Home Industry Strategy What's all the fuss about Wikipedia?
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A supposed tightening of editorial control at Wikipedia has the pundits all saying "I told you so" but in reality editing responsibility remains very much with the user community.
A story in the New York Times about new restrictions on Wikepedia's freewheeling content building and editing style has spawned dozens of spin-offs, all claiming that there has been a significant shift in Wikipedia's approach with the implementation of a decision from on high that certain pages should be locked to prevent them being edited by any Tom, Dick or Harry, but it's not quite that simple.

According to the New York Times, "[Wikipedia] is not the experiment in freewheeling collective creativity it might seem to be, because maintaining so much openness inevitably involves some tradeoffs...it's an online community that has built itself a bureaucracy of sorts — one that, in response to well-publicised problems with some entries, has recently grown more elaborate."

The NYT claims Wikipedia now has a clear power structure that gives volunteer administrators the authority to exercise editorial control, delete unsuitable articles and protect those that are vulnerable to vandalism.

True but it is still remarkably freewheeling. Outside these restrictions anyone can edit pages and any user who has been registered for four days can create or delete pages. And oversight is provided by an army of volunteer administrators but these are vetted by the Wikipedia community not by a central authority

According the official website "If you have been around for a while and you would like sysop access, add your name to 'Wikipedia:Requests for adminship' according to the guidelines mentioned there, and a discussion will take place by fellow editors in order to determine if there is consensus that you should become an administrator.

"It is recommended that you write for Wikipedia for a while before requesting administrator status, since other users will have to recognise you before they can agree on your promotion."

All the fuss is about the fact that there are certain topics on Wikipedia that are permanently blocked to all but administrators for a variety of reasons, and other that are blocked for a short time only, usually because of vandalism

Registered users can edit these semi-protected pages and blocking or unblocking can be initiated by an administrator. Any user can edit most pages whether they are registered or not.

The higher category of protection is used sparingly because "protected pages are considered harmful".  But still protection is in the hands of the administrator community.

Some in the current list of protected pages are clearly there with good reason, but with some you would have to wonder.

It's easy to see why some of these topics would be protected, and likely to stay that way for some time, such as · George W Bush · Human rights in the People's Republic of China, and · Islamophobia

But why 'elitism' and why '2004 United States voting controversies, Ohio'?

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