19.521 Wikipedia

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 11:03:18 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 521.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 10:49:47 +0000
         From: "Donald Weinshank" <weinshan_at_cse.msu.edu>
         Subject: Wikipedia moving toward self-monitoring

Although there are many current stories on this thorny issue, I found this
one from Ziff-Davis E-week to be balanced and useful.



Wikipedia Erects Accuracy Firewall
By Lisa Vaas
December 19, 2005

Wikipedia has implemented a new policy of using "semi-protection" on targets
of frequent vandalism, such as its entries on love, beauty or George W.

Semi-protection of a page prevents new registered users and all unregistered
users from editing that page and is only applied if the page in question is
facing a serious vandalism problem.

Although news reports are calling the new policy a major revision, it is
actually only a slight spin on Wikipedia's existing policy of protection.

Protection gives Wikipedia administrators the ability to protect pages from
being edited or images from being overwritten, except by other

The move comes after complaints from John Seigenthaler Sr. regarding errors
in an entry that falsely implicated the U.S. journalist and former aide to
Robert Kennedy in his assassination and that of his brother, U.S. President
John F. Kennedy.

In an editorial published in USA Today, Seigenthaler wrote that the error
had remained on Wikipedia for several months and that the anonymity of
Wikipedia posters made it virtually impossible to track down its source. In
the article, he described Wikipedia as a "flawed and irresponsible research

Even though the perpetrator of the inaccurate entry, Brian Chase, confessed
and resigned from his job, the incident set off a torrent of criticism about
Wikipedia's accuracy and credibility.

Still, according to a recent study by the journal Nature, Wikipedia isn't
particularly prone to inaccuracies.

PointerClick here to read more from columnist Sean Carton about Wikipedia's

Nature's peer review of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica found that
among 42 entries tested, Wikipedia contained about four inaccuracies,
compared with Britannica's three.

Although 42 entries is a drop in the bucket when compared with the 873,231
articles on Wikipedia as of Monday, Nature concluded that inaccuracies on
Wikipedia are the exception, not the rule.

"The difference in accuracy was not particularly great," the journal

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to indicate that Brian Chase
resigned from his job.

Dr. Don Weinshank Professor Emeritus Comp. Sci. & Eng.
1520 Sherwood Ave., East Lansing MI 48823-1885
Ph. 517.337.1545 FAX 517.337.1665
Received on Wed Dec 21 2005 - 06:23:55 EST

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