UK Guardian – Wikipedia fights off cyber vandals

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2006-06-18 12:32:21

Problem/Reaction/Solution – Again!…,,1800273,00.html?gusrc=rss   Wikipedia fights off cyber vandals Lorna Martin
Sunday June 18, 2006
The Observer
What links George W Bush, Christina Aguilera, Adolf Hitler, sex – and, from last Friday, Tony Blair? The answer is that the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has deemed that they are part of a growing number of subjects in need of protection from cyber vandals. The giant internet database, which boasts an ‘anyone can edit’ policy, decided that the 11-page entry on the Prime Minister needed to be shielded after a wave of online assaults from contributors wishing to embellish his biography – many in highly imaginary, not to mention damaging, ways. Wikipedia aims to offer free knowledge to everybody on the planet. But its strength – that anyone, anywhere, can fiddle with the prose – is, according to some sceptics, becoming a weakness. Along with massive expansion – it is now the web’s third most popular news and information source and contains almost 4 million entries – there have been increased opportunities for vandalism and growing disputes over what should be said, forcing those behind the project to protect more and more subjects. Alison Wheeler, an editor and chief executive of Wikimedia UK, a division of the Wikipedia holding company, said the restriction was a necessary tool for quality control. ‘We’ve had an increase in the level of vandalism on [Blair’s] entry. It’s mostly quite offensive stuff, such as someone adding in as fact that Tony Blair is a liar. Others are simply stupid – mildly amusing, perhaps – such as that Tony Blair spilt popcorn down his pyjamas last night.’ Wheeler said more people seemed to be vandalising Blair’s entry since a restriction was recently placed on George Bush’s site. Earlier this year Wikipedia was the subject of media interest after a retired US journalist discovered insinuations in his Wikipedia biography that he had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, dismissed the suggestion that the tighter controls undermined its democratic principles. ‘Protection as a policy has existed for years,’ he said yesterday. ‘Semi-protection was devised as a softer, more open approach. Rather than full protection, which means no one can edit, we now increasingly use semi-protection.’ To add to or edit information on semi-protected sites, users must be registered for at least four days. The ‘cooling-off’ period, explains Alison Wheeler, would make all but the most determined vandals retreat. Once the assaults have died down, she said the semi-protected page would be reset to ‘anyone can edit’. Topics in need of care and protection Selected Wikipedia articles have been placed by site administrators under restrictions to protect them from vandalism or editing wars. Most articles are only temporarily protected. Protected articles Cannot be edited: · 2004 United States voting controversies, Ohio · Cuba · Islamophobia · Elitism · Kosovo · George W Bush · Christina Aguilera · Human rights in the People’s Republic of China · Military budget of the People’s Republic of China · Messianic Judaism · Islam and anti-Semitism Semi-protected articles Users can edit only if they have been registered with the site for at least four days: · Tony Blair · Michael Jackson · God · Emo · Shakespeare · John Wayne · Ku Klux Klan · Christianity · 11 September, 2001 · Anarchism · Sex · Food · Comfort women · Mahatma Gandhi · PlayStation 3 · Boston, Massachusetts

Related articles...

Comments are closed.