Sunday, December 11, 2005

Wikipedia, can it be trusted?

Last week Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit, got into a bit of trouble. They had two examples of abusing the system. If you’re not familiar with the system basically it’s an encyclopedia of pure user submitted content that anyone can add, change, or remove.

I have to say I am a big fan of Wikipedia and I rely on it a lot when I am doing research on almost everything. It is a huge database where nearly everything that could be covered is covered. But with what happened last week I am begging to doubt my trust in an open-source encyclopedia.

The founder of Wikipedia has announced that beginning tomorrow you will be required to log-in to the site before you can edit. All changes that are made will be tracked, so anonymous changes will no longer be allowed. But this only applies to creating new pages; existing pages can still be edited anonymously. So to me this does not fix the problem, it only puts a band-aid on a deadly wound that could kill the encyclopedia.

Wikipedia needs to make all changes (whether it be creating new pages or editing an existing one) require you to be registered with the site. They need an extensive system that will prevent users from abusing the open policy of the site. I’m not sure of what this system would entail but I’m thinking about it. I hope Wikipedia can fix the problems in its system before people begin to loose their trust in the idea and effectively kill the product.

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