Growing Wikipedia Revises Its ‘Anyone Can Edit’ Policy, from the NY Times

Those measures can put some entries outside of the “anyone can edit” realm. The list changes rapidly… 82 that administrators had “protected” from all editing, mostly because of repeated vandalism or disputes over what should be said. Another 179 entries… were “semi-protected,” open to editing only by people who had been registered at the site for at least four days.

Once the assaults have died down, the semi-protected page is often reset to “anyone can edit” mode.

Jimmy Wales discussed this as a possibility when he spoke here on campus last October. I think it was inevitable, personally. As much as I believe in openness and collaboration and democracy and all of those good things, I also believe that, in some things, a benevolent dictatorship just works better. And apparently, in the Wikipedia realm, those things are the entries on controversial subjects.

“As Wikipedia has tried to improve its quality, it’s beginning to look more and more like an editorial structure,” said Nicholas Carr…

I think I just made the claim that editors are benevolent dictators. Well, at least I said “benevolent.”

Anyway, I’d argue that the fact that Wikipedia is relying on an editorial process, no matter how weak, is a vindication of the usefulness of the editorial process. I think the conclusion I’m coming to here is that, if you want quality control, you need a single idea of how to define quality. (And as we know, “quality” is one of those terms that is so nebulous that even attampting to define it will drive you mad.) And single idea means editorial process. The general public does not, and should not have a single idea of how to define quality. So again, I think the conclusion I’m coming to here is that, if you want satisfactory material, good enough material, collaboration will work for you. (Wikipedia is the ultimate in designing horses by committee?) If you want quality control, you need an editorial process. This is, I suppose, one reason why the right to fork exists: if an open project isn’t doing it for you, make an editorial decision & start a new project.