TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: After False Article, Wikipedia Tightens New Rules

After False Article, Wikipedia Tightens New Rules

BBC News Wire (
Tue, 6 Dec 2005 22:41:19 -0600

Wikipedia tightens online rules -- Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has
tightened its submission rules followinga complaint.

Prominent journalist John Seigenthaler described as "false and
malicious" an entry on Wikipedia implicating him in the Kennedy

When he phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, he was told there was
no way of finding out who wrote the entry.

Wikipedia has since removed the entry and now requires users to
register before they can create articles.

But visitors to the site will still be able to edit content already
posted without having to register.

The case has highlighted once again the problem of publishing
information online.

'Impulse vandalism'

Unlike content published in magazines, books or newspapers, online
information can be posted anonymously by anyone.

The marketplace of ideas ultimately will take care of the problem but
in the meantime, what happens to people like me? -John Seigenthaler

Wikipedia has thrived on offering people the chance to contribute to a
collective knowledge bank. Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has
gathered together some 850,000 articles in English as well as entries
in at least eight other languages on a wide range of topics.

Based on wikis, open-source software which lets anyone fiddle with a
webpage, anyone reading a subject entry can disagree, edit, add,
delete, or replace the entry.

It relies on volunteers, many of whom are experts in a particular
field, to edit previously submitted articles.

Mr. Wales acknowledged that the new procedures would not prevent people
from posting false information but said he hoped it would limit the
number of new articles being created.

This, in turn, should make it easier for the 600 volunteers to edit
content, he said.

"In many cases the types of things we see going on are impulse
vandalism," he said.

In an opinion piece for the USA Today, where Mr Seigenthaler was the
founding editorial director, the 78-year-old journalist claimed that
only one sentence in his Wikipedia biography was correct -- the fact
that he was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early

He went on to describe Wikipedia as a "flawed and irresponsible
research tool".

"The marketplace of ideas ultimately will take care of the problem but
in the meantime, what happens to people like me?" he asked.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Copyright 2005 BBC MMV

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