Wikipedia’s New Rules Don’t Go Far Enough

No changes are allowed to a life story without editorial approval.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Go Wikipedia, go! But go even farther than today's news suggests. Finally, the wild West-like, Web-based encyclopedia is reining in some Internet cowboys. I take it as a pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless. It means at the very least that I'm hardly alone in having dealt with Web-lurkers who take aspects of one's bio that are not major markers of one's accomplishments and turn them into signature events in that person's life.

From the New York Times:

Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.

The new feature, called "flagged revisions," will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia's servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

Having been through this with a Wikipedia editor, changes made by others are no joyride. The editor with whom I dealt, whose real name I do not know, was highly professional. But the rules that still govern Wiki biographical information make it difficult for anyone to control what the 10th most-popular Web site disseminates regarding one's bio.

Essentially, if there's a link to a Web post anywhere, even one you posted yourself, until these changes were put into effect, any "lurker" could link your bio page to that post, distort its meaning, and take control of your mini Web bio. Thank you, Wikipedia, for realizing the need to change the current set-up. Now, please consider changing the rules a bit further, so living persons have complete control over what is posted on their bio pages.