There has been a bunch of bad noise about Wikipedia on the tubes recently and it’s annoying me.
First, there was a study about Wikipedia growth slowing. Basically, the rate of new article creation has slowed and one-off editors are more likely to have their edits reverted.
Secondly, Wikipedia is adding a new level of editorial oversight for biographies of living people. This amounts to turning on flagged revisions for those articles: basically, non-logged-in users only see “flagged” edits that have been approved by “trusted editor” (i.e. not worth reverting).
Both of these caused a lot of consternation: Wikipedia is over the hill, Wikipedia is becoming elitist, etc. I made the mistake of reading slashdot comments on the second issue and regreted it.
Seriously? Can you look closely at the English Wikipedia and come to the conclusion that it’s dying?
Try clicking “random article” in Wikipedia a few times. Can you really say that the number of new articles shouldn’t be slowing down? Many of the articles are pretty dicey on the notability criteria. There is simply a finite number of “notable” topics that need to be written about: I’d say that English Wikipedia is closing in on that number. There will always be gaps, but they’re getting hard to find.
I have done a moderate amount of Wikipedia editing: about 200 edits across Wikimedia sites. In looking at the history of pages, I’ve never seen an edit that has been unjustly reverted. (Although I do tend to stay away from controversial pages.) Most of the reversions I have seen are of the quality “my high school principal is teh gay”. Again, I’m sure there are problems and edit wars, but they are definitely not the majority.
As for “flagged revisions”, I think it’s a great solution to the vandalism problem. Logged in users and editors will always see the most recent revisions, only anonymous viewers will see the “flagged” versions. The criteria for flagging seems to be “not worth reverting”, so that’s pretty minimal. I’d feel better if there was a better definition of “trusted editor” who can flag a revision, but assuming there is a sufficient set of people doing the flagging, it should work well.
So why the hate? My theory is that all of these people have written long articles about their totally awesome band, but had the page deleted for not being notable. Or maybe their high school principal really is teh gay, and they feel they are being censored.