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Are “Trusted Editors” Good for Wikipedia?

Posted By Robert Gorell On September 25, 2007 @ 2:41 pm In Blog Buzz,New Media | 1 Comment

Information World Review reports that the German Wikipedia [1] will have “trusted editors” by year’s end [2]. The move from community editing and after-the-fact fact-checking “…could be applied to the English language version of Wikipedia if feedback from users is positive.”

Resource Shelf‘s Gary Price reminds us [3] that this move has been in the works for some time:

Three years ago next month, Jimmy Wales was quoted in Red Herring [4] saying that editors to review content were coming.

Wikipedia’s [Founder] Mr. [Jimmy] Wales has said that next year he will begin using editors to review the web site’s content for accuracy and allow users to rate contributions to the encyclopedia for their quality. ‘It’s complex because it’s a social community, and feelings can be hurt,’ said Mr. Wales, but he added that the change will be critical when Wikipedia content is put on more permanent media, such as CD-ROM disks.”

As those who follow this blog may know, we have mixed feelings about Wikipedia, especially after all of the dirty edits uncovered by Wikiscanner [5], the edit-tracking software developed by Cal Tech grad student Virgil Griffith. Maybe they’re an easy target, but Wikipedia’s hugely important. History, as well as obscure definitions, can now be written by winners and losers alike — for better and for worse.

But the transition to “trusted editors” dredges up a new batch of questions: Who will these editors be? Where will they come from? Why should we trust them? Who edits the editors?

Perhaps a more interesting question is why Wikipedia has captured so much global mindshare in the first place. For one thing, they do a lot of simple things right. While linking to Wikipedia helps to assure they consistently rank well in search results, Search Engine Journal‘s Jon Kelly argues that liking to Wikipedia can be good for you [6], too:

Short URLs. Yes, it’s as simple as that. The shorter the link, the easier it is to deal with when referencing. I know others have some fancy way of getting links into their posts, but I still do a lot of copy and paste and it’s easier with a shorter URL.

No Parameters / No Numbers. In a recent post [7], I wanted to link to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, mostly to help make it clear that my story was a shaggy dog [8] (ah, that was an easy link!)

He then shows the URL’s for Amazon and Google Books, both of which are hilariously long. Some other reasons [6]

Momentum. I need a link to make a point. I Google. I check the top 3-4 listings. Guess who’s always one of the choices? Thus the additional links build on the present ranking.

Laziness. Honestly, I think most bloggers just can’t be bothered to find the perfect reference on a subject. Good enough really is good enough if the link is just serving as a bit of background on something you think might be too esoteric [9] to be familiar to all readers.

How do you feel about linking to Wikipedia [10]? Does the idea of having “trusted editors” turn you off, or is it a good thing?

[Hat tip to Search Engine Land [11] for linking us to the Resource Shelf post, which linked us to Information World Review.]


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URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/09/25/wikipedia-trusted-editors/

URLs in this post:

[1] German Wikipedia: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauptseite

[2] “trusted editors” by year’s end: http://www.iwr.co.uk/information-world-review/news/2199277/germany-tightens-control

[3] Gary Price reminds us: http://www.resourceshelf.com/2007/09/24/german-wikipedia-trusted-editors-and-past-comments/

[4] Jimmy Wales was quoted in Red Herring: http://www.redherring.com/Home/10909

[5] dirty edits uncovered by Wikiscanner: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/20/wikipedia-and-the-wisdumb-of-crowds/

[6] liking to Wikipedia can be good for you: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/wikipedia-is-1-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it/5706/

[7] recent post: http://blog.surehits.com/2007/09/21/google-yahoo-msn-digg-on-tv/

[8] shaggy dog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaggy_dog_story

[9] too esoteric: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_volatility

[10] Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grok

[11] Search Engine Land: http://searchengineland.com/070925-090959.php

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