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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wikipedia to amend editing rules

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that has increasingly drawn some juvenile pranks, is looking to impose more discipline with new restrictions on the editing of articles.

The latest changes come as Wikipedia continues to try to balance credibility and a desire for openness.

While anyone can still edit entries, the site is testing pages that require changes to be approved by an experienced Wikipedia editor before they show up.

The idea is to block the kind of high-profile vandalism that has marred some pages. In one of the most recent embarrassments, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd was declared dead by rogue editors.

Still, Wikipedia risks discouraging legitimate editing if restrictions on changes or additions become too burdensome. That may be especially true on more obscure pages with fewer active volunteers to approve edits in a timely way.

Aware of the risks, Wikipedia has set the criteria for "experienced editor" status relatively low. Users who are registered for a few days can give changes the OK, said Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the site.

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