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Wikipedia proposes moderator-approved editing
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has put forward proposals for the online encyclopedia’s content to be approved by a group of mediators
Juliet Grant
Wednesday, 11 February, 2009 | 12:00
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Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has put forward proposals for the online encyclopedia’s content to be approved by a group of mediators.

The move comes after Wikipedia falsely announced the deaths of two prominent politicians on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. The site reported the deaths of West Virginia’s Robert Byrd—the longest serving senator in American history—and Ted Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and collapsed at the inaugural lunch.

Changes to the website's 2.7 million pages can currently be made by anyone and only a handful of pages are protected.

The suggested new system would be called "flagged revisions" and would involve entries made by lesser-known users being "flagged".  The approval of a moderator would be necessary before any new information would appear on the site.

Trusted users would still be able to post changes that would appear on the page instantly. Mr Wales said: “We want people to be able to participate, but we have a tool available now that is consistent with higher quality.”

The majority of Wikipedia users seem to agree with this concept and a user poll on the website suggests that 60 per cent are in favour of trials which may be put into place within the next few weeks.

These modifications may also lead to a greater acceptance of the legitimacy of information found on the website in the academic world.

However, Jake Wartenberg, Wikipedia user and member of Radio Corporation patrol said: “The big issue is that while we have majority support, we don't have consensus, and that's the way we have always made our decisions.

“A lot of editors are becoming disenchanted with the project; we are losing them all the time.”

Wikipedia has previously faced similar problems: in 2005 prominent journalist and Democratic party aide John Siegenthaler discovered that an anonymous user had written a biography of him which claimed that he was involved with the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy in the 1960s.

Accordingly, Wikipedia said it would prevent anonymous users from creating entries as a way of stopping cyber bullying and vandalism.

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