On January 20th, like any other day, wikipedia was vandalized. False reports of the deaths Senators Kennedy and Byrd were only up for about five minutes, but this may turn out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Some news outlets picked up on it, a discussion started, and Jimbo Wales came out in favor of requiring anonymous edits to be approved.
He cites a poll of wikipedia users which went 60-40 in favor of this position, a margin he calls ‘very wide’. This would be very wide for an American election, but given the problems with internet polling (especially ease of manipulation), is this still a landslide?
The debate rages on about whether anonymous edits are wikipedia’s lifeblood or an unnecessary burden. Assuming wikipedia takes a decisive stand on this issue, could this open a niche for other competing services (knol, freebase) to take the opposite approach and get the 40% or 60% of wikipedia’s users who are dissatisfied?
- Matthew Webber