Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Wikipedia puts suspect changes on orange alert

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca. Online encyclopedia Wikipedia has long pushed for accuracy on par or better than regular encyclopedias. Now they are hoping a new tool will make it easier for users to spot potential mistakes or vandalism.

Wikipedia researchers have created a system called WikiTrust, which colour-codes the text of Wikipedia entries based on how reliable its source is.

Reliability of text in an entry is determined by a number of variables: the editing history of the person making the change, the editing history of the people who previously had edited the entry and how recent the change was. Older text that has survived multiple edits is more likely to be considered "trusted."

As Wikipedia software developer and neuroscientist Virgil Griffith of the California Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the project, told Wired: "They’ve hit on the fundamentally Darwinian nature of Wikipedia. Everyone’s injecting random crap into Wikipedia, and what people agree with more often sticks around. Crap that people don’t like goes away."

Suspect changes will appear with an orange background. As text within an entry becomes more accepted, its background will fade to a lighter colour, with the most reliable information having a regular white background.

WikiTrust is set to launch in the fall, one of a number of changes the online encyclopedia is expected to make to improve its reputation as a place for reliable information.

'Flagged' biographies another change

Last week the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit foundation that runs the online encyclopedia, said it was planning to add a feature that requires editors to sign off on some entries.

The Wikimedia Foundation is set to begin testing a feature called "flagged revisions," whereby entries on living people will need to be vetted by an experienced editor. The feature is already in use on the German version of Wikipedia, and some biographies of prominent or controversial figures have been "protected" to prevent vandalism of their entries.

Wikimedia spokesperson David Gerrard said the problem with "locking" biographies is that no one can edit them, a feature that isn't particularly useful for an encyclopedia that strives to be dynamic and react to the news.

Gerrard said about 1,500 administrators will be able to approve versions during the two-month trial, expected to begin in the next few weeks.

He said though the German website flags all entries but the English version is for now concerned with biographies, which he says are especially sensitive.

"Abusive or libelous information in a living bio can actually be damaging to the subject, and that's bad and wrong and not what we do this for," he said. "So anything in a living bio that's dubious needs a good source and evidence of relevance, or it can be summarily removed."

The planned changes come in response to criticism that has been levelled at the online encyclopedia since it first gained popularity: that allowing anyone to make changes invites errors and abuse of the system.

Earlier this year a false entry was posted claiming U.S. senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd had died after an inaugural luncheon in January. (Senator Kennedy passed away last week, while Senator Byrd is, last time we checked, still very much alive.)

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

R. W. Watkins

It will still constitute a bunkum-spewing oligarchy, operated and perpetuated by unqualified, self-appointed nobodies, craving power from behind bedroom doors, and with infantile axes to grind all over the place.

The best alternative to Wikipedia would have been Google's Knols project, launched a few months back. Sadly, like so many other Google ventures, they did not stand behind the project full-throttle, making it look like just another tax write-off.

Posted September 9, 2009 09:47 AM

true North

R. W. Watkins


It will still constitute a bunkum-spewing oligarchy, operated and perpetuated by unqualified, self-appointed nobodies, craving power from behind bedroom doors, and with infantile axes to grind all over the place.

---

It's always nice to see an objective approach taken to subjects like this. too bad R.W. Watkins doesn't agree.

Posted September 9, 2009 04:54 PM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Analysis Donald Trump gets a convention bump, but Hillary Clinton's could be next
The Republican National Convention delivered the bump Donald Trump needed in the polls. But it will only matter if it survives the convention bump Hillary Clinton is likely to get by her party's convention this week.
Live Freddie Gray trial prosecutors drop remaining charges against officers video
Prosecutors have dropped the remaining charges against Baltimore police officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing an end to the case without a conviction.
New Australia orders inquiry after teenage prisoners teargassed, stripped naked
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the treatment of children in detention after the airing of video showing prison guards teargassing teenage inmates and strapping a half-naked, hooded-boy to a chair.
more »

Canada »

Battling the Beast: The untold story of the fight to save Fort McMurray
The epic wildfire that threatened Fort McMurray in early May was beaten back by quick-thinking decision-makers. But that doesn't mean they don't have regrets.
Reality check: Can B.C.'s new foreign-buyer tax cool Vancouver's housing market?
The B.C. government broke new ground this week, announcing a hefty tax on foreign homebuyers in the Metro Vancouver area, with the stated aim of making housing more affordable. But will it work? And should other cities try it?
New 'We all make mistakes': Iqaluit residents welcome return of MP Hunter Tootoo
Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo is meeting with constituents this morning in Iqaluit after spending about two months in treatment for alcohol addiction. Many in Nunavut say they're proud of the former cabinet minister and happy he's getting back to work.
more »

Politics »

Analysis Donald Trump gets a convention bump, but Hillary Clinton's could be next
The Republican National Convention delivered the bump Donald Trump needed in the polls. But it will only matter if it survives the convention bump Hillary Clinton is likely to get by her party's convention this week.
Updated William and Kate's 2nd royal visit to Canada will be this fall
Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton will visit British Columbia and Yukon this fall during their second royal visit to Canada.
Leasing ships for coast guard an option, internal analysis suggests
Federal officials say there's nothing preventing Ottawa from leasing vessels from companies outside of the much-delayed national shipbuilding strategy. An internal analysis conducted last winter suggests the Liberal government could be open to the idea pending a review of the coast guard's many needs.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Will Smith and Margot Robbie thank Toronto with Suicide Squad fan experience video
After taking over downtown Toronto to film Suicide Squad last year, two of the movie's supervillains returned Tuesday to thank us with a fan experience.
Youree Harris, actress who portrayed TV psychic Miss Cleo, dead at 53
Youree Dell Harris, the actress who became famous playing the Jamaican psychic Miss Cleo, claiming to know callers' futures in ubiquitous TV infomercials and commercials 15 years ago, has died of cancer.
How Pokemon Go found success — despite not being a very good game
Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, with millions setting out this month to become Pokemon trainers — even though by most traditional metrics it isn't a very good video game.
more »

Technology & Science »

European Space Agency says final farewell to Philae comet lander
The European Space Agency says it is switching off its radio link to the probe that landed on a comet, after receiving no signal from the lander for a year.
Net-zero egg barn with solar energy opens in Alberta video
The Brant Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta aims to produce roughly 13,000 eggs a day while creating no net greenhouse gas emissions.
How Pokemon Go found success — despite not being a very good game
Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, with millions setting out this month to become Pokemon trainers — even though by most traditional metrics it isn't a very good video game.
more »

Money »

Alberta carbon tax regime to be most stringent in Canada, Ecofiscal Commission report says
Move over, British Columbia: Canada's oilpatch next door in Alberta is on track to have Canada's most aggressive carbon pricing system by 2020.
Reality check: Can B.C.'s new foreign-buyer tax cool Vancouver's housing market?
The B.C. government broke new ground this week, announcing a hefty tax on foreign homebuyers in the Metro Vancouver area, with the stated aim of making housing more affordable. But will it work? And should other cities try it?
Net-zero egg barn with solar energy opens in Alberta video
The Brant Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta aims to produce roughly 13,000 eggs a day while creating no net greenhouse gas emissions.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Recap Devon Travis sparks Jays' wild 12th-inning win video
Devon Travis reached base on a marathon plate appearance, then scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Toronto Blue Jays came from behind to beat the San Diego Padres 7-6 on Monday night.
Analysis CFL Power Rankings: Week 5 video
Despite a loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Ottawa Redblacks stay atop Malcolm Kelly's CFL power rankings.
Rio 2016: Team Canada by the numbers
The Canadian Olympic Committee announced the 313 athletes that will represent Canada at Rio 2016. CBC Sports breaks down some of the numbers.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »