244 words | ~1 min
Following up on the post about Wikipedia and Britannica, there's been a lot of talk about the proposal to introduce flagged revisions on Wikipedia. This would mean that edits, at least on some entries, would have to be checked and signed off by a reviewer.
This would reduce deliberate misinformation attacks on entries on current events, such as the recent attempt by someone to convince the world that Ted Kennedy died on Obama's inauguration day. But it would also destroy the quality that makes Wikipedia uniquely useful for following those events. Not that fact that it's written by members of the public, specifically, but the fact that it's fast.
Look, for example, at the edit history for the entry on Benazir Bhutto in late December 2007, when she was assassinated. That's fast work. Yes, quite a lot of the changes were inaccurate, deliberately or accidentally, but they got corrected with equal speed.
There's an old line that journalism is the first draft of history. When news breaks, Wikipedia is the first draft of an encyclopedia: not perfect, but there. Take that speed away, and Wikipedia will still read like the first draft of an encyclopedia, but not in a good way.
# Alex Steer (27/01/2009)