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Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wikipedia Considers Locking Out Anonymous Editors

In an effort to prevent posting of malicious information, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the implementation of stricter editorial practices in the English edition of the free online encyclopaedia.

Wales said in a statement that he has experimentally removed the ability of unregistered users to create new articles in Wikipedia.

Unregistered users will still be able to fix spelling mistakes and add to existing articles, but are required to register a user account before creating new pages.

The move would reduce the workload on the volunteer editors controlling contributions to the project.

Concern over editorial accuracy has become a key issue since the recent media coverage of a complaint in USA Today by retired journalist John Seigenthaler.

Seigenthaler discovered insinuations in his Wikipedia biography that he had been involved in the assassinations of both John and Robert Kennedy. After contacting Wikipedia this version of the article was immediately removed from the site and has since been rewritten.

Like many of the problematic contributions to Wikipedia, the offending version of the Seigenthaler article was written by an unregistered user. Wikipedia volunteers patrol a large volume of contributions in an effort to eliminate such problems.

In response to this incident, community members have debated a number of options to prevent such problems in the future. Possibilities under consideration include features to rate articles and identify stable versions that are suitable as finished work.

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