Wikipedia co-founder to test quality control idea

Jimmy Wales said a new quality control program for Wikipedia will undergo testing.

A way to ensure better quality control on Wikipedia entries by color coding edits to red flag potentially dubious content will be tested on some smaller sites in the Wikia community to determine its effectiveness, the co-founder of Wikipedia said Sunday.

The color coding idea comes from Luca de Alfaro, an associate professor at University of California, Santa Cruz and is aimed at erasing doubts about the reliability of entries on Wikipedia by its all-volunteer team. It's a huge task. The program will analyze Wikipedia's entire editing history, 2 million pages and over 40 million edits on the English language site alone, and each contributor will be ranked for reliability. Wikipedia entries that stand the test of time, without revision, will improve the reputation of a contributor. Contributors with a history of postings that require corrections are flagged as untrustworthy. The program calculates the reputation by working from a contributor's history of edits.

The co-founder of Wikipedia said it was one of the most exciting ideas he'd heard at Wikimania 2007 in Taipei.

"I thought that was really cool, and we're going to do a test," said Jimmy Wales, adding that he'll have to see how the program works under testing before deciding whether to use it on Wikipedia.

"You roll out a new quality control feature, especially on English-language Wikipedia, that's a huge thing to do. The whole world's watching. It's a massive community. If it leads to problems, it's a fiasco, so it's nice that we have a small community [Wikia] where we can test it," he added.

Florence Nibart-Devouard, chair of the board of trustees at the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, said the color-coding idea won widespread support from community members attending Wikimania 2007. "We're definitely going to support further research and development of this idea," she said.

The color-coding program could boost quality control on one of the most widely used Internet encyclopedias, and one of the most popular Web sites. The English language Wikipedia site accounts for nearly a third of all visits to U.S. educational sites, according to tracker Hitwise Pty. Ltd. It's also the second most visited site from Google searches, just after MySpace.com, due to sheer volume and the fact Wikipedia listings tend to rank high on Google search results.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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