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New plan to tackle dubious Wikipedia entries

Wikipedia co-founder to test quality control idea

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

The colour 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 analyse 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 colour-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.


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