Counteracting Wikipedia vandalism

In Hot off the Press by Marius Badenhorst

Wikipedia has become one of the largest and most frequently used information sources on the Internet. More often than not, when typing in keywords for your search, Google comes up with a Wikipedia option near the top of the list. One of the features that makes Wikipedia unique in the world of search, and one of the reasons that it`s so popular, is the fact that articles can be edited and have information added by anyone interested in doing so.

The downside to this (as there is always a downside) is that the articles are open to vandalism. In the past, Wikipedia has had severe problems with anonymous obscene contributions and pornographic pictures. This resulted in Wikipedia introducing stricter control measures regarding their editing procedures. They also implemented several options to those adversely affected by vandalism to correct the articles, and affect a degree of damage control.

Problem solving measures include:

1)       Emailing the Wikipedia Foundation, which can be done directly or through the Open Ticket Request System, to obtain a tracking number for your query.
2)       Wikipedia has a Watchlist that alerts active editors to changes made to pages. This is especially effective in counteracting vandalism.
3)       Many article pages have a link to at least one Wikiproject, such as the Counter-Vandalism Unit. They ensure that inappropriate or malicious edits are deleted within minutes. They then monitor the site for any future problems and take care of them as and when they occur.
4)       There are notice boards available that address specific issues. Some of the references that search marketers and PR professionals should be aware of include:
·       Requests for page protection: a period of edit protection is provided to articles that are plagued by a series of acts of vandalism within a short space of time.
·       Administrator Intervention Against Vandalism: the site administrators block persistent vandals.
·       Biographies of Living Persons Notice Board: addresses problems that arise regarding biography articles.
·       Administrators` Notice Board/Incidents: for urgent problems that aren`t covered by any of the other notice boards.

The German Wikipedia community, has come up with a new feature for protecting articles against vandalism. The general public will still be able to make edits to articles, but they would only be made live by a trusted, long-term Wikipedia user. In this way vandalism can be detected and the problem edits withheld from the public site. The benefits in terms of the vast reduction of defamation could be enormous.

A potential downside to the new feature would be increased restrictions on the site`s contributors. Ultimately, however, it would encourage ownership and accountability for work published. Anonymous editing would become a thing of the past. Articles could then be submitted with the confidence that they`d be safe from wilful defamation and obscenity.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst