User:Fred Bauder/Error management
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Errors occur on Wikipedia.
- 1 Harmful editing
- 2 Preventing harmful editing
- 3 Detecting and correcting harmful editing
- 4 Harmful edits which are not noticed
- 5 Dissatisfaction with biographies
- 6 User performance problems
- 7 See also
- 8 References and external links
The initial consideration for errors is harmful editing - vandalism. Given the Wikipedia policy that anyone may edit almost all articles, there are a certain number of malicious edits as well as common vandalism. Motivation varies.
The extent of vandalism depends to some degree on how vandals are handled, as well as how promptly vandalism is reverted (the quicker, the less the physic reward from vandalism). On the first matter, the following essays exist:
Preventing harmful editing
Although Wikipedia is based on the general concept that "anyone can edit", the community has established some limitations where it has judged that the benefit of restrictions (less vandalism, for example) exceeds the cost (fewer constructive edits). Those restrictions are:
- Anonymous users may not create articles (they must go through Wikipedia:Articles for creation).
- Anonymous users may not edit semi-protected pages; pages are normally semi-protected because of excess vandalism (as, for example, George W. Bush)
- Newly registered editors may not move pages until five days after registering
Blocking anonymous IP editors from doing any edits at all is a perennial proposal that has not gained consensus.
The German version of Wikipedia is working on implementing the concept of multiple versions, including one where a "trusted editor" would have to have reviewed an edit and flagged it as non-vandalizing before it would go into that version.. While that would not technically prevent vandalism, it could significantly reduce its impact.
Detecting and correcting harmful editing
Due to wiki software, prompt correction of such harmful editing errors is usually possible if errors are noticed.
There are at least four mechanisms for noticing errors caused by vandals:
- recent changes patrol of Recent changes
- User watchlists.
- Readers of an article noticing the vandalism, or editors going to the article for other purposes (e.g., minor maintenance) and noticing the vandalism
- Automated reviews of edits (VandalBot, for example) detecting and reverting vandalizing edits.
Monitoring of edits, and editors, may itself involve error, false positives and false negatives, Type I and type II errors.
Recent changes patrol is said to be, "... a way to see that every edit gets checked in a timely manner." Edits which need attention are both "bad edits", which need to be removed, and "needy edits" which need attention. A number of ongoing processes and suggestions for correction and improvement are set forth at Wikipedia:Maintenance. Tools have been developed which somewhat automate monitoring recent changes.
Harmful edits which are not noticed
Occasionally, harmful edits, even libelous edits, such as the vandalism to John Seigenthaler, Sr., are not noticed. That vandalism is termed a critical false positive; it mattered.
Dissatisfaction with biographies
Problems with autobiographies aside, people, or organizations, who are the subject of an article on Wikipedia are often dissatisfied with some aspect of it, sometime demanding its entire removal. Current policy is to suggest they make suggestions on the talk page of the article. Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons addresses some of the problems involved as does Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. A noticeboard exists to post cases for review by others: Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard.
User performance problems
Failure to take prompt effective action
This essay may be incomplete for several days, please be patient while I work on it. Fred Bauder
A list of resources which may be useful:
- The University of Texas Threat and Error Mode
- "A false Wikipedia 'biography', opinion by John Seigenthaler, Sr., USA Today, November 29, 2005.
- "Is Wikipedia error prone?" NYT News service, Deccan Herald, March 1, 2006
- Interview, Jimmy Wales GoodExperience.com March 10, 2005
- "Topic Informants: how the Citizendium would handle Seigenthaler and Microsoft" Larry Sanger, Citizendium Blog, January 26, 2007.
- "Error Management Theory: A New Perspective on Biases in Cross-Sex Mind Reading" (PDF) file Martie G. Haselton and David M. Buss, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000, Vol. 78, No. 1, 81-91