User:Jyril/Ideas for better Wikipedia

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Help removing the “mis” from information in Wikipedia!


Here's a few proto-ideas recently popped into my mind. If you want for some reason to comment them, please let me know.

Obviously these modifications would need more or less major changes in the MediaWiki source code.

New articles[edit]

  • NEW ARTICLES SHOULD NEVER BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT PROPER REFERENCES.
  • The creator of a new article should state the reasons why Wikipedia should include the article. If the topic is not encyclopedic and the reasons given are inadequate, an administrator can remove the article at will. Alternatively, AfD process should lead to deletion if no good reasons are given to keep it.
Possible problems
  • How to prohibit unreferenced articles? One possible solution: Users review new articles and tag them unreferenced if nedeed. If the article is not corrected quickly, it is removed soon. This makes AfD process much easier since very poor articles can be quickly removed.

Referencing system[edit]

  • Although general references are generally fine, checking references may be difficult if they are not marked as inline references. Rigorous reference marking should therefore be required (i.e. at minimum, every paragraph should have references marked)[1].
  • Creating reference using templates may be tedious job and may lead to errors. A common database could be created for references; as every reference includes backlinks to article where it is used, updating information and chasing errors from sources would be much easier. See for example CiteSeer database. Automatically created cites would make articles more standardized. Now there are countless ways to mark them.
Possible problems
  • Possible duplicates in the database, database management, additional strain to servers

Karma points[edit]

  • Every user should have good and bad karma points, based on his or her edits in main article space. That needs an edit review system; every user can review an edit once. No reviews should be accepted without giving reasons for voting (in the case of obvious vandalism the reason could be selected from a drop-down list).
– simple reviewing system[2]:
  • Vandalism[3]/Disruptive edit flag. The edit reviewed is clear vandalism, gross POV pushing, spamming, obvious copyright violations etc. If several users tag a recent edit as vandalism, the user is blocked automatically for a short time. Enough Vandalism flags change the user status to Possible vandal and start the sanctioning process automatically. Groundless accusations of vandalism should give a lot of bad karma to the reviewer.
  • Good edit flag. The user has added more content to the article and has provided the required sources. Also, adding missing references can be counted as good edit.
– No good edit flag should be triggered for grammatical fixes, page reformatting, etc. and especially not for additions that don't include verifiable sources.
– Minor edits = edits that don't change information content of the article; minor edits cannot be reviewed.
– Voting is open and documented; possible wrongdoings could be investigated later. Certainly not open except for Administrators--otherwise Good/Vandal edit tags cumulate easily. However, the editor and reviewer should see voting results.
– Decrease good Karma if the user doesn't contribute in voting?
– Decrease bad Karma if he user hasn't made disruptive edits for a while?
– No "poor edits" in order to prevent people with personal hostilities from changing Karma.
– Karma should be calculated based on the number of edits by the user. If (s)he creates a lot of edits, but don't provide required references, his/her good Karma decreases.
– Voting can be reverted within a certain period of time to eliminate possible accidental votings; administrators can revert older votes.
– A system similar to Request for investigation may have to be established to demote distruptive Expert users. If the system is adopted, in the beginning there will be a lack of Experts. This could be fixed with a voting system. Generally, Expert status should be automatic.
– New users should be denied from reviewing edits for a short time in order to prevent sock puppetry. In general, voting should be restricted from anonymous users.
– If this system becomes adopted, earlier edits should not have any effect on the user's Karma. At the beginning, the lack of Expert users may create a problem when no one has collected enough good Karma. Some obviously good editors could be promoted to Experts via voting.
Why?
  • Makes combating vandalism considerably easier. Hard sanctions against those who misuse the vandalism edit tag to ensure that it is not used without good reasons.
Possible problems
  • Karma collecting: Making many smaller edits versus one large leads to more Karma. Can be fixed by limiting to only one vote per user/article. The point is that this system helps finding reliable contributors, so large scale voting is not needed.
  • "Good" is a very subjective term; one possibility is to give a Karma point not from one vote, but if an edit has earned enough points. Problems may arise from the popularity of an article: more people vote on popular articles. On the other hand, those edits are therefore more important, and giving more Karma for those can be justified.
  • Friends vote each other, sock puppetry.
  • Edit voting system requires an additional huge database, much work from contributors.
  • Makes contributing much more tedious if you have always provide references. Poor argument, if the main point is to make Wikipedia more reliable.

User classes[edit]

Users should be classed into different groups according to their reliability:

Blocked/banned user The user is currently prohibited from editing.
Possible vandal/
Disruptive user
The user has collected enough bad karma, an administrator has been notified, but no decision has been yet made on his or her status. Any user can become a Possible vandal if (s)he has collected enough bad Karma.
Normal user The user has not collected much either good or bad karma.
Expert user The user has created a lot of good karma and is proved to be a reputable contributor. Only experienced contributors can become Expert users.
Professional user An Expert user who has provided evidence that he or she is a professional on the area he is contributing.
Why?
  • Helps finding reliable users who apparently know how to create verifiable text.
Possible problems
  • Expert users may relate poorly with other users; since Expert user != Administrator, this should not be a major problem.
  • What contributes as evidence for professionalism? Is that level really useful? How about areas where (s)he is not professional?
Another way to do this
  • Experts could be selected using a voting system similar to how administrators are selected. However, I would keep the automatic vandal reporting system in order to make disruptive editing more difficult.

Article classes[edit]

This is actually my main point: article classification based on their reliability; however, to achieve that, we need reliable contributors and sources.

Fallacious article The article provably includes false information, is self-contradictory, or contradicts another article. If not corrected, it will become unavailable from non-registered users[4] after a certain period of time. This status if triggered immediately if any reputable[5] user reports it. A reputable user can promote the article into a Suspicious/Unverified status after it has been corrected.
Suspicious article The article does not have sources, the sources are mostly questionable, or the article includes original study. Can be triggered by any reputable user who provides evidence for missing references or questionable content. Can be promoted by a reputable into an Unverified status after the problems have been corrected.
Unverified article The article seems to be in order (i.e. sources are properly marked) but has not been verified. Triggered automatically to new articles that have the references section.
Trusted article The article has been verified carefully by an Expert user. Subsequent edits automatically demote the article into Unverified status. When that happens, a direct link to the latest Verified status version must be included [automatically] in an easily visible position in the article. Trusted article does not have to be Good article, Featured article (or vice versa)[6], or even well-written. It only has to be based on reliable sources and must not include unverified claims whatsoever.
Not applicable Disambiguation pages and other similar pages.
Why?
  • Wikipedia becomes considerably more reliable when poor and good articles are marked as such.
  • Direct link to trusted article makes it possible for Wikipedia users to find reliable versions of articles. Now anyone can mess up articles that have been peer reviewed.
  • One solution is to make all articles without sources unavailable to non-registered users until they are properly referenced.
Possible problems
  • On controversial issues, one user can view other user's edit as POV and tag the article as suspicous or fallacious.
  • Sloppy Expert can promote bad articles into the Trusted status.

Source quality[edit]

This is to ensure that we don't use any "hearsay" sources, but only relatively reliable ones.

Dubious source Personal webpages (depends on the context), misinformation, etc. Use only in the case of controversy; clear linkspam etc. should be removed without further notice.
Secondary source Press releases, news articles, etc.
Primary source Academic papers, official records, etc.
Note
  • Can be easily implemented using templates.
Possible problems
  • Subjectiveness, controversial issues.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Obvious exception is the information mentioned elsewhere in the article. If the article uses infoboxes, reference marking could be made there instead of the text.
  2. ^ This should be as simple as possible to make reviewing encouraging and to prevent unnecessary work.
  3. ^ "Vandalism" is a poor term here, as it usually refers only to childish mischief.
  4. ^ In a similar way deleted pages are visible to Administrators only.
  5. ^ Any user who is shown not to be disruptive.
  6. ^ Obviously, an article must be Trusted at the moment when it is accepted as Good article or Featured article.