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Wikipedia Makes It Easier To Edit Articles

June 15, 2010

Wikipedia has taken an “important step” towards making it easier to edit some of its most controversial articles.

Up to 2,000 articles will have their strict editing restrictions relaxed, including that of former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Users will be able to submit changes to the selected pages for review by senior editors.

This is part of the site’s ongoing efforts to curb vandalism of the site.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, told BBC News that the new system will allow the site “to open up articles for general editing that have been protected or semi-protected for years.”

“That’s what is exciting about this,” he said.

Wikipedia encourages editorial changes from everybody that visits the site.

However, the site was plagued by persistent problems like malicious editing of entries, and repeated editing of controversial topics. 

The site has introduced several levels of protection that can be applied to articles as a result. 

New or anonymous users could previously be prevented from editing “semi-protected” articles, and were forced to suggest changes on a discussion board attached to each article before they could be incorporated.

The site says that the new changes should make it easier for users to contribute to these pages.

Wales said that he was happy that the pages are opening up again.

“These have had to be semi-protected for years just because they are too tempting for naughty people to try something funny,” he told BBC.

“But semi-protection has prevented thoughtful and sincere newcomers from making good changes.”

Any edits to articles in the semi-protected category are subject to review from an established Wikipedia editor before publication, although anyone can still view changes that have been proposed.

Wikipedia users will notice a small magnifying glass on included article for the duration of the two-month trial, which is replacing a padlock.

Wikipedia said in a blog post “The icon, on the upper right corner of the article, represents an important step that Wikipedia volunteers have taken to open up articles that were previously protected from editing.”

“At present, only about 0.1% of the 3.3 million articles on the English Wikipedia are under edit protection.”

“This tool should help reduce disruptive edits or errors to these pages while maintaining open, collaborative editing from anyone who wants to contribute.”

Anyone is able to view proposed edits by clicking on the “pending changes” tab, along with an “edit” and “history” tab on the entry.

Wikipedia said the decision about which articles to include in the new trial, up to an initial limit of 2,000, will be taken by the Wikipedia community.

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