Wikipedia operator Wikimedia has blasted press reports that suggest the arrival of Flagged Revisions in Wikipedia is in any way clamping down on the editing process of the site, confirming the new technology will be rolled out 'within two to three months.'
The official Wikimedia blog has a lengthy post from Erik Moeller, the Deputy Director of the organisation that runs online open encyclopaedia Wikipedia, discussing the controversial changes.
Although Flagged Revisions are being brought in to end high-profile 'inforgraffitti' such as declaring celebrities are dead when they are still alive, the move to a more rigid structure has angered many.
However, Wikimedia insists that the changes do not change the ethos of a site that has flourished under its current free-for-all editing system.
No official announcements
"Even though we've made no official announcements about this, you may have seen media reports that Flagged Revisions will soon be enabled in the English Wikipedia," said Moeller.
"The idea behind this proposal is to allow regular contributors to systematize a first, basic assessment of all edits by new contributors.
"However, this assessment will be purely for informational purposes to the reader: a reader will see whether or not the version of an article they look at has been patrolled, and if not, whether a prior patrolled version is available.
"Only in a small percentage of cases, we would require changes to be patrolled before becoming the default view for readers.
"The proposal is to do so initially in the case of biographies of living people, where false information can do the most serious harm to an individual. It is possible that other high-risk articles will also be treated in the same fashion."
Popular media narrative
Moeller is unhappy with what he describes as a 'popular media narrative' that Wikimedia is 'clamping down' on the open editing process, adding: "That is nonsense. It is presently the case that many high-risk articles are completely uneditable by new contributors, which is referred to as page protection."
So when will Flagged Revisions arrive? Moeller believes that the changes will be in place by mid November, stating: "It's important for us to get this right – we want to make sure that we don't make Wikipedia harder to use, for our readers or our editors, in the process of deploying this functionality.
"That said, we hope to be able to deploy Flagged Revisions in production use on the English Wikipedia within 2-3 months."