Good To See: Wikipedia Moves Forward With Color Coding Less Trustworthy Text

from the teaching-people-to-be-skeptical dept

More than two years ago, we talked about a great idea to deal with the (somewhat misleading) question of the trustworthiness of Wikipedia: color code new edits from untrustworthy editors. Not only would this alert people to at least double-check that particular info, it would remind people that Wikipedia is a constantly changing site. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that I hadn't heard much about this idea since that summer of 2007. However, apparently, it's been gaining in popularity, and now Wikipedia is set to start using it across the site. Here's how it works:
Based on an person's past contributions, WikiTrust computes a reputation score between zero and nine. When someone makes an edit, the background behind the new text gets shaded orange depending on their reputation: the brighter the orange, the less "trust" the text has. Then when another author edits the page, they essentially vote on the new text. If they like the edit, they'll keep it, and if not, they'll revert it. Text that persists will become less orange over time, as more editors give their votes of approval.
While there are some concerns about how well this will work (and how much processing power it will take), it seems like a worthwhile experiment.
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Filed Under: color-coded, trust, wikipedia


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  1. identicon
    Nick Coghlan, 31 Aug 2009 @ 6:53am

    Still a restricted experiment at this stage

    Reading the Wired article, it looks they're just implementing it for logged in users initially, and even for them it will only be displayed if they click on a specific "Trust info" tab at the top of the screen.

    Still, at least it gives them a chance to see how it goes with the full data set and real time updates as entries change.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this then became a new editorial option in the future - instead of locking a page, editors may be given the ability to flag a page as one which should display trust info to all users, which would also enable an info box at the top of the page explaining what all the orange colouring was about.

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