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The Longest Now

authority : an idea
Friday December 16th 2005, 2:35 pm
Filed under: metrics

Joho wrote a while ago about distributed authority, providing trusted
of Wikipedia content.  An excerpt from my reply follows; more relevant now that Wikipedia 0.5 takes form.

Distributed authority — in the ‘stamp and seal’
sense — is not my idea.  And what I would like to see happen with research groups has
been suggested by others before me; there is simply growing interest in
it now. I want to make it easy for people who already work on and
review content in a field to do so in a way that directly improves

At the moment, individual authors ‘adopt’ certain articles and try
to keep them fresh and free of errors. And various organizations
maintain their own internal knowledge-bases with content that overlaps
a good deal with relevant Wikipedia articles

Rather than trying to hack an authority system into MediaWiki, you
can do something simpler to encourage both of the above : have groups
that maintain their own small clusters of articles — 10 or 20 or 100
— on a local wiki, with its own portal page. Give them an easy way to
offer their work for merging with WP, without requiring them to all
join the site. The edits they make are implicitly ‘approved’ by them.

This is not a good verification method within WP, however
software changes are required for that (and Seth’s suggestion is one
specific path one might take). At the moment, Nature can link to
revisions of 100 articles that they approve. But once you follow a link
through to a Nature-edited revision of [[DNA]], and follow a link to
another WP article, you’ve already returned to the realm of public

The motivation for this is a few professors and talented writers who
began editing on WP, but commented that editing Wikipedia directly can
be offensive and off-putting (they are readily offended by trolling,
and have no patience for even trivial wiki-lawyering).

We’re making progress towards Wikipedia 1.0, slowly but surely; I
think along the way we will improve both the default view of content
and the selection of optional views suggested above.  Suggestions and improvements are welcome, as always.

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