Tuesday, December 06, 2005
AP: WikiPedia tightens submission rules after Seigenthaler incident
[December 05, 2005]
Online Encyclopedia Tightens Rules
(AP) Online Encyclopedia Tightens Rules
By DAN GOODIN
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO -- Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute
articles, is tightening its rules for submitting entries following the
disclosure that it ran a piece falsely implicating a man in the Kennedy
Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create
articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site,
The change comes less than a week after John Seigenthaler Sr., who was
Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s, wrote an op-ed
article revealing that Wikipedia had run a biography claiming Seigenthaler
had been suspected in the assassinations of the former Attorney General and
his brother, President John F. Kennedy.
Wikipedia, which on Monday offered more than 850,000 articles in English,
has grown into a storehouse of pieces on topics ranging from medieval art to
nano technology. The volume of content is possible because the site relies
on volunteers, including many experts in their fields, to submit entries and
edit previously submitted articles.
The Web site hopes that the registration requirement will limit the number
of stories being created, Wales said.
"What we're hopeful to see is that by slowing that down to 1,500 a day from
several thousand, the people who are monitoring this will have more ability
to improve the quality," Wales said Monday. "In many cases the types of
things we see going on are impulse vandalism."
Wikipedia visitors will still be able to edit content already posted without
registering. It takes 15 to 20 seconds to create an account on the Web site,
and an e-mail address is not required.
Seigenthaler, a former newspaper editor at the Tennessean in Nashville,
Tenn., and founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt
University, said that following his op-ed piece in USA Today the biography
of him was changed to remove the false accusations.
But Seigenthaler said the current entry on Monday still got some facts
wrong, apparently because volunteers are confusing him with his son, John
Seigenthaler Jr., a journalist with NBC News.
Also disturbing is a section of his biography that tracks changes made to
the article, Seigenthaler, Sr. said. Entries in that history section label
him a "Nazi" and say other "really vicious, venomous, salacious homophobic
things about me," he said.
Wales said those comments would be removed.
For 132 days, Seigenthaler said the biography of him falsely claimed that
"for a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the
Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby."
The biography also falsely stated that he had lived in the Soviet Union from
1971 to 1984.
Seigenthaler said he wasn't convinced the new registration requirement would
stop the practice of vandals posting content that is slanderous or knowingly
incorrect. Wikipedia will either have to fix the problem or will lose
whatever credibility it still has, he said.
"The marketplace of ideas ultimately will take care of the problem,"
Seigenthaler said. "In the meantime, what happens to people like me?"
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