Dave Gerard spooks his way onto BBC Radio 2's Drivetime with Chris Evans
. He's been on the BBC more often than Jonathan Ross in the last few weeks. http://neurolysis.blogspot.com/2009/01/dav...bc-radio-2.html
Well spoken woman: Well, Wikipedia has proved the surprising wisdom of crowds, but the downside is that some people in most crowds just love a practical joke - so the people behind the online encyclopaedia are considering are considering tightening the rules on who can edit the entries. David Gerard is one of Wikipedia's many volunteers, and is on the phone to explain why [flagged revisions are being considered]; hello David.
Gerard : Hello.
Well spoken woman: Before we go any further, can you just explain what you do as a volunteer for Wikipedia?
Gerard: Um, I'm an editor on the English Wikipedia and one of the administrators - there's about a thousand of them, they're like, um, messageboard moderators. Um, basica- and I do a lot of answering the phone for the Foundation in the UK. I work a day job as well, it's just a volunteer thing.
Well spoken woman: Okay, and what prompted this change to the editing rules - what happened?
Gerard: Um, well, it was proposed a couple of years ago, when we decided we could, uh, make things better by allowing ed- 'cause we have a lot of articles that - because the internet's part of the real world, this means that there are a certain number of idiots. And so they come on and they write rubbish.
Well spoken woman: Mm-hmm.
Gerard: And we kick them off and we change their stuff back. Now, um, the trouble is when this happens on articles about things like living people, 'cause if it's about a chemical element or a piece of history no-one really worries that much, but if it's the first hit on your name, that - something really defamatory then that's a problem; and what we had to do in the past is lock these entries from editing, and we don't want to do that, so, the new change is to make it so that people can edit them, but the changes don't always appear live unless you've been around the encyclopaedia for a while, editing.
Well spoken woman: And so people like you would then check these entries, and when they were checked out they would go live?
Gerard: Something like that, yeah.
Well spoken woman: Is that really practical?
Gerard: Well, they've been running it on the German Wikipedia for a while now, um, this change is actually putting it on the English one. The German Wikipedia run it on all their articles, and have had some interesting results, um, sometimes things took a bit long to be fixed; we don't want it to have huge delays, so basically we're just running a trial, only focusing on living biographies, 'cause everyone who's got an article looks it up and sometimes they don't like the rubbish people put there - we want to keep the rubbish down.
Well spoken woman: And generally it went down okay, it's went down ok in Germany, has it?
Gerard: On the German Wikipedia, yeah.
Well spoken woman: A lot of people are up in arms about it here, aren't they?
Gerard: Oh yeah, um, they are worried that it'll be, um, immediately expanded to all articles before it can possibly scale so we cannot keep up with it, which is a fair enough worry. Um, and, so, we're going to do a very short trial to see how it goes.
Well spoken woman: And is this imminent?
Gerard: Um, w- I don't know what [the] time frame is, but we've asked them to switch it on, we're just setting up exactly what's going to happen [and] when, but we hope it'll happen soon, 'cause we've been... this idea's been bouncing around for a couple of years now. The idea is to do something that will actually make it possible for people to just edit articles even if their changes don't appear immediately. Obviously that means that you don't get the joy of participation, but it also means the vandals don't get the immediate joy of leaving rubbish all over the place.
Well spoken woman: Okay, well I guess the only way to find out whether it will work and whether it will be popular is to do it. Thank you very much, David Gerard, one of Wikipedia's many volunteers.
Gerard: Thank you.