Media coverage of this past week's Wikimania conference caused some consternation among Wikipedia editors when news circulated that plans were being made to permanently lock pages. As it turned out, the press had mistakenly transformed some comments from Jimmy Wales into what many people took for a major announcement.
As reported by the media, Wales had been giving an interview to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying that Wikipedia planned to "freeze" the content of pages once they reached a state of "undisputed" quality. The story was picked up by the Reuters wire service and thus spread to a number of news outlets. A typical headline for the story ran: "Wikipedia to tighten editorial rules". The news also led to an extended discussion on Slashdot.
The apparent announcement worried some people who thought it would contradict the way Wikipedia works, and that most articles can never be truly "finished". However, Wales stated that there was no announcement, and the story resulted from a garbled translation. He explained that he had been answering questions about longstanding efforts to develop a stable version or Wikipedia 1.0, with his answer in English being translated to German, and the story later being translated back to English, resulting in the miscommunication.
In response to the "news", Wales posted a comment on Slashdot that started, "Wikipedia hereby formally announces tighter editorial controls on Reuters and Slashdot... ;-)". On the wikien-l mailing list, he added that he was "glad to see that the general reaction in the Wikipedia community was to doubt the media rather than simply assume that I've gone insane."
Although no announcement was being made, Wales pointed out, "We are constantly reviewing our policies and looking for ways to improve". One tool that may help in this process, an article rating feature designed by Magnus Manske, is still on hold. David Gerard, who has been active in pushing for it, reports that implementing the current code "would bring the wiki to a screeching overloaded halt." As a result, further improvement is needed before the feature could even be considered ready for a trial run.