Semi-protection tweaks prompt debate over ideals

A change in the semi-protection policy proposed earlier by Jimmy Wales grew into a general debate about Wikipedia's basic principles last week with outside pundits chiming in as well. In a provocative post that sparked additional discussion, Nicholas Carr proclaimed "The death of Wikipedia", although it emerged that he was speaking figuratively about Wikipedia as a mythical ideal, rather than the actual project.

On 19 May, Wales proposed a "limited extension" of the semi-protection policy. Making the observation that a few articles would probably be semi-protected on a fairly permanent basis (for example, the current US President), he suggested that the {{Sprotected}} template was "scary and distracting" to readers and that it wasn't necessary to announce semi-protection status to them. He also encouraged more use of semi-protection for "slightly well known but controversial individuals" whose articles do not get wide attention but are vulnerable to vandalism and heavily biased editing.

Carr, a journalist and blogger who has been critical of Web 2.0 concepts and previously pointed out shortcomings in Wikipedia, published his essay last Tuesday, calling Wales' proposal an "epitaph" and a sign that the founding ideals of the project were being abandoned. A number of people responded, including Wales, who criticized Carr's characterization of this as a shift to a "gated community" and said there had always been restrictions on editing (although page protection was not used initially, and its first implementation for the Main Page was somewhat controversial). Wales argued that semi-protection was actually "a bold step toward openness" compared to having the articles protected from editing entirely, a practice of which Carr was apparently unaware.

The ongoing discussion drew others in as well. Clay Shirky wrote a response, "News of Wikipedia's Death Greatly Exaggerated", pointing to the tension between Carr's earlier criticism of Wikipedia questioning the value of "openness at all costs" and the "crocodile tears" he was shedding over its demise. Carr followed up with an effort to "bury the myth", now focusing on misconceptions produced by some of the coverage about Wikipedia, which he attributed partly to the slogan, "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit". He did concede that outside of the myth, "Wikipedia is an amazing achievement, with considerable strengths and considerable weaknesses."

Meanwhile, Wales' actual proposal has in fact led to changes in the semi-protection policy, although with some modifications from what he suggested. While the idea of "permanent semi-protection" has gained some acceptance, several people expressed concerns about removing the notice. As it turns out, the template still appears on most semi-protected articles, including George W. Bush. Instead, the solution seemed to be editing the template to make its appearance less "scary", by moderating the language and removing the padlock image. However, this has since been reverted, and the padlock has been restored.

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.
== Title ==

"Semi-protection tweaks prompt debate over ideals" is the kind of title about which jokes are made. Read it like so:

  • (Semi-protection tweaks) prompt (debate over ideals)
  • (Semi-protection) tweaks (prompt debate over ideals)

Why is the debate so prompt? How did semi-protection tweak the debate? Headlines like this are notably difficult for non-native English speakers to read. The thoroughly confused might try to parse it with debate as the verb, and wonder who the semi-protection tweaks are who are prompt(ly) debating. Or is the debate over?

A better headline would be:

  • Semi-protection modifications lead to debate about principles
  • Semi-protection changed, leading to debate over ideals

These would be somewhat more readable without reparsing. --FOo 05:30, 30 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Call me odd, but it parses fine for me. Ral315 (talk) 06:17, 30 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0