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Wikipedia goes with “Flagged Revisions”: Emphasizes on importance of discipline in crowd-sourced data

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on August 31, 2009

Crowd-sourcing to create an online repository of data/information has been a masterstroke from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia! However, monitoring content in flow and validating data to be “clean” is key to building credibility. A little bit of censorship/discipline of data may actually favor Crowd-sourcing and content democratization!

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia launched by American entrepreneur Jimmy Wales in 2001 with the idealistic intention of being an online repository of all human knowledge, announced this week that it would have to abandon one of its founding principles. To combat a growing amount of vandalism on the website, all entries would be edited before they go up on the site. Wiki announced this on August 31st and will conduct a pilot run over the next fortnight to assess the data validity, cleanliness on these lines.

 Previously, any user was allowed to make – almost – any change to any entry: this was hailed as part of the democratizing power of the internet. But a sharp increase in false information – particularly in relation to people still alive – has forced a rethink.


Wiki II

How did the Wikipedia work before?

Wales has been feted as a brilliant business mind and social innovator for tapping into a popular impulse to add to public knowledge that few people knew existed, and even fewer publicly predicted.

Wikipedia still works largely by allowing anybody to login as a user and click on an “Edit this page” tab at the top of an entry. From there it’s simply a case of making changes and saving them, albeit according to a policy on “biographies of living persons”.

Any changes are then filed under the “Edit history” of the page, and the IP address – a numbered identity that shows where the change has been made from – is also kept on record. Pages that contain unverified information are highlighted.

Wiki introduces “Flagged Revisions”

The new policy is referred to as “flagged revisions”. It allows editors to adjudicate (mainly through reference to other news sources) on changes made to the pages of a living person. The flagged revisions will be rolled out by September15th,2009, and Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation that runs the website, will monitor users responses over the trial period.

A team of “experienced volunteer editors” will oversee amendments to such pages. “We are no longer at the point where it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks”, said Michael Snow, chairman of the Wikimedia board.

And Mike Peel, its UK spokesman, clarified the intention: “Anyone can continue to edit these articles, but the work of inexperienced editors with less than three days’ experience will be subject to review by more experienced editors”, he said. “This is our attempt to create a buffer to ensure that editors do not commit acts of vandalism.”

“Twitter”ing away (part III)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on March 20, 2009

twitter-1Twitter has taken the lead from Digg in as far as micro-blogging and crowd sourced news and networking content is concerned. Interestingly, users of Digg and Twitter save the view that Twitter scores over Digg in terms of user control i.e the user controls his “following” list and is therefore able to screen the content in the way he likes. Thus the elements of social networking are more relevant in Twitter. Digg however is crowd sourcing to the core and is an open platform to voice views, opinions,suggestions etc. The user cannot regulate the flow of information and the source of the information. Thus Twitter is also relevant as apowerful relation marketing tool. (at the cost of loosing out on a pure crowd sourcing platform)

However the popularity of Twitter is based in a fact deeper than the celebrity usages and formidable following (of Techno Blogger, News and Broadcasting Corporations and Social networkers). As a social platform, Twitter is unique in terms of its API (application programming interface), which allows its access from variety of platforms. As stated earlier, Twitter is accessed from computers and the web only in 56% of the cases. Its API gives it the versatility to be accessed from IM platforms, Twhirl: its desktop client, TXT: the SMS based medium, Twitterific: its iPhone based interface and a whole host of other platforms.

Clever Read Write Web research estimates of the traffic source to twitter

Thus it is Twitter’s applications from their API that is making them grow rapidly. This enhances the ability of the user to  “tweet” from anywhere by simply using the mobile phone as the medium. By using the power of mobile phones, Twitter is integrating the user who may not be instantly connected to the internet to connect to twitter. There lies Twitter’s biggest strenght. Not that this strenght will not be replicable, but the first use of this medium has propelled Twitter to this position. Its user base has gone up by a multiple of 8 and is increase 60% MOM even as i write this blog.
Ironically however, the API which is so versatile in terms of access is and may not be the most stable for third party application hosting if it comes to monetizing the user base.There in,Twitter has a huge challenge of converting its API into a serious platform if it is to grow into a mainstream application.
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