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Archives/Jimbo Keynote

From Wikimania

An excerpt from Jimbo Wales' keynote address:

One of the social things that I think we can do is WP:BIO. During this past year, in the English Wikipedia in particular, our policies on biographies of living persons have become much more refined and really a a strong focus on higher quality.
Part of this is just in response by the community to not just the Siegenthaler incident but to lots of other similar incidents. As Wikipedia has gotten to be larger and larger, two things happen. It's become more and more important, so everybody who's famous, like, Stephen Colbert, looks himself up in Wikipedia. But also because the project's gotten larger and larger, we're actually writing articles about less and less famous people. So, you can write anything you want about George Bush and he's not going to call up on the phone and complain, right, he's heard it all. But what happens is, we have very minor celebrities and sort of controversial people, they read their article on Wikipedia and if it isn't good, then they complain, they get upset...
There's a sort of typical pattern where I've seen this happen over and over and over. Somebody, they go to an article and they see something they don't like in it so they blank the article. Right. So somebody warns them, and then they blank again and they get blocked. Right. Then they make a legal threat and they really get blocked. And it's just like a totally bad experience for that person, when in fact, they may have been right in the first place. Or maybe they weren't right. maybe they just didn't like what we wrote about them, but still, we didn't handle it well.
I think social policies have evolved in recent years, I mean the recent months, to actually handle this problem a lot better. A lot of the admins and experienced editors are taking a really strong stand against unsourced claims, which is always a typical example of the problem.
So my feeling of it is, my sense of it is, that the living biographies part of Wikipedia, which is one of the most difficult and most important areas, is one where we're really seeing a really massive movement towards higher quality. A lot of people in the community are really committed to that.
And the few people who are still sort of in the old days, saying, "Well, you know, it's a wiki, why don't we just... ", yeah, they're sort of falling by the wayside, because lots of people are saying actually, we have a really serious responsibility to get things right.