Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I got a message from Erik Moeller in my inbox today, and so should everybody else (if not you need to sign up for one of the various mailing lists). It was all about the new "Wikiquality" initiativew, involving the ne http://quality.wikimedia.org website, a new Wikiquality-l mailinglist, and the FlaggedRevs extension. It's all exciting stuff, and I think that Anthere was a genius for making reliability one of her focus points.

However, the concern that comes to my mind (as is usual) is that the whole thing seems very wikipedia-centric. Even on the quality.wikimedia.org website, it's all about wikipedia: not a single mention of any of the other sister projects. I can understand it, the whole issue was started because of reliability concerns over Wikipedia, and the negative press that it has received because of it's spam and vandalism and biased editing. I do understand that this is a good solution to a problem that Wikipedia has faced more then any other sister project.

However in this movement to improve Wikipedia I can see the catalyst for the explosive growth of other projects, specifically Wikibooks. One of the primary reasons why Wikibooks textbooks are not currently used in school class rooms, is precisely because of the non-static nature of those books. Teachers need a stable and reliable textbook to base a class around, and things would go to hell if the book changed mid-semester. Imagine if a classroom of young children reading a Wikijunior book woke up one morning to find pornographic image vandalism in their textbook? Stable versions would help to prevent that, and therefore make the whole experience more reliable and more safe.

Instead of hunting down the specific revision IDs of the pages in a book, a teacher could simply ask that the "current version" of the book be stabilized for the duration of the school period. Work could still continue in the background, and after the classes are over the new version could go live. Up till now, most classes have used Wikibooks as a collaborative writing medium, and we would really like to expand that to become a reading medium as well. I think this new quality assurance initiative is the last piece to the puzzle for Wikibooks to finally become a world-class source for reliable, high-quality textbooks.

1 comment:

  1. But one of the test wikis will be a copy of German wikibooks!. See http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikiquality#Revision_tagging