Wikipedia to Start Coloring Trust

    August 31, 2009
    Chris Crum

Last week, it was revealed that Wikipedia would be making some changes to its rules for editing. It was reported that the site was testing pages that would require people editing entries to have their changes approved by "experienced" editors before the changes would be made.

Now it appears that some other specific editorial changes are in store for the widely used encyclopedia site. The people behind Wikipedia reportedly intend to implement a color coded system of trust, called WikiTrust.

WikiTrust is a system that has been around since last year in the form of a MediaWiki extension (there’s also a Firefox extension). It was developed by researchers from the Wiki Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Starting this fall, it will be integrated directly into the Wikipedia experience.

WikiTrust adds a "check text" tab to a wiki, which enables visitors to check on the author, origin, and reliability of content. When activated, it displays text in color-coded fashion with the classic white background for high-trust text, and shades of orange that are the stronger, the lower the trust level. Wired Science explains:

When someone makes an edit, the background behind the new text gets shaded orange depending on their reputation: the brighter the orange, the less “trust” the text has. Then when another author edits the page, they essentially vote on the new text. If they like the edit, they’ll keep it, and if not, they’ll revert it. Text that persists will become less orange over time, as more editors give their votes of approval.

WikiTrust Firefox Add-On

Screenshot from Firefox Extension

Wikipedia will be including the tab at the top of the screen, so users can easily decide whether or not they want to use it. More information on how WikiTrust works can be found at this WikiTrust wiki.

Telegraph recently listed the top 50 most viewed Wikipedia articles of the last two years (HT: RRW). It would be interesting to see the trust level on the text within these pages.