Bill Thompson over at the BBC has a piece up over impending changes at Wikipedia. It seems the roll out of the German version will include a whole new level of admin. control. Gone, it appears are the days of "publish and edit." As Thompson asks
The large number of control features that are being added to Wikipedia, raise an interesting question for all who care about the site and its content: when does the Wikipedia stop being a wiki and just become another website?
Thompson is right to pose this question about what is it that makes a wiki a wiki? Does requiring new stories and edits to existing content make Wikipedia something less than a wiki? If every addition and edit needs to be vetted by an admin, then as Thompson says,
that's hardly the basis for a revolution in the way human knowledge is gathered and distributed, is it?
While I'm no wiki purist, it does seem that adding a layer of admin. control goes against the grain of what wikis are all about. Part of the coolness of a wiki is being able to see the edits one makes take effect as soon as they're made, whether that edit is as simple as fixing the tense of a verb, changing the syntax of a sentence, or correcting a factual error. Remove that instantaneous edit feature and you've taken some of the coolness away because you've taken away a bit of the agency that wiki users expecct. Agency is a heady thing; I think it's part of what attracts folks to wikis. The sense of agency that comes with being able to start an entry on cartoons, a bit of pop culture, or even just fix spelling errors in an entry you find interesting will be lost if Wikipedia forces every new entry and every edit to go through admin. review. The whole idea is that users, not admins., make the decisions about content and edits.