(Content here is cut/pasted from Village Pump for reference as of 16:30, 30 September 2006 (PDT))

I've assumed that the reason anonymous editing isn't allowed on Appropedia is to prevent vandalism. Wikipedia does allow anonymous editing, but has a much larger community, including lots of technically minded and Wikipedia-obsessed people, running bots and watching recent changes via IRC channel... so vandalism generally gets reverted very quickly (e.g. Tawkerbot2 typically reverts vandalism in something like 15 seconds).

Now, obviously we can't compare with that, yet... but are we in agreement that it's desirable to allow anonymous editing if we can minimise the effect of vandalism and spam? I would like to see this allowed, as my experience & observations on Wikipedia suggest that:

  • the lower barrier to entry means more contributions
  • anonymous editors can end up getting more involved, registering and contributing regularly
  • most anonymous contributions are actually valuable - I had assumed that most of the "bad edits" would be from anonymous editors, but when I've checked, that hasn't been the case at all.

If we did want to go down this path, we'd have to think about how we do it in a smaller community of editors like this one. Even if we grow by a factor of 10 or 100, we won't have Wikipedia-like abilities for fighting vandalism. So how could we do it - is there a way we could safely allow anonymous users?

Some suggested steps:

  • Perhaps someone (Lonny?) knows where to ask for advice on this, e.g. on a MediaWiki.org technical discussion page/list.
  • Wikipedia has a feature, where if an anonymous editor adds a link in their edit, they are required to do one of those anti-automation things where you read the funny-looking letters and type them in.
  • Perhaps we should follow Wikipedia's example in not allowing anon editors to create pages.
  • Do some more Promotion of Appropedia, mentioning it on permaculture, eco-village and sustainability lists, sites with a similar kind of focus, and to organizations like the various Engineers Without Borders organizations.
  • Make sure we have a robust Recent changes patrol. (I'm not sure if this requires people to be admins, in order to be able to "Mark as patrolled"). If we have a large enough "RC patrol" (like Recent changes patrol on Wikipedia) with members in a range of time zones, and with differing sleeping habits, we can come close to a 24 hour patrol. Note that the RC patrol is not just for vandalism - it's to check recent edits more generally, doing touch-ups, fixing links, making sure new pages are in the right categories, etc.
  • Learn about using the anti-vandalism tools and bots used on Wikipedia. Starting at Vandalism should lead to some relevant links. See also these tools developed by Wikipedians: Vandalfighter, Lupin's anti-vandal tool and VandalProof. Also, see the upcoming (4 August 2006) Wikimania talk on anti-vandalism tools here.

Thoughts? --Singkong2005 a.k.a. Chriswaterguy t - c 21:18, 30 July 2006 (PDT)

What do you think about temporarily opening up Appropedia to watch the effects? Then maybe we can look at appropriate measures for securing against vandalism. I have been researching the topic, and it seems quite difficult to patrol without antivandal software. (un)Fortunately we are quite far below the radar, and maybe that will afford us some time to grow without much vandalism. I will try to make it to some of the online wikimania talks, but I am currently on a boat in Mexico, with very limited internet access. Some vandalism will be caught and fixed quickly, because I am (un)fortunately addicted to Special:Recentchanges. --Lonny 14:06, 3 August 2006 (PDT)
I agree - let's open it up and see how it goes.
I see anti-vandalism measures as essential, and deserving of ongoing attention, but we don't have to wait for them to be rock-solid before we try opening up.
The next thing to look at, IMO, is the feature that prevents the addition of web addresses by anonymous editors without verifying they're a human editor (by reading the wavy letters). Wikipedia has it, and the Wikimania 2006 site, each with different settings (Wikipedia only requires it of anon editors, which is a better idea for this site, I think).
Perhaps the most useful tool is the recent changes page. Even better would be if we could choose to show only anonymous edits. Lupin's anti-vandal tool has something like this, and doesn't require software - it just uses changes to a ".js" page... however, I didn't work for me, when I tried it (in Wikipedia), possibly due to the fact that I'm on Linux at the moment. --Singkong2005 a.k.a. Chriswaterguy t - c 18:45, 3 August 2006 (PDT)
Alright, Appropedia is now open for a test run. Here are a few of my concerns:
  1. Vandalism
  2. Less accountability
  3. Less establishment of a social network
  4. Users forgetting to login (quite a few small ramifications, especially for Programs and Organization directors)
I have asked Ajay to work on the antivandalism measures, anybody else interested in helping? --Lonny 17:10, 5 August 2006 (PDT)

(end of paste from Village Pump --Curtbeckmann 16:30, 30 September 2006 (PDT))

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