“In the first years of the site, the press enjoyed noting funny instances of Wikipedia vandalism. But, as the tone of the coverage shifts toward praise, and on the site’s 20th anniversary, we feel journalism should help readers better understand Wikipedia’s policies and inner workings—in other words, improve the general public’s Wikipedia literacy. We have identified two major themes that might help reporters in this effort….
Although it is true that Wikipedia is, broadly-speaking, an openly editable project, journalists who suggest that the encyclopedia itself is a free-for-all do a disservice to their readers. Over the years, the Wikipedia community has created a large number of mechanisms that regulate its market of ideas. Perhaps the most important one is the ability to lock articles for public editing.
Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but temporarily disabling people from editing it anonymously can go an extremely long way in preventing disinformation. Articles such as the “COVID-19 pandemic” are subject to semi-protection, meaning that anonymous IP editing is not allowed and that any contributors must register an account. Other articles have more extensive protections, such as the article on Donald Trump, which has long been subject to extended-confirmed protection, meaning that only Wikipedia editors who have been active for 30 days and who have performed at least 500 edits can directly edit Trump’s page….
Wikipedia, in the singular, does not “decide” or “ban” anything; rather, the community, or different groups within it, reach a temporary consensus on certain issues. That’s understandably hard to pack within a headline. But journalism suggesting that Wikipedia is a monolithic agent with a single point of view simply misses the mark. …
A key determinant of notability is whether the subject has received significant coverage from reliable media sources. The volunteer Wikipedia editor who declined the draft page about Strickland did so because, according to the guideline, there wasn’t enough coverage of Strickland’s work in news articles and other independent secondary sources to establish her notability. Katherine Maher, executive director of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, later wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times headlined “Wikipedia Mirrors the World’s Gender Biases, It Doesn’t Cause Them.” Rather than cast the blame on Wikipedia or its policies, Maher challenged journalists to write more stories about notable women like Strickland so that volunteer Wikipedians had sufficient material to source in their own attempts to fix the bias. The media can do more than just call out biases on Wikipedia; it can also help address them. …”