Wikipedia has a new "flagged revisions" editing policy for certain submissions. I think it makes sense. Under the new policy, your edits to Wikipedia will not be published until they have been approved. The approval is not by a subject matter expert, per se, but by an "experienced volunteer." That's a person who has been editing on Wikipedia for some time and who has not been blocked. The presumption is that these experienced volunteers understand the Wikipedia ethos best. There is no guarantee about how long the approval may take.
What I like about this approach is that it WILL deter the needless vandalism that is so annoying and will therefore improve the quality of Wikipedia articles. Waiting to have one's edits approved is no different than waiting to have a comment on a blog post approved. It's something most of us have gotten used to.
This approval process is designed to reduce the amount of vandalism and misinformation that has been appearing, particularly on the articles about famous people (e.g., Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Britney Spears, etc.). In fact, according to the article, Wikipedia Changes Editing Policy in PC World, this edit approval policy will now apply to all articles about living people.
Who Should Approve Articles about "Living People?" One question that springs to mind for me is why the living people themselves are not supposed to either contribute and/or approve changes made to the articles that others write about them. I'd like to be able to have a notification sent to me when there are changes that folks have made to the article about me, and I'd like to be able to comment on them during the approval process or even to BE the approver.
Should This Policy Apply to MORE Articles? Focusing on reducing vandalism in articles about living people is a good start. Often these gratuitous edits are either slanderous or they have serious consequences (for example, when someone's death is reported prematurely). Someone's reputation can be seriously damaged. But there are many articles about people who are no longer living or about places, things, concepts, and historical events that also have lots of misinformation in them. It will be interesting to see if, over time, this "changes are invisible until approved" policy will be applied more broadly.
Is there a way to involve subject matter experts without slowing the approval process down too much? Perhaps the editors could routinely reach out to experts on the topics at hand and ask them to review the changes quickly.
Getting the Balance of Timeliness and Accuracy Right. One of the things that is truly amazing about Wikipedia is how quickly articles appear and are edited when there's a hot news story, e.g., a natural disaster in a little-known part of the world, or a scientific or technical breakthrough. In the case of fast-breaking news—an area in which Wikipedia currently excels—the volunteer editors need to be on their toes, to either approve new edits quickly and/or to suspend flagged editing.
Watching Wikipedia Evolve. Many Wikipedians are appalled by this "invisible until approved" policy change, just as they were appalled when Wikipedia switched from allowing anonymous posts to requiring registration and authentication for all posters a number of years ago. But I believe that what we’re seeing is a natural and healthy evolution of a shared resource that we've all grown to appreciate as the first place to look something up (but not the final word) on any topic.