I read a few articles so far about the Wikipedia edit process:

From my understanding, the good faith means anyone is allowed to edit any page on Wikipedia if they are a new user with no history of vandalism. However, something in the flagged revisions makes me think that only if you have 10 successful edits and are a user older than 4 days do you get automatic approval on a new edit. Otherwise, you need someone with those traits (a "trusted user") to approve your edits. Please fill in the gaps and incorrect things in my understanding.

Part of the question too (where I am missing things), is, does anyone notice when you make a change when you are a good faith (or new) author? Like, is there a queue somewhere of all changes anyone has made, so they can be double checked? Plus, yeah, what traits are required to be ablet o edit various types of pages, and to approve various types of edits, and to propose deletions of various pages or reject revisions. That is, what things (automated or manual) are triggered when someone makes a change?

1 Answer 1


Depends on which Wikipedia you are talking about; on English only a small fraction of pages use flagged revisions (it's a protection measure that gets enabled when a page gets abused or gets lots of clueless and overzealous new editors for some reason - currently enabled on 4K out of 6.5M articles). Most pages can be edited by anyone most of the time (including new users or without registration).

First, edits go through a set of automated filters that look for things like known spam URLs or recently popular patterns of vandalism. Then, they get saved and published (for the few pages using flagged revisions, saved but not published); all saved edits (on English Wikipedia that's something like 1.2 edits per second) go into a change feed watched by many experienced users, mainly for obvious signs of malicious or broken edits. Plus, notifications are sent users who are subscribed to that page - usually people who have edited the page in the past.

In terms of social hieararchy, you can edit without even logging in, and can do most things after singing up; there are two automatically managed user classes (Wikipedia calls them autoconfirmed and extended confirmed) which represent the user not being completely new (4 days and 10 edits / 30 days and 500 edits, respectively); these are required for some changes which are not trivial to undo (like renaming pages), and sometimes used to temporarily lock downpages from new and clueless users (when lots of new users arrive to some page, because of breaking news, or some influencer directing their audience there) and force them to use the article's discussion page instead.

Then there are some minor permissions that you need to ask for (and have a track record of being reasonable), typically functionality related to mass-reviewing edits (such as single-click undo) that can be abused, or for making changes that could cause major disruption (like changing thousands of pages with a single edit).

And finally there are roles (filled via elections) related to site governance, like banning users who repeatedly violate policy, or running the elections themselves. Wikipedia is in general pretty democratic, with decisions about article content and decisions about site policies happening via consensus or voting of the whole community, with everyone having equal say; but the interpretation and enforcement of policies is done a smaller number of people. You could say, Wikipedia does not have a Congress, but does have a police and judiciary.

If you want more details, all the various user groups are listed here.

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