QA Pending Changes, June 2010

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What is Pending Changes?

Pending Changes is a new tool on the English Wikipedia that will let our community of editors open up articles that were previously protected from editing. This experimental tool is a community review process for changes made by new and anonymous users to selected Wikipedia articles, and will be used as a softer alternative to the editing restrictions currently in place on some articles. High-risk articles that are frequently subjected to malicious edits have long been locked and protected from editing by new and anonymous users. Pending Changes is intended to reduce the impact of disruptive edits or errors in articles without obstructing open, collaborative editing from anyone who wants to contribute.
Edits under Pending Changes will need to be community-reviewed before being visible on the main version of the article, but will still be viewable to everyone immediately by clicking the "Pending Changes" tab. It's called "Pending Changes" because the feature collects all of the edits (or changes) proposed by anonymous or new editors in a queue (pending) until they are reviewed by more senior editors. This experimental tool will help editors check new changes to articles more quickly and systematically.

How does Pending Changes work?

During a two-month trial, a limited number of articles on the English Wikipedia will have Pending Changes applied to them by the community. Once Pending Changes is applied to an article, the article will be open for edits by anyone, including anonymous and new users. An edit will be held in Pending Changes when an edit has been made by anonymous or newly-registered users, and edits made by any other editors when there are changes pending.
All edits waiting to be approved (or pending edits) will be open for anyone to see under the article’s “Pending Changes” tab. The changes will be transferred to the main version of the article once they have been reviewed.
Pending Changes will not be used on all articles on Wikipedia. It will only be used a very small percentage of the articles overall.

How will this change Wikipedia?

For the vast majority of readers, Pending Changes will have no effect at all, as this feature will be applied to a very limited number of pages (less than 0.1 percent of English Wikipedia's 3.3 million articles). A change some users may notice is that certain pages previously not open to editing will now have edit links. This tool was created to help our volunteer editors re-open pages that have been under edit protection—sometimes for years—allowing editors to quickly review edits. It's that simple. The feature should be beneficial for articles that are at high-risk for vandalism as it allows them to be opened up for editing. The editing process for all other articles remains the same.

Who can see changes that are pending?

Anyone can see the pending changes. A reader can view the proposed edits by clicking on "Pending Changes" on any article with Pending Changes enabled. If the user would like more details regarding the proposed changes they may still view the History tab as well.

Has this been tried before?

Pending Changes was designed specifically for use on the English Wikipedia. However, the software behind Pending Changes (called Flagged Revisions) was originally developed for the German Wikipedia, where it has been in use on all articles since 2008. Flagged Revisions has also been successfully used on other Wikimedia projects, including the English Wikinews.

Why is Pending Changes being implemented?

The English Wikipedia community requested Pending Changes in order to reduce the impact of disruptive edits, while still keeping Wikipedia open to contribution from everyone. The community decided through a poll which received 81 percent in support of the request. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Flagged_protection_and_patrolled_revisions/Poll)
Wikipedia volunteers have historically protected Wikipedia articles from erroneous edits using a combination of automated tools, manual checking and, in limited cases, page protection tools that can prevent edits from many or all users. This new tool allows editing volunteers to open up pages that are currently protected and to personally review edits before they become visible on the main article page. Rather than relying on automated "bots" and page protection, personal review by a volunteer is a long-term solution more in the collaborative spirit that the encyclopedia was founded on.

How do I know whether an article is using the software?

You will see a Pending Changes icon, a tiny magnifying glass, on the right side of the page near the article title. If there are unreviewed changes, you will see a "Pending Changes" tab in between the "Read" and "Edit" tabs on the article page. You will also see exactly how many changes are pending review.

Who will review and accept pending changes?

Any editor can make a request to the community to become a reviewer. The details about this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reviewers