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March 18, 2006

Local "keep the bad stuff out" problem

We locally had an annoying pollution experience yesterday. Our research group at UM runs an ICD wiki for sharing our research, announcements, &c. Access is pretty open, and sure enough, after about a year in operation, a splogger found us. He or she created an account and added spam links to about 40 pages in the wiki (invisible to us but visible to search engines, to increase the link rankings for the underlying spam sites). One of our grad students, Rick Wash, spent hours cleaning things up for us. What's the solution?...

We haven't thought about any incentive schemes to protect our wiki yet (time to start thinking!). The obvious technological solution is to limit editing access to accounts authorized by a moderator, but that is not a great solution: we have over 120 new master's students entering the program every year, and we want them to be able to participate, but we don't have an automated system in place to give them accounts, so either they get to create their own, or we have to install some more overhead.

We could use the human solution, as Wikipedia does: let anyone in, but keep a close eye on changes, clean them up and disable abusing accounts -- what Rick did this time. But we don't have a lot of hard-core users, and that could become quite a large burden on the few who have wiki-admin skills.

Just a mildly painful reminder that there's a reason for us to be researching these problems!

Posted by jmm at March 18, 2006 12:37 PM

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