BBC NEWS | Technology | Wikipedia tightens online rules
I don’t know if Wikipedia abuse falls under the cliche of the "tragedy of the commons" but there needs to be a corollary to Godwin’s Law to the effect of:
- When a system is opened to anonymous comment, it will inevitably blossom to the point of high awareness, at which point it will be vandalized, requiring the host to impose rules which remove the privilege of anonymity.
I’ve seen this first hand with Reel-Time when a crude forum application — HyperMail — permitted users to comment (often horribly) under psedonyms and even forged aliases, causing an entire community to bolt and lose faith in the host’s moderation capabilities. This gave way to forced, and some would say, draconian moderation policies to shut down the abusers.
Community abuse is an old story, once dating back to USENET, and a lesson learned that no matter how compelling the application, no matter how noble the intent, anonymity inevitably leads to vandalism and the destruction of faith in the structure.