Wikipedia: Keep Your Hands Off Our 'Recession' Page

Temporary ban is keeping new and unregistered users from tweaking highly contested topic
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2022 10:25 AM CDT
Wikipedia Puts Kibosh on Editing of 'Recession' Page
A webpage of the Wikipedia website at an office in Brussels on Jan. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Are we or aren't we headed for (or already in) a recession? Consensus is still hard to come by, and Wikipedia has decided it's not going to be the place where this is all hashed out. NPR reports that the online encyclopedia has partially frozen edits to its page explaining "recession," barring new and unregistered users from making changes to the page until at least Wednesday. The page is now under "semi-protection" status, meaning those aforementioned users can't make a change until their accounts are at least four days old and they've made at least 10 changes to other Wikipedia pages.

To put in context how the "recession" page has been flooded with recent tweaks, Wiki history shows there were only two dozen revisions in total in 2022 prior to this week, reports Fortune; since last Monday, there have been an additional couple hundred or so. Longtime Wikipedia editors say this flurry of activity has consisted of seemingly partisan changes—the Biden administration has dismissed recession worries—that are coming without citations and without consensus, leading to "edit warring" that results in a slew of editorial overrides after other editors push back on such changes.

When such edit wars happen, editors are supposed to head over to a separate discussion page to work things out before making changes on a topic's page. NPR notes that after the lockdown, some of the site's more "seasoned" editors settled on this for its "recession" page: "Although the definition of a recession varies between different countries and scholars, two consecutive quarters of decline in a country's real gross domestic product (real GDP) is commonly used as a practical definition of a recession." When the ban lifts in two days, volunteer editors will review new contributors' changes once they're submitted to ensure they adhere to Wiki policy on citations and accuracy. (More recession stories.)

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