Wikipedia and Britannica modes of editing

Via Dave Lull, Wikipedia is considering introducing "flagged revisions", a way for the organisation to review content to avoid a repeat of incidents such as the incorrect report of Senator Ted Kennedy's death at an inauguration lunch. (Reported by Cnet news.) Is Wikipedia a news organisation or an encylopaedia? If it is an online encyclopaedia (as I thought it was), it doesn't need to bother about "breaking news" and scoops. It could set itself up not to have instant changes or additions to its content. If, on the other hand, it is a news organisation, it needs resourcing appropriately, otherwise the site becomes just like a comment thread on a blog – everyone, however ignorant, can get a moment in the sun (and cached in Internet searches). What of the question of speed with which user-generated content and edits appear on the site? In the article at the link, there are complaints that the German-language Wikipedia site took days for its moderators to approve content. This is not critical for an encyclopaedia. It is for a news publication.

Again via Dave, Encyclopaedia Britannica is continuing its efforts to remain relevant for the web 2.0 world by inviting user-generated content and edits (again). (Reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.) What's the difference between the two rival publications? "Wikipedia, which ranks among the world's top-10 most visited websites, is maintained by volunteers from all over the world and anyone with an internet connection can create and edit articles and publish them on the site. Would-be editors on the Britannica site will have to register using their real names and addresses before they are allowed to modify or write their own articles." I had a go but did not get very far in the complex system. I did learn, however, for free, that it is Oprah Winfrey's birthday.

PS Non-sequitur, but Howard Shore's score for Lord of the Rings remains brilliant however many times I listen to it. I've just heard the part when the Fellowship escape from Moria, and are struck by the emotional realisation that they have lost Gandalf. Wonderful. Sublime.