Goals of WikiTrust

WikiTrust analyzes edits in real-time, as they are entered by users, and it computes author reputation, text trust, and text origin:

  • Text author: WikiTrust computes the author of every word of text, using an algorithm that is robust to cut-and-paste, delete-and-reinsert, and most type of attacks (we claim, all attacks -- try your hand at it and let us know!). If you click on the wikitrust tab, when the mouse pointer hovers over a word, the author of the word is displayed in a small pop-up next to the word.
  • Text origin: WikiTrust keeps track of the revision in which every word was inserted. In the wikitrust tab, clicking on a word redirects to the diff showing the the edit where the word was introduced. You can examine the edit, as well as access information on the author of the edit. As for author tracking, WikiTrust uses algorithms that are robust to attacks.
  • Text trust: The trust of a portion of text is computed according to the reputation of its author, as well as the reputation of all users who have subsequently revised the text and the article where the text appears. Text trust is displayed via text background colors in the wikitrust tab: the background is white for high-trust text, and shades of orange that are the stronger, the lower the text trust.
  • Author reputation is computed from content evolution: authors who provide lasting contributions gain reputation, while authors whose contributions are reverted in short order lose reputation. Thus, the reputation system provides an incentive towards constructive behavior.

The goal of the WikiTrust project is to facilitate online content creation and sharing. WikiTrust flags recent content changes that need scrutiny, and offers the text-tracking tools to investigate the context in which such changes were made. WikiTrust strives to benefit wiki authors, editors, and visitors:

  • Editors: WikiTrust makes recent changes easier to spot and investigate. Specifically, WikiTrust flags in orange the text that has changed recently, and that has not yet been sufficiently reviewed. By clicking on the text, it is possible to see the precise point in the article history when the text was added, so that editors (and visitors) can see both the author of the change, and the context in which the change was made. WikiTrust implements a smart text tracking algorithm, which tracks not only the text present in each page revision, but also all the text that was present but was later deleted, so that it can be correctly attributed if re-inserted.
  • Visitors: WikiTrust provides basic assurance that the information presented in the wiki has been reviewed by multiple authors. WikiTrust makes all recent, unrevised changes stand out, making it difficult to tamper with wiki information without being noticed. For instance, WikiTrust would make it difficult for pranksters or vandals to insert, unnoticed, false statements in biographical articles.

Of course, the algorithms implemented in WikiTrust cannot discover "truth", and cannot discover false information when all editors and visitors agree with it. If an article contains an error, and the error goes unnoticed in multiple revisions, WikiTrust will be of no help in identifying it. This is similar to the process of scientific review: once the reviewers agree, papers are published in conferences or journals, and the occasional error can (and often does) slip through.