Wikipedia can be publicly edited by anyone. Well… most of the time.
There are some Wikipedia pages out there where users might discover they can’t actually edit the page. And one VERIFY reader may have encountered this shortly before submitting their question.
Karl J. asked: Are edits to the Shrek page restricted on Wikipedia?
Yes, the Wikipedia page for Shrek is semi-protected, which restricts edit access so only “confirmed” users can edit the page.
WHAT WE FOUND
The top right of the Shrek Wikipedia page has two symbols: a green plus to signify a good article and a grey lock to signify the article is semi-protected.
What does semi-protected mean? Wikipedia explains “Semi-protected pages cannot be edited by unregistered users (IP addresses), as well as accounts that are not autoconfirmed (accounts that are at least four days old and have made at least ten edits to Wikipedia) or confirmed.” Unregistered users and unconfirmed accounts can still suggest edits on protected pages’ talk pages.
Wikipedia explains it seeks to keep Wikipedia as open to public editing as possible, so it tries to keep its protected pages to a minimum. So what about Shrek gives it this high (dis)honor?
Well, one reason Wikipedia might protect a page is to combat persistent vandalism, a term Wikipedia uses to describe “editing (or other behavior) deliberately intended to obstruct or defeat the project's purpose, which is to create a free encyclopedia, in a variety of languages, presenting the sum of all human knowledge.”
And this is where the protection on the Shrek page becomes clear.
The three most recent changes to the page’s protection log craft a compelling narrative about the life and death of public editing to Shrek.
On April 11, 2013, the page was given indefinite semi-protection for “persistent vandalism.”
Eight years later, on April 18, 2021, the same administrator who first protected it said “let's give it a try” and removed the page’s protection.
“Persistent vandalism: tried for 2 days, didn't work (rather spectacularly so)” was all the administrator said when they reapplied the page’s protected status on April 21. It has been protected ever since.
While administrators protected Shrek’s page for short periods from time to time before 2013, Shrek’s rising star in online spaces eventually necessitated its indefinite lockdown.
Vandals in the page’s early days back in 2006 and 2007 would come and go to create changes like “Shrek is a big scary man who lives in the hills of Montana and likes to feed on little babies” or to change the movie’s title and titular character to “Jared.”
But Shrek eventually became an icon among internet memes and later edits were persistent in randomly sticking those memes onto the Wikipedia page or simply replacing the entire page’s content with said memes.
So, spectacularly, the page is consigned to a fate sitting on Wikipedia’s list of indefinitely protected pages.