Over the next few days, English language Wikipedia users may notice a small change on some articles: a little magnifying glass where a lock once was. The icon, on the upper right corner of the article, represents an important step that Wikipedia volunteers have taken to open up articles that were previously protected from editing. Starting Tuesday at 11pm UTC, the English Wikipedia community will begin a two-month trial of a new tool called “Pending Changes” (formerly known as Flagged Protection).

Articles that are frequently subjected to malicious edits have long been locked, sometimes for years, and protected from editing by new and anonymous users. Over the last year, the Wikimedia Foundation and volunteers from the community have been working to develop Pending Changes, a softer alternative to these editing restrictions. At present, only about 0.1 percent of the 3.3 million articles on the English Wikipedia are under edit protection. This tool should help reduce disruptive edits or errors to articles while maintaining open, collaborative editing from anyone who wants to contribute.

When Pending Changes is applied to an article, the article will be open for editing by anyone, including anonymous and new users. When edits are made by new or anonymous users, changes will be reviewed before they appear on the main version of the article. Anyone can view these proposed edits by clicking on the “Pending Changes” tab alongside the “Edit” and the “History” tabs. In addition, by scrolling over the magnifying glass icon, you can quickly see exactly how many changes are pending review.

During this trial, the community will select which articles will use Pending Changes, with an initial 2,000 page maximum. If you’re interested in learning more about how Pending Changes works, or to test it out yourself, you can read our Q&A and the community-written help pages or check it out in Wikimedia Labs.

Moka Pantages, Communications Officer