An open Wikipedia isn't much either
"If it [Wikipedia] forbade anonymous edits - let alone required real names to edit - then the millions of casual edits wouldn't happen. Like it or not, being able to click, type, and click again to correct a typo or nonsensical paragraph is a virtue (albeit an abusable one)."
@ Spleen: That's an interesting point, and admittedly that's very much the lure that gets people "hooked" on Wikipedia. It's very much like a drug dealer giving you your first hit for free, knowing that you'll probably get addicted and come back for more.
The thing you miss, though, is that Wikipedia's primary problem is accountability. This is something that needs to be done if people are to get good, solid information from this behemoth. Of course, verifying information and placing any stamp of approval is impossible and unfeasible since you can't hold anyone to it! Aye carumba!
The structure of Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed. There is no "tier" system by which to process information. (And, no, "featured articles" or "good articles" don't cut it.) I'm pretty fond of the "Debian" method, and I believe it should be applied to Wikipedia. There needs to be a three-tier system: stable, testing, and unstable. Unstable is where Wikipedia is at now, editable by any yahoo with the time on their hands; testing is where content gets vetted through for accuracy, prose and other things; and, finally, stable, where information is given a stamp of approval and Wikipedia can actually stand behind such information.
As the case currently is, the issue that rears its head is this: Who shall run this system? Well, you need accountable people on top, and that's Wikipedia's problem right there. They don't have anyone accountable on top. None whatsoever, and all the problems stem from that, as far as I can see.
So... what needs to be done: Wikimedia needs to be audited by an independent, reasonably unbiased third party. They need some sort of coach/guru experienced in running an effective non-profit organization, because they are wont to do things in a half-assed fashion. They've even admitted their lack of proper competence on their own mailing lists, particularly in lieu of the whole COO scandal. Secondly, they need to get rid of Jimbo Wales as head and install someone who has business and ethical acumen, not to mention anyone with him who are there solely for their own edification.
Third, there needs to be a drive to get academics involved with Wikipedia, in addition to professional copy editors and other seasoned professionals who can peer review content generated by Wikipedians. Having said that, I should note that most Wikipedians aren't bad people, they're well meaning and can be made even better... but it's the bad apples that really cause the problems with Wikipedia, and that's because there's no way to get rid of the major bad apples at all. The system is almost rigged to protect them, except when someone from the outside shines the light and attracts the press, then someone is thrown to the blade to make it seem like there's some accountability on the home front.
Why do you think Essjay was outed? Why do you think that the defemation was removed from John Siegenthaler's article? The press. Finally doing its job in showing us the truth, regardless of whether or not we can stomach it.