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L.A. Times experiments with wikis

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June 18, 2005

L.A. Times experiments with wikis

Stephen Baker

Take a look at the wikitorials in the L.A. Times. Here's the news story on them. Do you think we should so something similar at BusinessWeek? My feeling? I'm interested in teaming up readers/contributors. Don't know if I want them rewriting my sentences, though. It's bad enough when editors do it.

12:00 PM

mainstream media

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I would not have people rewriting your stories. But I would have them contribute to shared knowledge: perhaps advice on gadgets or investments (beware) or management techniques.

Posted by: Jeff Jarvis at June 18, 2005 04:40 PM

Learn from the LA Times, don't mimic them. Their effort is likely to be a failure. Editorials are not particularly well suited for Wiki-fying, at least the completely open sort. Why not adopt some Wikipedia articles and encourage readers to turn stubs into proper encyclopedia articles? For example, Floyd Abrams is meantioned by Heather down below. His article in the Wikipedia is a stub. Why not adopt that and get it fleshed out? Perhaps that isn't a great choice, but there are plenty of other articles waiting to be lengthened and strengthened.

Posted by: Ernest Miller at June 18, 2005 10:19 PM

I took a look at the LA Times "experiment", and obviously it is an out of control failure. The whole point of a good experiment is to control it so that you can figure out what's really going on. Chaos is never a good experiment.

What past experience with wikis has shown is that they are a good tool for collaboration between a group of like-minded individuals, or where diligent moderators are "ridig herd."

The LA Times "experiment" demonstrates how clearly lacking the wiki technology is with regardles to tools for handling "branching" where different parties have radically different perspectives. The Wikitorial was in fact a complete rewrite of the original editorial that doesn't even come close to representing the ideas expressed in the original. It's simply an alternative point of view, with little room for other, competing points of view.

Despite the success of the Wikipedia and efforts to use wikis within birds-of-a-feather groups, wikis clearly aren't ready for prime time.

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at June 19, 2005 01:48 PM

As indicates, they did not last that long. I think you are doing it just right, with Trackbacks and Comments. I have done several trackbacks to you, but have not checked back to see, but I hope that the trackbacks are visible. If so, then you are doing it just right.

Posted by: Don Singleton at June 20, 2005 11:58 AM

All your articles are too "static" and sequentially natured -- they're written as if they were still being typed onto pieces of paper. Every article you post should be more "dynamic", evolvingly rewritten as new or better information becomes available. A moderated, wiki-like format gives you the ability to 1) change the "root" structure of the story, 2) simultaneously branch and 3) potentially bear much more fruit.

Your organization might contain creative journalists who initiate new stories. Then a "moderating" journalist would moderate the story and evolve the wiki over time. Special taxonomist editors might identify and link natural relationships and prune the stubs.

Posted by: Kent at June 20, 2005 01:44 PM

Well, they failed. At least for now.

This is what you will see on their site:

Where is the wikitorial?

Unfortunately, we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily, because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material.

Thanks and apologies to the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit.

Posted by: Wei-hsing Wang at June 21, 2005 10:55 AM

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