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Monday, November 29, 2004

From Wikipedia To WikiNews

Wired reports about the recent foray of wikipeia creators into creating a new wiki based news platform.
After revolutionizing the way an encyclopedia can be built and maintained, the team behind Wikipedia is attempting to apply its collaborative information-gathering mode to journalism. Through a new effort, Wikinews, members of the open-source community who write and edit Wikipedia's encyclopedia entries are encouraged to test their skills as journalists. The news site follows a similar set of rules as the encyclopedia, which allows anyone to edit and post corrections to entries, so long as each change is recorded. The current rendition of Wikinews is an experimental version that, according to Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, offers just a taste of what's to come when the news effort builds momentum. Although Wikipedia already posts entries tied to current events, Wales said the Wikinews effort employs a different writing style and approach. "Wikipedia has always been very strong for background articles on things that are in the news," Wales said. "But on Wikinews, each story is to be written as a news story as opposed to an encyclopedia article." In an online vote that concluded Nov. 12, members of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, decided by a wide margin to support launching the news site, described on the project discussion board as an effort "to collaboratively report and summarize news on all subjects from a neutral point of view."Unlike Wikipedia, Wikinews will present original material rather than just compiling and summarizing information found elsewhere, according to the news site's organizers. For future submissions, organizers also want to set up a system for accrediting Wikinews reporters who have actively participated in the project. Both Wikinews and Wikipedia run on Wiki software, an application that allows users to collectively author web documents. Each page on the site contains an "edit" link, which users can click to edit passages created by other writers.

Wales believes the process of collaborative editing has allowed Wikipedia -- which contains more than 1 million entries in more than 75 languages -- to maintain a neutral tone on a wide variety of controversial topics. He expects the same process to prevent bias in Wikinews coverage."The incentive for behavior in a wiki is to write in such a way that your writing can survive," he said. "The only way it can survive is if your writing is acceptable to an extremely wide audience."
Alex Halavais, graduate director for the informatics school at the University at Buffalo, said that Wikinews has much in common with two other efforts at citizen journalism, Indymedia and South Korea's Ohmynews.
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