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Editorial The Internet

Editorial Wiki Debuts At LA Times 190

jgarzik writes "The L.A. Times newspaper has launched a new form of editorial, the wikitorial. The LA Times editorial staff introduces the new feature in this editorial, and the first wikitorial, War and Consequences , has already been posted. Is this an innovative new way to interact with readers, or will it be constantly defaced by reactionaries?"
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Editorial Wiki Debuts At LA Times

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  • by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:36PM (#12853667) Homepage
    I would think that comments to a news editiorial would do pretty much the same thing. What's the benefit of being able to edit someone else's opinion?
    • What's the benefit of being able to edit someone else's opinion?
      Personally, I would love to be able to edit the opinions of others so long as others don't get to edit mine. Especially useful would be if those changes propagated back to the brain of the original opinion author.
    • What's the benefit of being able to edit someone else's opinion?

      None, and it's a form of negligence depending on how they deploy it.

      The whole point of an editorial page is that the newspaper filters interesting or informed opinion. If the newpaper is overwhelmed by the volume of input, they should try something like the Slashcode and let the public decide which opinions are best. Ultimately, the public does just this with the opinions they are presented with. Reporters for the paper and their editors,

      • Re:Kind of silly. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stevew ( 4845 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @09:04AM (#12856003) Journal
        Understatement - they've turned it off!

        And of course it will be constantly defaced!

        It is amazing that the LA Times would even try this since they do such a good job of "filtering" in their letters to the editor section. It is nominally 10/1 liberally biased.(That based on an unscientific poll my Dad did of the paper some years ago..) He and a couple hundred thousand others have dropped the paper because of it's bias. The paper's subscription rate have been rapidly declining over the last many years in large part due to this (the coming of the internet doubtless also has something to do with it).

        The LA Times - even the Fish don't want to be wrapped up in it anymore!
  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:36PM (#12853668) Journal
    Why would radicals not also be capable of defacing it? And why use the word "deface" anyway? Are any opposing opinions automatically supposed to be "defacing" it?
    • by Snarfangel ( 203258 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:45PM (#12853710) Homepage
      Why would radicals not also be capable of defacing it? And why use the word "deface" anyway? Are any opposing opinions automatically supposed to be "defacing" it?

      That's exactly what I wanted to know. It might as well have said "Will this be an effective means to bring the shining light of truth to the unwashed masses, or will the opposing party of darkness be able to subvert it to their own nefarious ends?"
      • "Will this be an effective means to bring the shining light of truth to the unwashed masses, or will the opposing party of darkness be able to subvert it to their own nefarious ends?"

        ... And the answer, as always, is yes to both. 8^)

    • Why would radicals not also be capable of defacing it?

      Why, don't radicals have real opinions? Or only moderate minded people?

      I think defacing must mean frosty piss and the like. Otherwise its not really a public forum at all.
    • Why would radicals not also be capable of defacing it?

      What is defacement to one person is likely an adjustment of facts to another. While I'm on the fence regarding the usefullness of this, I do think it could be quite an interesting socioligical experiment. It would be interesting to cache all of the iterations and watch the progression.

    • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:10PM (#12853816)
      Why would radicals not also be capable of defacing it? And why use the word "deface" anyway? Are any opposing opinions automatically supposed to be "defacing" it?

      Yes. Kind of like how a crazy shit who agrees with me is an activist, and a crazy shit who disagrees with me is a radical or extremist.

    • Since when are reactionaries and radicals mutually exclusive? Those who react to the editorial would be, regardless of political alignment, reactionaries.

      Defacing would differ from actually contributing to the wiki process in that someone does something adds something counter-productive instead of insightful. (Yes, you can be insightful whether you agree with the opinion stated or not.) Someone who deletes the whole article and puts "So-and-so sucks!" would be an example of a defacing reactionary.

      We co
    • "Reactionary" used to be a euphemism for extremists on the right wing. But more and more the left is meeting the definition of "reacting against progress and liberalism". More and more they are the ones reacting before thinking, the ones opposing progressive (in the non-leftist sense) policies.

      The LA Times should expect just as much defacement of conservative comments, as they do any other kind of defacement.
    • This is really a massively dumb idea.

      The end result of any wiki is either a self-reinforcing rush to the extreme (as a site acquires bias, new users of an opposite inclination would feel rejected), or a centre compromise. (as in wikipedia)

      Neither would make a good editorial/opinion article. Editorials need to be in the mildly insane category - enough to offend or incite emotion, and not enough to lose all credibility. The results of a wiki will always be either too boring, or too wacko to be good.
      • The left/right bias isn't even the real question though, I don't think. The "defacement" question isn't about somebody editing a liberal opinion and replacing it with a conservative one, it's about somebody doing this [wikipedia.org] to opinions they disagree with.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...because when radicals do it, it is simply another form of honest protest.
  • by poptones ( 653660 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:39PM (#12853684) Journal
    You can be a "member" of LA Times and let us fill your mailbos with shit, or you can not be a "member" and read our articles off the google cache.

    Thanks, I think I'll stick with Google.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:59PM (#12853780) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I have an account at latimes.com, and I don't think I get any email from them at all. (I used a tracking address, so I'd know if it was from them.)

      I'm sure you lose your soul if you register, just like when you get your picture taken, but at least thus far they haven't sent me any spam.

      Interestingly, if you want to participate in the wiki, that's a different sign-up. But at least the regular latimes.com sign-in appears to generate no spam.
    • You can be a "member" of LA Times and let us fill your mailbos with shit

      Or, you could use mailinator or a similar service to register with a fake "valid" email address and forget about it.
  • Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychic Burrito ( 611532 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:44PM (#12853705)
    What's currently important is not the question of "will it be defaced?", but "will it help removing some of the trenches that are in the US public opinion? Will it add positively to a constructive dialogue between the people?"

    I think that it will not, because the predominant circles active on the internet today fall pretty nicely in line with the LA Times readership, so there are not that many dialogues between the rivaling parties. But add a editorial wiki to a bible belt newspaper, and there will surely be dialogue going on indeed.
    • Re:Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:02PM (#12853793) Homepage Journal
      The world is already full of message boards, and they don't seem to have raised the level of dialogue. Check out slashdot any time a controversial topic is raised, and you'll see the supposedly smarter group of people here ranting like children.

      As far as I can tell, the level of national dialogue has declined at the same rate as communication has improved. I think a few weeks of national time-out, where nobody is allowed to discuss Iraq, abortion, or evolution, are in order.
      • Re:Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TykeClone ( 668449 ) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:57PM (#12854016) Homepage Journal
        and you'll see the supposedly smarter group of people here ranting like children.

        Only half of the smarter group are ranting like children...depending upon which half you agree with :)

      • Re:Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smart.id ( 264791 ) <jbdNO@SPAMjd87.com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:03PM (#12854039) Homepage
        Look, the world is full of message boards, but it's NOT full of intelligent people. When you overhear two people talking in a restaurant, they're often steadfast on a position they know nothing about, much like the masses you'll find at any message board.

        Don't stereotype Slashdot. The membership consists of people who are barely into middle school and those who have their Ph. Ds, and just about every single person you can think of in between. We are not necessarily a smarter group, but the majority of us may be more knowledgable about certain topics (more specifically, "nerdy" ones.) There is no one particular forum where you will always find an intelligent debate; that quality is determined by firstly if the people debating have any idea what the hell they're talking about, and secondly if they are intelligent enough to express their ideas. The web is teeming with information. Unfortunately, most of it is probably worthless. However, don't become so pessimistic. I don't think that the level of national dialogue has declined. It's probably stayed the same. The internet has just given more ignorant people an easy way to express themselves.
        • I was in a cynical mood when I wrote that. I agree with everything you said.

          I still think the national time out is a good idea.
        • Don't stereotype Slashdot. The membership consists of people who are barely into middle school and those who have their Ph. Ds, and just about every single person you can think of in between.

          Not only that, but (like usenet before it) the membership contains a mix of old hands and newbies - including a continuous flux of the latter.

          The old hands have gone through the arguments, changed some of their opinions thanks to the insights of others, and now are pretty stable in their current mindsets (pending NEW
        • Look, the world is full of message boards, but it's NOT full of intelligent people. When you overhear two people talking in a restaurant, they're often steadfast on a position they know nothing about, much like the masses you'll find at any message board.

          Don't stereotype Slashdot.


          So I'm not supposed to stereotype Slashdot but it's OK to stereotype "people talking at a restaurant". Did you ASK those people for the background on what they were talkking about?

          That seems like the very definition of irony
      • the level of national dialogue has declined at the same rate as communication has improved

        Once again, where is the sad-but-true mod when I need it.. But really, isn't the problem that this "improvement" in communications, even as it may have reduced overhead costs and whatnot, is false diversity? I mean, sure you have 100 channels, but for most of those you can pretty much predict the kind of spin they'll apply.

        If you ask me (which of course no one does) the real problem here is that people mistake thems
    • But add a editorial wiki to a bible belt newspaper, and there will surely be dialogue going on indeed.

      But is it the right kind of dialogue? With an impersonal medium such as the internet, misunderstandings are easily created. It's also easier to be an asshole. And a wiki is wrong in the first place, since it's endlessly editable. A proper discussion board, moderated with an iron fist (to keep out people who can't be polite), would work better.

      Even then, I don't think that the textual medium is entirely a
  • by The_Wilschon ( 782534 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:44PM (#12853706) Homepage
    I'm off to go deface it right now!
  • It won't work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:46PM (#12853716)
    Wikis are good if you're trying to build something that does not contain opinionated material. Or at the very least you want to contain the editors to have pretty similar opinions. If you open it up to the public, there is no way you can come up with a coherent, opinionated view, because by definition people have their own opinions. The Wikipedia works because it has as one of its most fundamental rules the Neutral Point of View. Additionally, it's an effort to build an encyclopedia, which is meant to represent facts as they are. Wikis are also good for building documentation, which is pretty objective in its matter. Wikitorial has none of these qualities.
    • Re:It won't work (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:06PM (#12853805)
      The Wikipedia works because

      It doesn't always work. Sometimes urban myths and other popular misconceptions can be found. Before believing anything you read there you had better be sure to get confirmation elsewhere. Not too surprising when you consider that 10 year olds can be the editors. I have seen 'book report' style entries that were clearly written by a preteen for what must have been a school project. Truth cannot be determined by popular opinion.
      • Truth cannot be determined by popular opinion.

        Take off the phrase "by popular opinion" and then you're right. Facts can be determined. Perceptions can be collected and specified. Truth is far too open to interpretations of these items and their connections to be universally agreed upon.

      • Wikipedia is not the only information storehouse to suffer from this problem - pretty much any site that claims to present third party facts and analysis suffers from bias and factual inaccuracy. Snopes and the Darwin Awards seem to be particularly bad for this, sometimes using very weak reasoning to dismiss alternative viewpoints that do not back those of the site editors. Their presence as almost being gospel in the minds of the wider public makes it somewhat difficult to refute their content sometimes.

      • It doesn't always work. Sometimes urban myths and other popular misconceptions can be found. Before believing anything you read there you had better be sure to get confirmation elsewhere.

        But that's also true of commercial encyclopedias, both printed and electronic. Sometimes it's even deliberate, with the editors pressing a political position as fact.

        You ALWAYS have to get confirmation elsewhere, no matter WHAT your source.

        At least with a wiki there's no pretence that the authors credentials are checke
    • This is freaky. An editorial wiki? Is that like a blog where the comments, including the initial article, change with the wind? What's the point? It's like a small child just learned how to do something his father can do, but doesn't realize its utility. Maybe I'm the one who doesn't get it?
    • There's a lot of areas where Wikipedia doesn't work, like say Mormonism, because opinions can obscure facts.
    • The Wikipedia works because ...

      Actually, I don't think the Wikipedia does work. There's some good articles, but there's also rather a lot of crap. Most articles are collections of random trivia and jumbled brain dumps, done by people who aren't interested in doing serious research.

      Then there's misinformation. There's actually less of this than you'd expect, since people tend to correct each other. But there's no way to tell which articles have had a proper fact check. People are supposed to cite their

    • If you not only RTFA, but also click through to the wiki of the editorials, they actually have two articles to edit: the original editoral and a counterpoint. They request that users respect the defined point of view of each article when editing.

      If they can get a community that will respect this, I think it can work.

      In fact, it reminds me of the way wikipedia often ends up implementing NPOV on contrivercial issues by saying "side A argues foo, but side B argues bar".
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:49PM (#12853728) Homepage
    The only difference between the newspaper and the wikitorial is that the parakeet can read and take a dump on the newspaper at the same time. If the parakeet took a dump on my LCD monitor while reading the wikitorial, the cat would have a special treat.
  • by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:50PM (#12853733) Homepage Journal

    In using wiki to maintain editorials, the paper is effectively telling the users to alter the content to match their own opinions and beliefs (since that's what most people would tend to do). Digestion of news is usually best done through reading many different opinions, each with an accredited source, to be able to form your own from the information. One 'unified' article in the wiki style doesn't seem to fit with this model, and I'm concious that a lot of people are trying to force wiki's to become the new 'blog' style phenomenon of internet publishing.

    To me, a traditional comments thread would be far more appropriate for news reporting. A clear example of the suitability of these two methods can be seen here on slashdot as using wiki for a substitute to comments.. clearly something that would be cumberous at best, and most likely completely hopeless at effectively digesting stories.

  • defaced by who? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Saturday June 18, 2005 @07:53PM (#12853747) Homepage Journal
    or will it be constantly defaced by reactionaries
    If it's anything like other wikis, it will be constantly defaced by clueless idiots. A few of those might be "reactionaries", but most are just losers who are incapcable of making a positive contribution to anything.
  • "The elections may have represented progress; the violence does not."

    Oh. Yeah. Show me where in history cases where violence idicates the failure of progress.

    When you combine a pathetic editorial with a wiki, you get a pathetic wiki.
  • by peatbakke ( 52079 ) <peat@p e a t.org> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:09PM (#12853812) Homepage

    This anus allows L.A. Times readers to extend or argue cocks with editorial positions taken by the newsboner. It uses wikipedia syntax for erecting penises. -- http://www2.latimesinteractive.com/wiki/index.php/ Wikitorial [latimesinteractive.com]

  • Bad use of wiki. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryantate ( 97606 ) <ryantate@ryantate.com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:15PM (#12853840) Homepage
    Newspapers need to embrace the Web, but not like this.

    When we reporters go out and gather information and write a story, there needs to be a way for readers who know the topic to say, "hey, this is wrong," or "hey, you forgot this key point." After all, the reporter is almost always less knowledgable on any given article that he writes than his sources and certain readers.

    I could see a wiki or wiki-like technology being useful in correcting news errors (*cough* avoid jayson blair *cough*) or adding new perspectives (*cough* slashdot writ large *cough*) or even gathering story ideas. What's more, such technology would turn newspaper websites from electronic reprints into something even better than the print edition.

    But an editorial is supposed to be the voice of the newspaper itself. It is supposed to be an opinion with special significance, informed by all the reporting and editing the newspaper does over time, backed by an awesome institutional storehouse of knowledge.

    In short, the whole point of an editorial is that it represents one particular viewpoint, whether you agree with it or not. If the Wall Street Journal as a collective entity repeatedly slams Congressional Republicans for pork-barrel politics and fiscal irresponsibility, as it has in recent weeks, that carries particular weight, because the WSJ backs the Republicans more often than not and because it arguably keeps closer watch on the intersection between the economy and government than anyone else.

    Likewise, there is reason to care when the LA Times forms a new opinion about California government, the entertainment industry or myraid other subjects at which its expertise is authoritative. If you disagree, fine. You can write an op-ed opinion piece, or letter to the editor. You should certainly be empowered to post a comment on the LA Times website or a trackback to your own weblog post.

    But why on earth would I, LA Times reader, want you monkeying with the actual text of the LA Times' editorial? Why would I want to read a version of the editorial you defaced? If I care about your opinion -- maybe you're a film director who disagreed with the LAT on an entertainment industry editorial -- I would much rather read something you wrote from scratch than your own "version" of the LAT editorial.

    This seems misguided and frankly I am baffled why opinion editor Michael Kinsley, who used to helm Slate.com -- does not know better.
    • Ryan, you're dead-on right about this: It's the wrong specific application of the right general idea.

      The right general idea: We are an increasingly siloed society, with individual interactions outside of narrow, self-defined communities (the folks you work with, the geeks you code with, the people you see in church on Sunday, etc.) few and far between. Broad engagement in civic life is on the wane at best and nearly dead at worst. Newspapers (and yes, blogs and wikis too!) have a role to play in fixing th

      • Wow Greg, that's a really insightful comment. I'm glad there's someone else out there thinking about this constructively.

        You're right -- if newspapers can adapt to the Web, if there's any time left for that, they can empower citizens and actually change how government works. There's once concept I picked up from all my political science courses that keeps coming back up: any political item with concentrated benefits and diffuse costs is tough to oppose. Any political item with concentrated costs and diffu
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:30PM (#12853895)
    I've been looking through the diffs, and I see nothing but back and forth trollery from both conservatives and liberals. Instead of constructive thinking, it just looks like pointless, egotistical "I'm correct, you're not" bickering back and forth. With all this bickering, nothing is actually getting accomplished.

    A truly democratic-like society requires action, not just constant, self-righteous argumentery. But that won't happen as long as the Big Media continues to push for the liberal/conservative dichotomy, the whole "You're either with us or you're against us" attitude. We need to remember that we are all humans, and we must work together for real change, rather than just bicker on some experimental wiki.
  • OK so the the Op Ed page will just be whatever the loudest assholes say it is.
  • Although I am not sure of what the poster means by "reactionaries" (anyone who disagrees with him or is not a social revolutionary? ;-) , I think that this will be defaced in short order, and will fail. As exemplified by /. itself, there world is full of psychotic trolls.
  • Summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 823723423 ( 826403 )
    [1]Too many Iraqi troops have deserted, been overrun or are so poorly equipped that they should not be counted as trained forces

    [2]But today you have a new option: Rewrite the editorial yourself, using a Web page known as a "wiki," at latimes

    [3]For that reason, when you click below to enter the wikitorial area, you are acknowledging that the Los Angeles Times is not, and cannot be held, responsible for the words or actions of other readers on these pages
  • Perhaps this is just a tool to stir up strife. Remember, the LA Times main interest is finanial: they are they there to make money. Their goal is to deliver advertisements, both in paper and online. Providing news is secondary. Indeed, by moving the strife and controversy machine onto the consumers they are fostering a greater effect.

    Soon their wiki pages will become a "battleground" between your dichotomic "liberals" and "conservatives". They'll battle it out, trying to prove each other wrong. But in the
  • Wikitorial Fork (Score:3, Informative)

    by emerge-ant ( 727734 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:20PM (#12854101)
    The project has already been forked [corante.com], by Jimmy Wales himself, by starting a counterpoint editorial. Making room for different viewpoints may stave off edit wars. But the real issue is Terms and Conditions inherited from print.
  • There's already a revert war in progress between some user Jim Hall, who wants to title a section Downing Street Memo: The Left Questions Bush's Intentions on Buildup to War in Iraq) and another user Alainbloch who wants to title it Downing Street Memo: An Intent to Deceive?. The changelog contains comments such as "removing falsehoods" and "adding fair commentary". I predict this is going to devolve into an all-out edit war from between both "liberals" and "conservatives" with too much time on their hands
  • Wiki Wrestling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sundroid ( 777083 ) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:56PM (#12854448) Homepage
    Traditional dead-tree newspapers these days are scared to the death about their own survival because online news sites like Google News are luring Joe and Jane Click-Happys away from them. Putting aside the stern journalistic theories, LA Times might be onto something by creating this "Wiki Wrestling Arena" for political partisans to congregate and fight it out, thereby boosting its sagging readership.

    Wiki is a fascinating technology. The jury is still out on its virtue. Will it some day replace blogs? Personal journals? Social networking sites? Or perhaps instant messaging? We'll see. I've recently begun to test a free wiki hosting service called "PBwiki", which has a unique function -- it has a password-protection mechanism that lets the creator of the account decide who can edit his wiki pages. I've created a test wiki at: http://sunandfun.pbwiki.com/ [pbwiki.com], which has a link to the page where you can create your own account with them.
  • My impression of Wikis are they're great for maintaining loosely-structured text, but not more structured data. So a question tangentially related to this topic:

    Can wikis have components where one wiki page refer to 'slices' of another wiki page?

    For example, the wikipedia.org pages on Uruguay and Paraguay are:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruguay [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguay [wikipedia.org]

    Each page has a table at top right on vital stats for each country. However, the tables on these pages seem maintained
  • they make you jump through a lot of hoops before you can even get close to seeing the document's history, let alone make changes...
  • "...or will it be constantly defaced by reactionaries?

    In other news, Pravda staff found running Slashdot...

  • It's closed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:33AM (#12855720)
    Looks like the LA Times decided their experiment wasn't working after a few vandals decided to deface it with porn and goatsex images.

    Before that, it was a back and forth between various camps pushing their viewpoint or trying to keep a more neutral tone to the editorial.

    Now what is interesting is the google cache has one version of the wiki - making it appear to be the consensus version when it is only one of many edited versions. Which means, unless you cache every edit, Google will not provide a very robust view of the dialogue inherent in a Wiki; yet people will view their cache as authoritative.
  • "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."

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