More on the LA Times wiki project

Waxy links to Ilya’s thoughts on his involvement with the LA Times wiki project and notes “though it failed, this kind of media experimentation should be commended instead of ridiculed.” This is a very insightful read for sure and I just want to point out that my ridicule was not of the project, I’ve said here that this is a very interesting move and a move in the right direction, however the way they did it, and certainly the way they ended it is quite deserving of ridicule. Ilya make the point better with this bit:

And then the emailed us, asking for advice. Which both Jimbo and I have been very glad to provide. The people at the LA Times who were responsible for the wikitorial really want to do this right, but my feeling is that they simply didn’t yet know how to properly run a wiki. The terms of service were horrendous, the community-building was nearly non-existent. Even vandal-fighting tools like Recent Changes were not easily available.

So why did the wikitorial come down, and what does it mean? I argue that it wasn’t because of vandalism per se, but because LA Times wasn’t yet ready to start a community. They weren’t ready to trust random users enough to make them site admins. They weren’t ready to let users form policy.

I agree 100% that it’s amazing that they even attempted this, and I believe wholeheartedly that something like this can work, and should work, if done correctly. But Wikis, and Blogs, are not Newspapers, and if a newspaper wants to use these tools, the need to do more homework and make sure they are approaching them the way wikis and blogs work, not assuming they will work the same way newspapers do. And I think that is the problem, and that’s what I’ve been heckling. Old media assuming that new media plays by the same rules and finding out the hard way that it doesn’t. There’s room for this to work, and if the LA Times keeps taking steps in this direction that will be great, the trick is taking the right steps and then not turning back right away.