Trinity Mirror have launched a ‘wiki for the North East’ as a result of an internal contest to bring out innovative ideas. Web developer Louise Midgley, from North-East division ncjmedia, received a cash prize and will receive future share of any profits from her idea: wikinortheast.co.uk “an online archive covering all aspects of the North-East region”.
HoldTheFrontPage reports that the wiki
“features up to 12 years’ worth of digital archives documenting the area’s events and people that were not previously being used on ncjmedia’s websites.
“The ultimate aim of the project is to create an ongoing, up-to-date encyclopaedic reference tool for the North East of England, written by people from, or with a connection to, the region.”
I’ve written extensively on wiki journalism and its possibilities, and it’s great to see some experimentation in the UK, but at this stage there is a small problem: it’s very hard to find anything to edit.
The site features a number of ‘topics’, like ‘Kevin Keegan’ or ‘Wind farms’. You cannot edit the topic overviews themselves – only ‘articles’ underneath them.
To further confuse things, ‘articles’ that are taken from the newspaper archive are not editable.
And at the moment, those are the only articles I could see. In other words, there’s nothing to edit.
The result is something of a wiki-blog hybrid – the most obvious button: ‘Add your content to this topic’ actually allows you to create an article from scratch (You can add a topic too, but have to do so from your account page).
One of the reasons Wikipedia was so successful is that it didn’t start with nothing: it took content created in a previous, edited, incarnation, along with copyright-free encyclopedia material. And it explicitly invited users to help with incomplete entries (‘nubs’).
Wiki Northeast would benefit from a similar approach: make archive articles editable; make topics editable; have content that needs editing. In other words: let go.
But the biggest challenge is building a community that cares enough about the site to repair the inevitable vandalism.