Almost Immediately, LA Times Yanks Wikitorials

They’re brand new, and they sound so cool! I was looking forward to checking out this bold new experiment in participatory editorials.

But alas, I’ll have to wait. Almost as soon as the LA Times’ new wikitorials went online, they got flooded with “inappropriate material.” So the Times pulled them, for now. Bummer…

Honestly, I expected the Times web and editorial staff would have seen this problem coming and implemented appropriate protective measures right from the start. This project sounded bold and creative – but it also sounded like a MAJOR spam and troll magnet. Even worse, from what I’ve seen online over the years Los Angeles appears to be a virulent breeding ground for especially ignorant, thin-skinned, tenacious legions of trolls.

I hope those wikitorials fare better when they return… If they return. I would like to see them at some point.

On a related note, when I first heard the term wikitorial I thought is was related to tutorial, rather than editorial. Now that I think of it, maybe that might be a more constructive and less spam/troll-prone direction.

Here’s my idea: News organizations could offer wiki-based backgrounders and tutorials on important public topics – with a focus on the news value and public interest aspects. I know this approach would be a bit tamer than wikified editorials, but maybe it’s worth considering. All news needs context, and this could be an especially rich source of context.

(Thanks to Below the Fold for tipping me off about this. Also, I’m cross-posting this on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits weblog.)