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A taxonomy of wiki journalism

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago

A taxonomy of wiki journalism


Based on the review of examples of, and the literature on, wiki journalism, this paper argues there are key qualities that must be identified when examining the use of wikis in journalism:

  • Whether the topic is defined by an editor, or a user
  • Whether the first draft is produced by a journalist paid to do so, or by a user
  • Whether the material could have been produced without using wiki technology
  • Whether the timescale is finite (‘frozen’ for print publication), or infinite (ongoing)
  • Whether the wiki draft is professionally edited further for ‘final’ publication (in contrast to those which are edited solely by users)


Based on variations in the above, we can identify five broad types of wiki journalism:

  • ‘Second draft’ wikis: a ‘second stage’ piece of journalism, during which readers can edit an article produced in-house (Wired article, Esquire, LA Times wikitorial)
  • Crowdsourcing wiki: a means of covering material which could not have been produced in-house (probably for logistical reasons), but which becomes possible through wiki technology (San Diego Tribune's AmpliPedia; Wired How To Wiki)
  • Supplementary wiki: a supplement to a piece of original journalism, an ‘add-on’: "A tab to a story that says: Create a wiki for related stories" (Francisco, 2006) (CNET's India Tech Wiki; parts of the Wired How To Wiki)
  • Open wiki: an open space, whose subject matter is decided by the user, and where material may be produced that would not otherwise have been commissioned (Wikinews)
  • Logistical wiki: a wiki limited to in-house contributors which enables multiple authorship, and may also facilitate transparency, and/or an ongoing nature (Dewey Answers; N&Opedia)


This taxonomy can be mapped out as follows:


Wiki journalism: a taxonomy of types
  User-defined topic? User-created draft? Impossible without wiki? Infinite? Unedited?
Second-draft NO NO NO NO NO
Crowdsourcing NO NO YES MAYBE NO
Supplementary NO YES YES YES YES



This taxonomy is not definitive, but indicative: it is possible, for example, to have a second-draft wiki that was ongoing (infinite), but the suggestion is that this would be atypical. The taxonomy aims to provide a conceptual framework through which to analyse examples of wiki journalism. It highlights the range of types of wiki journalism in their relation to 'pure' wiki-ness: Open wiki journalism, for example, has all the qualities that could be argued are inherent in the form; whereas Second-Draft wiki journalism has none. The taxonomy also highlights the closeness of certain types of wiki journalism: Second-Draft and Crowdsourcing types, for instance, are almost identical save for the fact that a piece of Second-Draft wiki journalism does not need the audience in the same way.

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