The wikitorial debacle has the air of a parable: the Los Angeles
Angeles Times, for all its good intentions, moderated the wikitorial in
I know what you're thinking: wikitorial, when the Los Angeles Times took the well-intentioned but ill-informed step of letting the public edit its editorial.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales saw that and tried to get the Times to split the wikitorial in two--to fork it, in our argot.
By Sunday morning the first wikitorial
had been mired in foul language and photos, and was replaced by a note from site editors apologizing to "the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit.
Newspapers have traveled a tough road toward Web/print integration, from the Los Angeles Times' Wikitorial debacle to consumer complaints about the New York Times requiring payment to read popular columnists online.
Its Wikitorial failure -- an experiment in open access to rewriting online editorials and posting messages that sparked profanity and near-vandalizing of the Web site -- has not stopped the Los Angeles Times from going all-out on the Web.
The Los Angeles Times editorial pages snared the media limelight with its bold launch in June of a wikitorial
on the Iraq war--an opinion piece that invited online edits from readers who tussled, pro and con, over the conflict.
And a reasonably competent computer programmer could have found a way to force wikitorial
contributors through the Times' website registration process, which would have given the paper a better way to identify, and thus deter, would-be vandals.
When I was the editor of the Times' Orange County edition editorial page, we had a precursor to the wikitorial
may be one of those things that within six months will be standard.
We are still committed to trying more of these wikitorials
once we work out all the kinks.