Media

Hello, world: this is WikiTribune

Welcome to WikiTribune, a pilot project for a new approach to journalism where the community is at the center. This is not a news service – yet. It’ll only be the news service I envisage when you play a full role.

[To take part please SIGN ON or SIGN IN if you’re already registered.]

When I wrote the very first words in Wikipedia back in January 2001, I chose “Hello, world!”

It is a long-standing tradition among computer programmers that when you are learning a new programming language, the first thing you do is write a program that says “Hello, world!”

The day I opened Wikipedia to the public, January 15, 2001, it was not an encyclopedia – yet. Therefore, that was not the launch of an encyclopedia.

What was it, then? It was the launch of a project to build an encyclopedia.

What is this, then? This is the launch of a project to build a news service. An entirely new kind of news service in which the trusted users of the site – the community members – are treated as equal to the staff of the site. As with any true wiki, you can jump in and get involved at the highest levels, doing as much or as little as you like to help. As with any successful wiki, there will be detailed discussions and debates by the community to set policy on all the matters necessary to build a news service.

My goals are pretty easy to understand, but grand in scope (more fun that way, eh?): to build a global, multilingual, high quality, neutral news service. I want us to be in as many languages as possible as fast as possible. I want us to be more concerned with being right than being first. I want us to report objectively and factually and fairly on the news with no other agenda than this: The ultimate arbiters of the truth are the facts of reality. That’s agenda enough to keep us busy.

So now let me tell you my rough plans for the next few weeks.

If you’re reading this anytime soon after I wrote it, you’re lucky – we aren’t announcing this anywhere, and a big part of the point of this letter is to invite journalists who might be excited to write with awe or gleeful disappointment at our launch to relax a notch or two. Again, this is not the launch of a news service. This is the launch of a project to build a news service. That’s why it says “Pilot” right up at the top.

So we’ve just quietly opened up and we plan to be slowly but surely accepting people who have requested an invite. One of the key things that I want to get right from the very beginning is the attitude that we have as a community. Neutrality is nonnegotiable. Treating each other well is nonnegotiable. This is supposed to be fun. This is supposed to be different. This is supposed to matter.

Over time as we build up activity in the community, we’ll accept more and more people when we are confident that the administrators (some staff, some users) are ready.

We’re using WordPress as the core of our launch platform, and it has some major strengths as a content management system, not least of which is that it is open source and has a mature and strong ecosystem of open source developers. But it also has some major philosophical differences from a wiki – the default assumptions about who can do what are really quite different. So the job of building the software to make our news platform as powerful as we need it to be is going to take some time. Please help me figure out the priorities.

If you’re as excited about this as I am, please do tell a few people, especially people you trust, people you think are smart and kind and might be interested to join our merry band.

Hello, world! Let’s get to work… on WikiTribune.

—Jimbo

Want to read more?
– A chronological list of all stories on WikiTribune – in order of when they were last edited
– All current Projects we’d like your help on or which WikiTribune community members have proposed
– Our FAQs on conduct on WikiTribune, corrections & amplifications, style and sources and more
Want to write for WikiTribune straight away?
– Community editor Pete S. Young kindly wrote this guide to how to write a news story
We need and value your advice so please also go to Feedback on Everything Please!

Be the change. Support WikiTribune's mission to fix the news - Jimmy Wales

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Talk (21)

Phillip Bost

"Great idea."

Phillip Bost

"Would've been nice to have 1.5 years ..."

David Weinberger

"First, thank you! I'm excited to see ..."

Suhel Khan

"Hoping that Jimbo will help combat Fa..."

Author

United States
Jimmy is the founder of WikiTribune.

History for Story "Hello, world: this is WikiTribune"

  1. Peter Bale Adding sign in and register and some links to important pages at the bottom
  2. David Weinberger Minor edits for smoothness
  3. Steve Beatty minor edits
  4. Michael Tontchev Fixing grammatical mistake. The subject of the clause is users, not community.
  5. Gregory Kohs Testing how a hyphenation correction will be handled
  6. Peter Bale Updating
  7. Cassandra Vinograd summary
  8. Peter Bale Missing "be" inserted
  9. Holly Brockwell Proofreading, editing
  10. Peter Bale Bold and italics on intro
  11. Peter Bale Categories, tags
  12. Jimmy Wales moving image a bit
  13. Jimmy Wales fixing a typo
  14. Peter Bale Headline
  15. Peter Bale Added picture, change intro
  16. Peter Bale Added image and still working
  17. Jimmy Wales fixing carriage return formatting
  18. Jimmy Wales Draft

Hello, world: this is WikiTribune

Talk about this Story

  1. Other

    First, thank you! I’m excited to see how this project develops … or, more exactly, how We the People develop it, under your guidance and stewardship 🙂

    I made some minor edits, which felt weirder than editing a Wikipedia page, but I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to editing my own WordPress site, so maybe I was just having an idiosyncratic psychological reaction that should be ignored. (Thank goodness edits have to be approved!)

    But I think part of it is not (yet) having a robust Talk section and Talk culture where we know our ideas for edits will be challenged and debated. That sort of conversation can be quite distinct from the normal sorts of comments about the content of an article on a normal news site. Have you considered separating the discussion of revisions (“Your edit should be undone because…”) from comments on content (“That gosh darn White House!”)? Are you trying to discourage comments on content by lumping them under “Other talking point”? After all, there’s no shortage of places online to talk about the news.

    In any case, thank you again for putting something new and hopeful into the world.

  2. Rewrite

    Hoping that Jimbo will help combat Fake news. I am sure WikiTribune will work in that direction. And as always with you and for you Jimbo!! 🙂

  3. Other

    I contributed a lot to Wikipedia, largely driven by the fact that I couldn’t stand that “something is wrong on the internet”. I hope WikiTribune can combat fake news. Excited to be part of the community.

  4. Other

    Thanks for making this project. I can’t remember a time in my entire lifetime when it was more desperately needed, at least in the US.

    1. Rewrite

      Would’ve been nice to have 1.5 years ago, but I’m glad they took the time to develop this the right way instead of rushing something half-baked.

  5. Other

    Very cool project. Congrats Jimmy! Looking forward to submitting improvements and thoughts on programming and crypto related articles (my personal expertise).

  6. Other

    As a Canadian, I just liked that he used “eh”.

  7. Rewrite

    Tradition is Hello, World! with capital W, and exclamation point. I can agree to dropping the exclamation point but World here is as much a proper noun as WikiTribune and deserves capitalization

    1. Rewrite

      Jimmy Wales refers only to a computer program which print “Hello, world!”.
      The Wikipedia article of the “Hello, World!” program (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Hello,_World!%22_program) describes also the different writing styles (capital letters and/or exclamation mark).

  8. Other

    i just got “approved” and am really looking forward to this project. Your “Hello World” is reminiscent of the script “hello” on the original Apple Macintosh.

    1. Rewrite

      Arthur, just curious — when you go to a Beta article, do you see an “EDIT” option on the frozen banner (at the top)? And if so, does it take you into a WordPress admin environment? I had access to that yesterday, but today it has been removed.

      1. Rewrite

        I do see an ‘Edit’ option. I did a screen capture but can’t upload it here. FWIW, here’s the URL I get: https://beta.wikitribune.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=13988&action=edit

  9. Rewrite

    Hi Jimmy! I think it would be great to have this info in Spanish too, so I already translated it. Do you know how I can add the translation?

    Thanks!

  10. Rewrite

    I have some suggested improvements for this story:

    * ‘long standing’ should be ‘long-standing’
    – – – http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/writing-for-business/which-is-correct-long-standing-or-long-standing/

    * ‘program which says’ should be ‘program that says’
    – – – http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/which-vs-that

    * ‘The day I opened Wikipedia to the public’ probably should be ‘The day Larry Sanger and I opened Wikipedia to the public’
    – – –
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010506042824/www.nupedia.com/pipermail/nupedia-l/2001-January/000684.html

    * ‘the trusted users … is treated’ is awkward due to the addition of ‘ — the community –‘. Perhaps replace ‘the community’ with ‘the community members’.

    * ‘As with any true wiki’ is awkward, since Wikitribune is not a true wiki. It’s an (apparently) open WordPress blog.

    * ‘quietly opened up and we plan’ should be ‘quietly opened up, and we plan’
    – – – http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000069.htm

    Other than that, it’s quite well-written. I am frankly surprised that I already have “EDIT STORY” access to the admin menu of WordPress. I presume that that access will be taken away soon.

    1. Rewrite

      I believe your edits must be approved before they go live. But don’t be surprised – the community edibility is part of the whole point right?

  11. Rewrite

    vis-a-vis “Hello, world!” there is another “famous” phase that might be equally apropos that was “spoken” (or rather “typed”) from/on a PDP-11/20 VDH host (SU-DSL) as the first TCP/IP data transmission sent in Vint Cerf’s lab at Stanford: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”

    “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.” was(supposedly) the first intelligible words spoken over the telephone in 10 March 1876 by, viz.: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell

    yours truly was present in the room at this “happening” along with Vint’s students Jim Mathis (a colleague from/at SRI), Yogen Dalal and Dick Karp (who was the one who uttered/typed it) as best remembered/recalled.

  12. Rewrite

    jimmy, vis-a-vis your calling to “… please do tell a few people, especially people you trust, people you think are smart and kind and might be interested to join our merry band.”

    where do those few people we know and selectively evangelize WT to who are trustful/smart/etc go to sign up/get/join in?

    would you like (need?) them to perhaps provide a “referred/recommended by ___” as a matter of provenance and veracity?

  13. Rewrite
  14. Rewrite

    Missing “be” here…”I want us to more concerned”

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