Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Hello, world: this is WikiTribune (wikitribune.com)
830 points by nafizh on Nov 29, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments

I hope this goes somewhere. I have been very disappointed that the social technology of a wiki has not been used much after Wikipedia itself.

In theory, an openly editable wiki cannot work. People will just vandalize everything and ruin it. Amazingly, it works in practice. Not perfectly, there are definitely biased articles and bad things in the community, but it works so much better than anyone could have predicted in 2001.

Yet, noone has used that insight to create other great user-created websites with almost universal write access. There are various smaller wikis that cover areas too niche for Wikipedia, like minor Star Wars characters. There's been various ideas of more locked down wikis, or wikis overseen by an editorial team, but that's just missing the point. Wikipedia is great because of the amazing scale you get when anyone can go in and add their bit, without asking for permission.

I disagree about "wiki not being used much [other than] Wikipedia [except super-niche areas]". Just a few successful, absolutely useful and worthwile as much as notable examples off the top of my head:

- http://www.scp-wiki.net/ — platform for artistic expression

- http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Duolingo_Wiki — practical FAQ for users, by users (I learned from it quite a few things I needed about the app)

- https://wiki.archlinux.org/ — super practical, ultimate guide/HOWTO for many Linux-related technologies

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WoWWiki

- not to mention cr*ploads of "corporate wikis" in corporate intranets where any and all information can be lost (ummm... "found" according to official corpo-speak...)

I pose that wiki as a technology is now firmly entrenched and was without doubt revolutionary. (Btw, it was pioneered on http://c2.com, not "Wikipedia itself".)

Good point, but I meant the social system of Wikipedia more than the technology. On a corporate intranet vandalism was never a concern, as you can always have their manager tell them to lay it off.

You can separate wiki history quite clearly into pre-Wikipedia (c2 and friends) and post-Wikipedia. What disappoints me is that post-Wikipedia wikis are almost all "Wikipedia for <niche>", rather than something new.

By "new" do you mean you just wish they had a different elevator pitch, or do you wish for an entirely new platform with communication and collaboration features, maybe along the lines of Google Wave, or do you mean something different, like OpenStreetMap where it's globally collaborative like Wikipedia, just for a different sort of information.

Would you consider Stack Exchange to include wiki concepts in a non-traditional (Wikipedia) manner?

Ah, so you mean the various orgs, policies, moderators, etc. "administrative" social structures that emerged on Wikipedia? In other words, more or less "meta.wikipedia.org"? If yes, that was not clear to me from your original post (to tell the truth, still isn't; that's why I decided to hereby ask in the end).

As to the "something new" in this area, one thing that comes to my mind is some wiki-based experiment/game I seem to have seen once, where its own rules could be edited; I think it was framed as a kind of "social experiment", but I can't google it out now. Other than that, I'm afraid I'm still not exactly sure what you're trying to say, so I find it hard to discuss or acknowledge yet...

That said, for sure I seen the wiki tech used in more than one SCP-like narrative/worldbuilding case.

On the other hand, the c2 wiki was in fact a kind of encyclopedia already, so maybe a wiki just naturally matches with such structural model?

You are likely thinking of the game https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic, which happens to be very well-suited for online play.

Two of the largest instances are https://agoranomic.org/ and https://blognomic.com/

> As to the "something new" in this area, one thing that comes to my mind is some wiki-based experiment/game I seem to have seen once, where its own rules could be edited

You might be thinking of Peter Suber's Nomic.


some wiki-based experiment/game I seem to have seen once, where its own rules could be edited; I think it was framed as a kind of "social experiment"

That's touched on in SF, in "The Moon Goddess and the Son" (1979), by Donald Kingsbury. It's not developed there, just mentioned briefly.

The only other wiki project I know of that's the opposite of Wikipedia for <niche> is https://everipedia.org/ which tries to be a wiki for "everything" by not having Wikipedia's deletionist rules. It's an alright site but has nowhere near the traffic and name brand as Wikipedia, even though it has all the pages Wikipedia has.

Several hackerspaces/makerspaces are physical space which run on the "just give anyone access, don't worry" philosophy. It also works out suprisingly well. I know spaces where over 250 people have (electronic) keys, with about 10 minutes of vetting.

Is there actually that much wiki-ing going on on SCP-wiki? It always seemed that it was just the author doing anything with the pieces more like a fanfiction.net than a wiki.

SCPs themselves can be written by anyone, thrown into the 'Sandbox' wiki, and approved by staff.

(I have never gone through the process myself, so if anyone else wants to clarify, please do.)

SCP articles are written by anyone and posted by anyone(who is a member, which. Is staff approval via simple rules and entering a code in application) and the community votes on it. Anything below a certain threshold is deleted by staff.

SCP is a good example of things that can go wrong with a wiki other than vandalism.

Heavy handed self-proclaimed editors with too much time on their hands to stifle any creative writing that doesn't fit the mold of schlocky fan fiction.

Other than not being forkable to satisfy the people who's fiction is excluded, what's the problem? You can't satisfy everyone, those that want a consistent theme and voice would be unhappy if they ease up.

Do any wiki's support forking and merging?

I recall running across c2 a few times .. there was also everything2.com from 1998 which was/is a community wiki with its own engine, and kuro5hin.com from 1999 which was wiki-ish as well

Is this still answering the original topic though?

None of these wikis have deep life and death financial interests tied to their content like news and indirectly political world views does.

I'd point to Openstreetmaps as another example

> Yet, noone has used that insight to create other great user-created websites with almost universal write access


True. I was surprised how easy OpenStreetMap was to edit. My own tiny street was misnamed. Many low-end GPS devices use that data. After I fixed that, deliveries and service became more reliable, and I stopped getting calls from people nearby but lost.

I never edited again after fixing the map for my own neighborhood. But that's fine. That's what you should do; check OpenStreetMap for places you know well and, if they need fixing, fix them.

Really? Wow. I recently moved in with my partner and we keep having issues with deliveries, I’d never have imagined it could be due to bad or missing OSM data. I’ll check when I’m near a computer.

Thank you for the heads up!

> like minor Star Wars characters

I think you're underestimating the value here. Sites like Wikia host an unimaginable sum of knowledge that appears nowhere else in the world. If you search for anything related to TV shows, comics, gaming, etc. you will end up on a Wikia article. For games like Minecraft, Wikis are a core part of the how you play the game.

This sort of reminded me of ChaosBot [0], something that sounds like what could be a total disaster, ended up being really neat.


Stackoverflow? Openstreetmap?

RapGenius or Genius now. :) Pretty awesome what they did there.

Wikipedia has a critical anti-spam effort (technology and human moderators) to prevent vandalism. That's why it's not covered in spam.

It's arguable that it's this process that allows the wiki concept to be successful in production.

Are the Wikipedia anti-spam/manipulation efforts discussed/outlined in detail somewhere?

In my opinion, the interesting decision at a news site (and determining the politics of a news site) is what gets printed/promoted. It's fundamentally different to an encyclopedia because an online encyclopedia can pretty much include everything, with a filter on notability. A news site that tried to include "everything that happened today" is useless, by definition news is a digest of facts over time where someone has applied the filter to what's important.

If you do this by community views/claps I think you get medium - a massive slant towards social justice, whatever Trump last tweeted and other divisive topics.

If you do it by some sort of committee arbitration like how Wikipedia resolves conflicts then that committee has all the power that matters, and there's less concrete logic to fall back on.

I've read a few of the links on this thing and I can't find how they propose to do it.

I don't quite understand how this is supposed to work anyway. In order to obtain genuine news, you need journalists and correspondents in the field. While sometimes regular citizens can do this job, it seems unlikely that they can do the work in general. Even newspapers and journal do not employ enough journalists, they also need to buy news from freelancers and press agencies.

It seems to me what they are planning is a mere news aggregation site instead. While this may be commendable if it's done the right way, it is also true that too many people already fail to to differentiate between those who actually report and produce news and those who merely copy&paste it from elsewhere or write opinion pieces about news.

They have already hired journalists. The readers and the staff journalists are supposed to work together; it's not just the readers doing the work.

I also don't understand, but I know that Jimmy Wales knows a little more of wikis and collaboration than me. I'd probably say that an editable encyclopedia wouldn't work. Now I consider it one of humanities greatest feats.

Go for it, Jimmy!

Actually, if I'm remembering the details correctly, Wales also didn't think it would work. Wikipedia arose as an offshoot of Wales' Nupedia. I don't think Wikipedia was his idea, and I believe he was opposed to the idea of something that was freely editable.

Well based on personal experience, or should I state a certain politically active relative who I need to ping about it.

It will be an interesting experiment co opted quickly to drive a specific political message. As in, they already use a mailing list to control reddit's political subs so a site like this is just another avenue to explore. any site where commenters have the ability to move into moderation positions or more is instantly corruptible and will be.

that is just how it is, PACs and related have realized the value and therefor they are assigned minders or whatever term you want to use to direct the conversation/etc the direction desired

> A news site that tried to include "everything that happened today" is useless,

That pretty much describes newspapers on in Internet age, though. I can trivially access newspaper websites across the US and much of the world, and see everything that happened recently that passes the local newspaper's bar for notability, which for a small town paper is going to be lower than for national news (as it should be).

We've developed (or should I say Google News and other sites have developed) systems to take filter the firehose in some fashion, and if WikiTribune started off simply linking to other people's reports on everything that happened every day, they would quickly be forced to develop their own filtering system.

Given Wikipedia's charitable mission, I imagine the system will be open in some fashion. While Wikipedia's committee holds an undue amount of power compared to random IP addresses editing that want to edit Wikipedia, think about how much power is bestowed upon the members of the board of the six companies that own 90% of the news media.

Right now, it takes a non-profit and their staff dedicated wholly to an issue (eg http://www.gunviolencearchive.org ) to offer data which a reporter can draw from, if not they are forced to do it themselves. I hope to see WikiTribune expose data and metadata about news stories that can then be plotted on a timeline to make it easier for reporters to see connections between stories, and allow to share those with commentary.

They could add some filters and drilldowns available to the user. For example, you could get a feed of news with a certain name, tag, or regarding locations you care about.

imo Reddit does it right: Hot content, new content, popular content, controversial content.

I don't mean to bag on Reddit because I agree they do it very well (based on how frequently I personally use it), but I would still agree with folks who've pointed how it can be subverted. r/politics seems to be the poster child of these naysayers.

I would say Reddit is a great example of an open platform getting vandalized by the public.

no one goes to Reddit to read the linked articles, they go to Reddit to enter an echo chamber (like HN) or deliberately quarrel

On a tangent you prodded me towards an insight: as mentioned other places news might not be what we lack, but journalism. And for tech news, hn does a great (or ok) job of doing a "collective writeup" of many news items. True, the discussions can get side-tracked - and are often more speculation than analysis. But on any given "news like" story there tends to be enough background and insight to sum up to the content of a decent article on the given event/revelation.

No-one actually writes it up, so you might average 150-200% more text than a great article - on the other hand some bias will be balanced out.

I'm not sure machine learning is (will ever be?) a good fit to fill in the role of journalist. But I think hobbyist/specialists dedicating a bit of time to commenting paired with a handful of people writing up the emerging concensus could be at least as good as much current mainstream media. I think that's true whether the experts knows the ins and outs of circuit design or schoolboard and neighbourhoods in a corner of Afghanistan - and who's gotten monetary support to build schools or something.

> on any given "news like" story there tends to be enough background and insight to sum up to the content of a decent article on the given event/revelation.

Exactly. The investigation, the debate and the plurality of viewpoints are easier to find in a reddit comment thread than a newspaper.

I do.

As somebody who ran a (now defunct) journalism startup and is still heavily involved in crowd-sourced muck-raking: I think this is exactly the wrong approach to massively collaborative journalism.

The thing we need _less_ of is "news". The thing we need more of is investigation. Even before the digital age, "news" was a way to sell paper with a mark-up. Now it's a way to sell eyeballs to advertisers. The fact that the fourth estate emerged was just a lucky byproduct of the "news" industry, even though it is the foundation of the modern respect for the role that journalism plays in society.

When it comes to massively collaborative investigation, the key thing is _process_, not product. Even though it has been tried unsuccessfully or semi-successfully many times (ex, old school WikiLeaks, OpenWatch, WikiNews, MuckRock), I still think that this is absolutely the problem that should be focused on.

The product of this investigation shouldn't be an article with mass market appeal, but really high-quality information that is useful for decision makers in relevant fields.

I think in terms of what is needed of tools to be developed and used, the keys are: transparency, data science, and communications process. Various initiatives have been successfully cobbled together using Google Docs, Facebook and Slack, but these are usually projects with finite scope and a handful of participants. Nothing has ever come close to the kind of impact and reach that Wikipedia has had.

I currently run the service https://pubmail.io as a tool for investigators and reporters to be more transparent in their email correspondence. Additional tools I'd like to see are tools for aggregating, combining and slicing relevant datasets for interesting patterns, and a central hub for mission-driven investigative collaboration. This is what my startup made, but it turns out that this is not a very capital-friendly or profit-friendly idea, so I think it would require a patron like Jimbo to really make this happen in a scalable, impactful way.

Still, I wsh this endeavor all the best of luck and hope that it pushes the needle in the right direction.

I also ran a now-semi-defunct crowdsource journalism startup (Grasswire).

What Wales will find (and I’ve talked with him about this) is that unlike Wikipedia the news world isn’t suffering for lack of content. Specifically, every single thing you could find on the WikiTribune page you could find in another place, probably written just as well, and still available for free.

WikiTribune needs to develop an edge. “We’re accurate” isn’t an edge, because most people consider news accurate and authoritative. “We’re fair” doesn’t matter, because the people that think news is inherently biased have a (probably biased) news source that they consider unbiased. They don’t appear to be taking a “We’re focused on only important stuff” or any of the other ways they could differentiate.

The power of crowdsourcing can/should be to produce types of news that for-profit news doesn’t do as well. Deep, investigative stuff that’s hard and expensive to do if you’re paying people for it. But that’s hard, and not many people click on it. Once you’ve done all that hard work, someone at NBC will take your research and write an article about it, tapping their enormous audience, and link back to you as a source (hey thanks!) Most people will never click.

There’s very little incentive to perform the type of journalism that’s actually needed, and even if you create it you don’t necessarily benefit from it.

I can even put that into perspective. The first time I deployed to CENTCOM (2004) there were more than 3500 US journalists already there (and there are many foreign journalists there too). The first time I went to Afghanistan (2009) I met one of the major CNN politics correspondents and his producer on a flight. You could honestly make the argument that with so much coverage putting your life on the line for a story that somebody else probably already has may not be worth it.

In that context war and combat were the big sellers and got the most coverage, because you just had to be in the right spot at the right time. There is little or not investigation. The best news coming out of there had nothing to do with combat action, but rather things that demanded real investigation. The hard work of journalism. These stories were extremely rare, in comparison.

The other major issue is allowing an audience to dictate your subject matter, which is my interpretation of crowdsourcing. I would say this is the quickest way to defeat your primary mission of objectivity and shortest path to bias. The big challenge here is how to determine what qualifies as a story worth publishing, particularly for an international audience.

One way to limit bias is to disallow opinion pieces and editorials. Fox News is, on occasion, a great source of journalism, but journalism doesn't drive its ratings. Editorial pundits do, and a clear bias is the result.

Out of sincere curiosity, what have been their journalistic achievements?

Also, their bias is not out of a need to make money. It's not incidental. It's an open, well-funded attempt to push the country to the right, and it worked.

They do really good stats. CNN frequently uses Fox stats.

> Also, their bias is not out of a need to make money. It's not incidental. It's an open, well-funded attempt to push the country to the right, and it worked.

I completely disagree. The pundits make money from advertising sales. The greater their following the more they can charge for ad time slots. Fox claims to be the highest rated and most watched televised news. It isn't about setting a political mandate. It is all about making money.

Moderates were pushed to the right after Obama's time in office just as they were pushed to the left after Bush's second term. Now, it seems, many voters are being pushed to the left since Trump has entered office. There isn't a conspiracy here.

EDIT: Rupert Murdock was a Hillary Clinton supporter.

> The other major issue is allowing an audience to dictate your subject matter...

Isn't that inevitable when your main revenue source is in-article advertising?

> WikiTribune needs to develop an edge. “We’re accurate” isn’t an edge

This. I subscribe to the New York Times. Not because I believe they cover everything the best (I go to sports blogs and r/cfb for college football), and not even because they cover the things I'm very interested in pretty well.

I subscribe, because on an average day, what they've chosen to cover and to cover well, generally appeals to me. This includes all the many, many things I am not aware of or give a high priority to on an average day, until I see it on the front page of the NYT.

This isn't at all an argument that the NYT is better than every other outlet there. First of all, there are places that beat out the NYT on some days -- and conversely, days when the NYT has done something abysmal.

But the cost of finding that optimal outlet (an argument for why personal optimization in this area has highly diminishing returns could be its own topic) -- which would be in addition to the cost of time that I spend consuming news and commentary -- isn't worth if relative to the NYT's success rate.

Note I'm never restricted to the NYT on any day, of course. I'm arguing for why I'm fine with having the habitual inclination (and the recurring credit card payment) to make the NYT my primary choice on an average day.

>Deep, investigative stuff that’s hard and expensive to do if you’re paying people for it.

That answer is really the fundamental issue. OP Mizza had 2 paragraphs about "process" and "tools" because he believes the barrier to investigative journalism is the lack of a collaboration/communications hub. He wrote:

>When it comes to massively collaborative investigation, the key thing is _process_, not product. [...] I think in terms of what is needed of tools to be developed [...] cobbled together using Google Docs, Facebook and Slack

It's misleading to think that a technical software solution such as having programmers develop a slack+github+crypto-email hub will unleash investigative journalism.

The real key issue is the funding, not the web communication platforms. Another commenter nodded in agreement with Mizza and said we need more "PBS Frontline". Well, that show is funded[1] by viewer donations and grants from billionaires' philanthropic foundations. (e.g. John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation oversees a ~$6 billion endowment.)

Can WikiTribune can attract billionaires to write checks and pay for investigative journalism? We don't know yet. Maybe the only realistic path is for WikiTribune to start modestly with their supporters paying $15/month[2] for "fact-checked" and "evidence-based" journalism and when they build enough of a reputation, billionaires will open their wallets to pay for expensive months-long investigative work.

If applying for grants from philanthropic foundations (like PBS Frontline has done) is the wrong funding model for investigative journalism, I'd rather we discuss alternative ways to pay journalists instead of software tools.

Yes, new collaborative software tools can help smooth over some editing workflows -- but that's not the real problem.

[1] https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/about-us/our-funders/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikitribune#Business_model

If it's not an eyeball-and-ad-based, for-profit business, then who cares if people click or not? They just need to click the donate button now and then.

In fact the central genius of it, and Wikipedia, is that it's basically outside the commercial realm, and therefore at least theoretically free of most of the distortions the profit motive creates in journalism.

Hence they don't really need an "edge" either, but if they did, they do have one: "We're a non-profit." And/or, "You wrote it." (The public, that is.)

It's basically a copy of Wikipedia where instead of "no primary sources" they'll likely toggle it over to "all primary sources" (or mostly). Though actually I wonder why they didn't just keep it as part of Wikipedia itself, but maybe that's the reason right there.

> Deep, investigative stuff that’s hard and expensive to do if you’re paying people for it.

And it's even harder if you are not a well known entity that can open doors. 60 Minutes, NYTimes, WSJ etc the usual suspects are a well oiled machine of access. Don't think for a second (I know this wasn't your point btw.) that a nobody even with money and talent can duplicate that advantage.

We’re accurate” isn’t an edge, because most people consider news accurate and authoritative. “We’re fair” doesn’t matter, because the people that think news is inherently 4biased have a (probably biased) news source that they consider unbiased. 4

I think/hope you might be mistaken here. People used to think UX wasn't a feature people would pay for, and Apple proved them wrong.

The existing "Wikipedia = relatively unbiased, and accurate" brand might make a big difference if WikiTribune can deliver.

An awful lot of people aren't at all interested in accurate. They want the biased news source that doesn't bother reporting things that will piss them off, and blows the things they like out of proportion. Any sources that don't do this are just fake news, biased, unreliable, etc...

You have papers with excellent track records for accurate reporting getting blasted as fake news constantly.

> You have papers with excellent track records for accurate reporting getting blasted as fake news constantly.

TBH same paper can have a track record of accurate reporting in some things, and be wildly biased, inaccurate and unreliable in other things. It is easy to find ones that are all-around bad, it's not hard to find ones that are good at something and bad at something, but finding ones that are universally good... that's challenging. I wonder which ones you think have excellent record, never reporting anything bad or inaccurate.

I wouldn't call the criterion for a good paper "never reports anything inaccurate" as news are written by humans and humans are fallible, but rather "is able to admit mistakes and will put effort into clarifying rather than covering them". Also I would criticise the term "not reporting anything bad" - that could also be interpreted as not reporting anything that could speak against the government, for example. Instead I would recommend "acts according to some set of morals" as a criterion - in Germany we have a "Press Code" that every journalist learns and that is also being observed by the German Press Council. Another note: I think there cannot exist such a thing as the one perfect paper, because there does not exist one perfect opinion or viewpoint. The purpose of a good paper is to bring that into account: To picture different, maybe yet unseen perspectives on a problem. A set of high quality papers with different focuses existing alongside each other is a good thing for the same reason.

One paper that does a great job in my opinion is "Die Zeit". I am not familiar with the American media landscape and thus a equivalent, however.

> inaccurate and unreliable in other things

They aren't often though, because they stake their reputation on being accurate.

Bias is harmful, but I think the WaPo and NYT are a much more acceptable level of bias then say, Fox.

Acceptable for those that agree with them, sure. Ask somebody who does not. And there is very little penalty for them for being inaccurate or biased if inaccuracy and bias aligns with biases of their audience, which are pretty clearly partisan. Do you know many Democrats that would stop reading NYT because they were hitting too hard on Trump or reported some news with anti-Republican bias? I don't think there are too many such people.

The same source can be blasted as fake news and regarded as credible by different audiences. You don't need to please everybody to have a viable media enterprise.

> really high-quality information that is useful for decision makers in relevant fields

Decision makers of any import have no shortage of high quality information. The availability of information is not a significant limiting factor on good decisions by powerful people. For example: Trump has the greatest information resources in the known world at his command yet he makes shitty decisions basically nonstop.

A shortage of information is not the social problem of today. The big social problem today is the selection of information. That has more to do with tribal trust and culture than the information itself.

For all the shortcomings of Wikipedia (and there are many), it is a source of information that is widely trusted and used across tribal boundaries. A "news" organization that achieves the same thing would be good.

There are plenty of people and orgs doing great investigations. The problems are getting them eyeballs, and getting past the trust barrier.

Who knows if Wikitribune will do it.

In many respects I agreed with the original comment you replied to, but something didn't quite sit right. I read the comment and thought that the commenter was obviously much more qualified to speak to the subject than I was, but I just felt that while he wasn't wrong, he wasn't completely right. You hit it right on the head.

Working in a Fortune 500 company it is amazing the kind of information we have available for "Powerful People". I also feel like more and more of that information is available to everyone, the difference is that "Powerful People" have the money and resources to pay teams to sift through, organize, and present the information in an actionable way. Companies, Powerful People, and Governments spend tons of resources on trying to understand the information. Data is cheap, understanding the data is extremely expensive.

Information is out there for the taking, but it is useless in the raw state it starts in.

I read an interesting story a few weeks ago about how the CIA has entire teams of cartographers whose job is to show data on information on maps in a way that tells a story. That is their full time job to work with researchers and analysts to create "pretty" representations of data that are informative and easy to digest.

I think data is only interesting because of the stories it tells. But picking a story out data can be time consuming and expensive and prone to errors. If WikiTribune enables experts and laypeople to collaborate in a productive way then I think it will be an amazing service.

I have lots of thoughts on all of this and am very very very interested to see where it goes. I really hope this is as great as it has the potential to be.

>The big social problem today is the selection of information.

So, really high quality information for decision makers in relevant fields?

To some extent, the OP surely meant getting professionals access to proper data, but what I would call "general population" news should still be of high quality and integrity. And we the people are decision makers, through public opinion and through formal voting. So having journalists dig into issues and present facts substantiated through research and proof is critical.

I think you and OP agree more than you disagree.

A lot of people think that global warming is not caused by human activity. That's not because it is hard to get accurate information about global warming. In fact, it's incredibly easy--it's never been easier!--to learn all you want about global warming, basically for free.[1]

So why doesn't everybody do that? Some people just don't have time, but for a lot of people, they actively reject accurate, useful information that is available to them, for free. Why? That's an important question.

We're not lacking in investigations of global warming. We're lacking in trust in those investigations. Shoveling more information at those people is not going to solve the problem. The messenger matters! It matters more than the message, for a lot of people; it seems like a growing number of people.

So, that's why a new messenger might be good, even if they're not funding substantial new investigations.

[1] For no marginal cost beyond what it costs to access the Internet in general.

Yes, I think I just phrased that a bit poorly.

"People who need to make decisions" perhaps, rather than "decision makers", which is a loaded terms.

Most specifically: people who are consuming "news" information because it is relevant to their lives, not because it is just part of their continuous feed of info-tainment.

Trump doesn't make "shitty" decisions. Trump makes effective decisions that support goals you find shitty.

Are they effective? Take into consideration his travel bans.

Even if you support the goals, you would be hard pressed to argue that his decision and enactment process was ham-fisted and half-cocked, leading to many of the legal challenges being able to hold water. Knee-jerk responses, supporting statements that belied the goal ("this is not a travel ban" - "today we are putting a travel ban into place"), and so on.

Effective decisions are reasoned and well planned, not shot from the hip, which you could argue many of his decisions are, even removing the -substance- of the decision or the topic from the equation.

> Take into consideration his travel bans.

The ones where the Supreme Court essentially agreed with him, at least partially? I'd say he got what he wanted, even if with a delay. The goal was curtailing immigration from "bad" countries, and I think that has been achieved by him. And he also consolidated his base by showing that the other side will oppose what Trump's side considers fighting terrorism by any means, including legal tactics that look very questionable to a common person, like arguments "if other person did it, it is legal, but if Trump does it, it's illegal".

> leading to many of the legal challenges being able to hold water

There would be legal challenges in any case, and given how many judges are from the opposing party, at least some of them would succeed at least temporarily. It's unavoidable in any case - what's the point then taking it slow? It would just give the opposition more time to stall.

Could he do it in a softer and more gradual manner? Of course he could, but which one of his goals would that promote? His goals are curtailing immigration from "bad" countries and showing his base that he's ready to act on that and to deliver results. I don't see how soft approach would serve those goals.

> And he also consolidated his base by showing that the other side will oppose what Trump's side considers fighting terrorism by any means, including legal tactics that look very questionable to a common person, like arguments "if other person did it, it is legal, but if Trump does it, it's illegal".

He did it even better than you're saying, there's a missing piece that's almost never mentioned: The list of countries in the travel ban were identified in 2015 and early 2016 during the Obama administration, and already had restrictions due to being the most likely sources of terrorism.

Inconvenient truths like that are something I'd be concerned about being kept off of something like WikiTribune by squatters.

Everybody already knows that, so it's hardly inconvenient.

If you're going to go back and rest your argument on what the Obama administration did, then you still have to explain why Trump needed to do what he tried to do.

Calling back to the Obama adminstration's actions makes it harder, not easier to justify Trump's EO. You have to explain why the Obama administration's actions were insufficient--which Trump staff did not even try to do. They just asserted that he had the authority to do it, regardless of any proof it was necessary.

He does both. Though most of the stuff that is shitty-ineffective is noise, like saying something that offends people (usually those Trump or his hardcore supporters don't mind too much to offend). But when he does stuff, unlike his tweeting, it's much more organized and goal-oriented. He often behaves like a buffoon, but only in words, when he needs something, he knows how to get it. Of course, one may severely disagree with his goals, but that's another question, as you noted.

A measure of a good politician is the ability to pass legislation, which is why Regan is regarded as an effective president regardless of what political view you had.

A balanced view of Trump's pre-election promises and his ability to deliver on them is decidedly mixed, especially on the bigger promises like health and the wall:


Trump's legislative record is indeed a mixed bag at best, and the healthcare reform attempt has been an unquestionable failure. But he can't legislate by himself, so the Congress plays a major role there. But if you look at his regulatory record, where he can act alone, his actions has been much more efficient.

> http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37982000

This is not really a good list - e.g. Trump never really promised "Ban on Muslims" - it said once something that could be interpreted this way, and walked it back very quickly. And, as you know, Supreme Court did agree with him on travel restrictions (which aren't "ban on Muslims").

Also, saying all illegal immigrants "have to go" is not the same as saying he will deport all of them, let alone in the first year. It's like politician saying "murder is wrong" and then BBC would quote statistics of murder still happening as evidence of broken campaign promise. One should distinguish ideal picture as a statement and realistic possible picture as a policy.

He also never promised to "ditch NATO", not even close. He made some sounds that how the alliance is arranged is obsolete, but walked most of it back, and what remained was about how much money each member pays.

He did not make any specific promise on prosecuting Clinton. Even BBC notes the most he said is "fresh investigation", not prosecution. Investigation and prosecution are very different things. Of course, many Trump supporters would like to see Clinton prosecuted, but that doesn't mean Trump promised anything specific there.

Overall, BBC interpretation sounds very distorted, treating genuine campaign promises (like Obamacare reform) and random campaign rhetoric or random interview phrasethat was subsequently either substantially modified or completely abandoned by the election time as same kind of promise and rating them alike. This is a shoddy job.

I think Trump actually does both; his decisions pursue goals that I find distasteful, but they often do so in a shortsighted manner that obstructs building coalitions to advance those goals and to maintain the short-term gains he makes.

Of course, he could be playing 10-dimensional chess and cleverly be seeking more to wreak long-term chaos and disorder than to advance the superficially apparent agenda his actions seem to be aimed at. In which case you'd be right.

It could be also not about sowing discord but that failure itself is the goal in some cases.

What is said many times doesn't correspond to the real agenda. Take healthcare. Possibly a good number of politicians who crow about the evils of Obamacare really don't want it to fail. Otherwise it's going to cost their local districts money even though it's (conceptually) wildly unpopular with the constituency. So gosh darn it, they are trying really hard to overturn that evil communist plot but the pesky Democrats just keep blocking them at every turn!

With Trump who knows. He is a wildcard. It's hard to say what the real agenda is but it's probably not what he is verbalizing. Or if it is he isn't a real politician yet :)

    > Trump doesn't make "shitty" decisions
Shouldn't he have a string of some kind of victories by now, then? The only thing he can point to as an achievement to date appears to be the Gorsuch confirmation.

> The only thing he can point to as an achievement to date appears to be the Gorsuch confirmation.

I don't even know if that counts as a goal or achievement. There was a seat to fill so it was filled. I guess depends how you look at it.

Maybe pulling out of TPP? That was a major issue with Bernie supporters and was one the first things he did. Even then I remember being on /r/politics afterward and seeing comments about how "Maybe TPP is good and we should support it now that Trump took action against it".

Externally maybe making progress with ISIS? There was a pretty significant reduction of its territory. I was always baffled how during the last 8 years the rise of ISIS was portrayed as a complete surprise the US government, CIA just "couldn't believe" how fast it spread. Wonder how hard they worked to stop it, if even an amateur TV personality could make relatively quick progress of it in a short time.

Many supporters would say economy. It's hard to deny that the stock market has been doing pretty well. And, yes, the argument is that presidents don't really have that much influence on long term trends, which I agree with. However, in the PR domain, I imagine had the stock market gone down by the same amount, there would be no end to articles claiming "look what Trump" did.

Consumer confidence is allegedly at a 17 year high. At least Bloomberg says so https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-31/u-s-consu.... Kind of like the stock market thing, who's the president probably doesn't matter, but had it gone the opposite way there would be a lot of talk how the president caused it go down.

As they say, give the devil what belongs to the devil. Trump should be criticized and scrutinized. But it has to be an intelligent and effective criticism. It is rather disappointed to see things like how many scoops of ice-cream he ate, or how long he shook Macron's hand, or that he is stupid and has orange hair. A lot of the media has been reduced to those kind of stories.

> making progress with ISIS

They follow the same plan as the Obama administration: Build up Iraqi political authority and military effectiveness until they are ready to both drive out ISIS themselves, and to maintain military and political control of the areas on the long term. Under Obama, they built up the Iraqi army from the one that fled ISIS en mass to one that could fight long, difficult battles and hold ground permanently, and they built up the Iraqi central government's political authority. Under Obama were the first few victories and tests of the rebuilt Iraqi army, and they continued moving forward under the Trump administration.

It's based on a lesson the U.S. (re)learned in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: Driving out the enemy militarily is only the first step, and not at all sufficient. Then someone must establish political authority, including military control over the area and its people, or the enemy will simply return to claim it themselves - which is what happened with ISIS. The most famous dictum in military affairs is that 'war is politics by other means'. (Also, it makes more sense for the Iraqis to die for the nation of Iraq than the Americans.)

It's very hard for a foreign occupier to establish that political authority and maintain military control - imagine the prospect of the Iraqi army, no matter what their resources, trying to establish political authority in your town - and it requires lives and massive expenditures over decades, more than the U.S. is willing to invest (thankfully). Note that even the great historical empires used locals to run their foreign territories - overseen, of course, by an imperial governor and garrison.

Very good points. We all of course remember Bush's "Mission Accomplished". Yeah, losing territory is not the whole story. However it's an easily noticeable benchmark, and it's hard to claim ISIS holds a grip in the region if doesn't control cities and towns like it did.

> They follow the same plan as the Obama administration:

It depends how its executed. I would imagine the general outline would be the same, unless we switch to boots on the ground, or not using drones and so on, but sometimes it is the tweaks and adjustments that make a difference. At least looking at the territory it controlled, there was a much faster contraction there under Trump. Maybe Obama's plan finally had come to fruition and territory contraction coincided exactly with Trump's taking over the presidency, but that's a bit of a stretch I think.

Moreover, as much as we can say Obama had the same plan, it's good to remember that ISIS also grew on his watch. I don't believe that something like ISIS took us completely by surprise as government officials claimed. US had its fingers in the pie in the region since the Cold War, we might not have directly supported it, but we knew about it and maybe even allowed it grow, in order to destabilize Syria.

Ironically, ISIS had the same problem that the U.S. did in Iraq: An inability to politically and militarily secure the territory it captured. If you can't hold the territory for the long-term, militarily and politically, you are wasting lives and money in capturing it.

Regarding the U.S.: If we talk about what 'could be' or 'maybe' or what we 'imagine', as the parent comment does, we can make any claim. Based on what the military and experts have consistently said and on the facts on the ground: It's the same plan, working as designed; ISIS' loss of territory did not coincide with Trump taking office, it began in 2016.

> ISIS also grew on his [Obama's] watch

That has no implications for Trump's effectiveness.

> we knew about it [ISIS] and maybe even allowed it grow, in order to destabilize Syria.

Starting form the fundamentals of international relations (as I understand them), as the global, status quo superpower the U.S. wants stability globally, which protects the U.S.-led international order; ISIS is a threat to global stability. The U.S. has particularly supported stability in that region, to secure the global oil supply (essential to global stability and the U.S. economy) and also to protect the region's status quo U.S.-supported power structure, based in recent decades on the Saudis, Israel and Egypt. The U.S., by its actions, clearly prefers Assad to ISIS: The Americans even have allied in places with enemies including the Iranians (including in Iraq), Russians, Assad, and even other small fundamentalist groups against ISIS.

That doesn't mean ISIS took the U.S. by surprise, however. ISIS began in Syria, outside of the U.S.'s sphere at the time, and then spread to Iraq. The U.S.'s options in Iraq at the time were limited. The Iraqi government refused to allow U.S. forces in the country (that was the deal agreed to by Bush and executed by Obama, withdrawing U.S. forces). Also, the Iraqi army may have been expected to put up a fight instead of simply fleeing when faced with what were (IIRC) inferior forces.

> That has no implications for Trump's effectiveness.

Of course it does. If Obama was supporting and involved in propping up Syrian "rebels" in the area, with groups of people and equipment switching sides, he was not effectively 100% committed to wiping it out. So the strategy was the same, but pumping resources fighting Assad in the region on another hand was undermining that strategy.




> The U.S., by its actions, clearly prefers Assad to ISIS:

Right but it only took until Trump was elected to stop feeding "rebels" fighting Assad. Well at least that's what the press releases say. So U.S. actions were a schizophrenic and certainly don't say anything "clearly".

> That doesn't mean ISIS took the U.S. by surprise,

Obama says it did http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/07/politics/isis-surprise-obama/i... . He blames CIA backhandedly:

"The ability of ISIL to initiate major land offensives that took Mosul, for example, that was not on my intelligence radar screen," [Obama told Zakaria]

Trump has been doing more to support the rebels (I'm not sure why the parent put that word in quotes) than Obama. Until very recently, at least, the U.S. under Trump has been using rebel groups as ground forces in the fight against ISIS. Obama declined to arm the rebels in any significant way, in part because weapons tend to end up in the wrong hands, and he great restricted air support to protect civilians. People on the right criticized him heavily for both and Trump loosened restrictions on both. I saw reports that the rebels welcomed Trump's election in order to be rid of Obama's restrictions.

I've never seen anyone with expertise say that arms sent to the rebels significantly helped ISIS, or that supporting the rebels undermined the fight against ISIS. I did see plenty that indicated that the support of the rebels was ineffective and/or insufficient.

>> That doesn't mean ISIS took the U.S. by surprise,

> Obama says it did

You said in the GGP, "I don't believe that something like ISIS took us completely by surprise", and I was allowing that you might be right.

Yes, he's so effective that all of his major executive actions and legislative priorities have failed so far.

And this doesn't even get into his goals whose impossibility is obvious to people with real information--like getting Mexico to pay for the wall, or boosting the U.S. economy by starting trade wars, or getting China to put a leash on North Korea's nuclear program, or growing jobs in the coal power industry, etc.

Trump makes decisions that serve himself and his business associates first and foremost.

We have a website in Norway that does fact checking of news and statements made by politicians etc in the media: https://www.faktisk.no/om-oss/ (only in Norwegian)

I feel that they have a really meaningful and important role in the political debate today.

See also: https://www.poynter.org/channels/fact-checking

We have Politifact in USA that serves similar purpose: http://www.politifact.com/

It has come under its own criticisms, but the effort and philosophy is pretty laudable.

Fake news.

That's the big problem: it's that easy to delegitimize something in the eyes of enough people that a competing narrative, regardless of its factual value, can be put in competition with it.

One approach I'd like to see for this is the use of ethereum-style smart contracts to validate documents (and that it should be as obvious and reliable as a creative commons icon) and collections of source material and the semantic graph that connects them to be public, so that it's much harder for people to dismiss it by attacking the summary node that merely describes the relationship between them (the 'news story'). Textual narratives are stories about relationships and chronologies, but stories can be invalidated by attacking the teller. What we need are public shareable metadata and a protocol for linking disparate pieces of metadata together.

How is ethereum relevant here? All that's needed is a hyperlink and a hash code for each claim/source mentioned in an article.

Regular people don't understand hash codes, a popular cryptocurrency (which Ethereum might be in future istm) would serve that purpose without people needing to be nerds to recognize it.

People don't want to spend time knowing how all that shit works, the same way they just want to be able to recognize authentic cash notes in a physical wallet without having to know anything about specie currency or financial economics.

> One approach I'd like to see for this is the use of ethereum-style smart contracts to validate documents

You need to find a new hammer.

That's just the first thing I thought of (I'm not invested in it in any way and down't have any ethercoin). I just mean some sort of publicly-acceptable authentication mechanism that's simple and federated.

> The thing we need _less_ of is "news". The thing we need more of is investigation.

Hear, hear! I open the project and first two articles I read are about what Trump tweeted and how everybody is reacting. I can find that kind of stuff in literally every other news site. What I'd like to see is something deeper, more researched, more illuminating, something that makes me understand the world better, think about things I've never thought before, expose facts and connections I've not seen before. If it will be yet another log of what Trump tweeted and how everybody else reacted, I already have more than enough of those, not worth the effort for me to read another one and for the team to spend time to write another one.

I remember the early days of Wikipedia. I remember thinking "this is crap" and I don't think I was mistaken at the time. The interesting thing about Wikipedia is that there was never a period where it seemed "good but". It went from a few years of being crap to evoking wow very quickly. It went from a sustained period of less useful than Britannica to more useful in the blink of an eye.

Wikipedia went to wow because people (and machines) produced deep content. This suggests that deep reporting can be crowd sourced...I mean what but journalism is the Wikipedia article on the Trump presidency? The reporting just doesn't play out across static content on multiple sites. Consider the 2014 Romanian Presidential Election. [1] It might be considered authoritative reporting. The long process and continuous refinement of that reporting is hard to distinguish from investigative journalism in any way other than it not being in pursuit of a headline [2].

WikiTribune has the possibility of delivering news without mass market appeal precisely because Wikipedia more or less does it already. To the degree that the distinction between encyclopedias and newspapers come down to printing technology and the historical business models associated with those differences then the Wikipedia business model for journalism may be viable.

[1]: I picked it arbitrarily, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_presidential_election...

[2]: And cynically being published despite the lack of titillation worthy of a headline.

Yes, and yes (and yes). We have news-worthy stories just sitting there waiting to be discovered, because discovery is much harder, more expensive, and more risky than copying news stories or press-releases.

In fact, lately I've found the notion of "slow news" appealing: i.e. weekly (or even monthly) presentations of important news stories, increasing the SNR and total depth of the news I'm consuming.

This is a very insightful comment. I think one relevant factor is the demand for factual information vs entertainment content.

I struggle with what the appropriate mindset should be for someone undertaking journalism. Is a pre-existing belief in the legitimacy of various institutions/governments helpful or harmful to the process? Is respect/deference to officials, wealthy people, celebrities, etc., helpful or harmful?

Because there is so much demand for entertainment (of which partisan reporting is one form) I am really not sure how much actual demand there is for truthful, in-depth coverage.

The choice of what to cover entails a view foisted upon readers that some things are more worthy of our attention than others. So how can a journalism organization be upfront about the inevitable gaps in coverage so that readers will know to ask for coverage and know that the org is aware of the topic but lacks resources to cover it.

For instance, a story about the issues going on in Syria and no story about decaying highway infrastructure might entail the belief that one is important and the other is not important. So I think the ideal news organization would locate every story on some sort of content map that defined exactly where it fit into the organization's broader mission.

A story about Syria might be filed under "America's foreign engagements" and a story about decaying highways could be filed under "Tracking America's infrastructure quality and infrastructure projects". Personally I would love to see lots of coverage of infrastructure, as it is one of the few ways we can hold local, state and national governments accountable for one of their most important responsibilities.

But the idea of a front page that reflects (only) everything that is important that day is where (I think) the biases start to creep in.

Anyway, sorry about the digression, just wanted to express my appreciation for the parent comment.

> A story about Syria might be filed under "America's foreign engagements" and a story about decaying highways could be filed under "Tracking America's infrastructure quality and infrastructure projects".

I'd like to point out that this is meant to be a global news source so the fact that America is involved would hardly be the most significant aspect of a story about Syria.

Hah, those were simply examples about American news because America has some of the lowest quality journalism in the world.

I don't understand your comment - do you mean that every story has to be related to America in some way? (by which I guess you mean the United States of America, by the way, which is one of many countries inside the two America continents)

No, my comment is not meant to entail that at all. My intention was to give an example of two different stories which in typical journalistic environments would be reported on because they reinforce a particular narrative about what should be important to readers.

> by the way, which is one of many countries inside the two America continents

It's funny how Canadians never get upset at this the way other countries do.

Great points. I'm glad to see this WikiTribune and will try to support it, but it's producing more leaves when what we actually need is an easy way to navigate the branches. Ialready have access to a variety of news sources and though I like the collaborative approach on display here what's really missing are better semantic tools for parsing existing news.

Increasingly, I feel the web annotations standard might point a way forward because it offers people a way to share information about content that's not under control of the publisher. Of course, this will generate a flood of low-quality garbage of the sort found on conspiracy sites, but it also allows for the creation of federated graphs that point back to primary sources, and my bet is that structural integrity will eventually count for more than startle value.

> The thing we need more of is investigation. [...] really high-quality information that is useful for decision makers in relevant fields.

I tend to agree.

One thing I'd like to see is more of a focus on trends not events.

Do you have any examples of a public thread on Pubmail?

You should link to a 'demo' thread from the homepage. Maybe an example interview or discourse with a politician. This would be the best way to sell the idea.

Unfortunately the site got wiped out a few years ago so the best stuff is gone, but I've recently got it back on line in a more resilient, spam-resistant fashion.

There is a page of "Featured" exchanges, some of which include:

Fresenius Kabi confirming they are still acquiring a company even after its founder and board chair were arrested on a narcotics trafficking RICO:


AmerisourceBergen confirming they paid out sales commissions based on the sale of opioid drugs, and changing that policy after the 60 minutes exposé:


Some of the stuff is more trivial but needs to be done for completeness sake, like the WashPo denying payoff rumours:


Some of the stories are in silence - Cardinal Health and McKesson simply don't respond to any inquiries at all.

When it comes to investigative work, I think that the "story" is often in the aggregate rather than any one specific detail.

The thing news startups need more of is neither news nor investigation, but distribution. Too many news organisations think that quality content is the driver of news, when the challenge is to get distribution, and then you can make news of whatever quality you like. By focusing on "quality content" WikiTribune falls into the same trap.


What about a platform that incentivizes investigations, and publishers pay for it?

You have just described traditional publishing.

I thought journalists can only do investigations for the publisher that they work for?

Agreed. We need more organizations like PBS' Frontline.

It's funny you should mention that - the startup that I mentioned was part of the first class of an accelerator run by a PBS Frontline producer-turned-venture-capitalist. Lots of good advice on journalism and product development process, not so good advice on managing and growing capital-friendly businesses. PBS has the advantage of government backing, massive public good will, and a gargantuan fund raising arm. Still, a very interesting overlap.

The "government backing" portion is why PBS should not exist. They have the biggest conflict of interest in the world, because they are backed by a highly corrupt 3 trillion Dollar organization

I predict this will end up somewhere between (HuffPost - celebrity news) on the low end and Atlantic on the high end. Not a news site but a service that crafts content for specific tastes and views with a veneer of respectability... but no dissent. There won't be ads, but most of the typical readers will use adblockers so this is just a moral position.

Fact-gathering is done, it's called Reuters. Or AP. Reuters already fact-gathers in a timely manner and in many languages. Everything else is just opinion pieces disguised as journalism. Increasingly, this also encompasses WaPo and NYT, where most of the content is editorial rather than journalistic. There is actually little demand for another Reuters.

Basically no one with power enters the news business to actually deliver the news. Look at Bezos, Jobs' widow, Koch(s), etc...they are promoting their worldviews and trying to steer society

That's the thing, Reuters is already an excellent source, and is freely available. They seem to be the most unbiased news source out there: because they sell news to literally everyone, they're forced to be as non-biased as possible. Quote from a popular comment of mine a year ago:

>They might sell the same article to Russia Today, the New York Times, Fox, Al Jazeera, and the Times of India, so they can't cater to one crowd's political biases. I'm serious; all these news sources pay for Reuters articles.

>And even if you don't like Reuters, you've got to respect the speed at which they get out correct news. Before the Twittersphere erupts, before CNN loses its mind, before the alerts on the radio, Reuters has it. And if they don't know something, they say that they don't know it. It can make for frustratingly light articles, but any time I'm annoyed how empty the article is I realize that if it was bigger it'd be fluff or unverified claims.

Ultimately, wire services like Reuters are the best source of unbiased news today. They make their money selling news to papers, not consumers, so blowing small news out of proportion doesn't really help them either: if a paper wants sensationalized news, they're very capable of producing it themselves.

Honestly, I think this project could be interesting to watch, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it. If it takes off, I think the biggest plus to it will be investigative journalism that isn't usually done by wire services. But ultimately I think I'll continue to read Reuters for news.

WashPo just broke the allegations against Roy Moore. Before, they did Pulitzer Prize-winning investigations into the Presidents' foundation, and how it channeled donations into his businesses.

The NYT has had dozens of investigative reports in the last year. They were, for example, the first to reveal the meeting of the President's son and advisors with the underbelly of Russian politics. I think they also broke the allegations against Al Franken.

The wire services do valuable work, but they don't investigate. They are a mechanism to lower the costs of journalism by de-duplicating the manpower needed to, for example, attend press conferences. That approach is important, especially in times of financial pressures on journalism. But it doesn't suffice for the fourth estate to fulfil its duty to inform the public.

So I'll preface this with saying I agree with your general point: newspapers are crucial to do important investigative journalism work.

That said, Reuters does do solid investigative journalism work. One example is the Taser scandal recently: https://gijn.org/2017/10/02/how-they-did-it-reuters-massive-... They also have opinion pieces, and long form pieces, although these aren't seen as much as their standard articles.

AP also does some investigative work. For example, "Americans buying salmon for dinner at Walmart or ALDI may inadvertently have subsidized the North Korean government as it builds its nuclear weapons program, an AP investigation has found" https://www.apnews.com/8b493b7df6e147e98d19f3abb5ca090a

Indeed! You’re right, and my third paragraph was wrong


> NYT would only break a story on Franken if they knew it was about to be widely circulated. As a crusading progressive who also has quirks and wit, he was their archetype, they surely agonized over taking him down even with the current #MeToo zeitgeist.

That's quite impressive wild conjecture.

Careful like doing fact checking and confronting Jimmy O'Keefe about his trying to plant fake new stories?

Gutsy to troll in the same thread you posted that people only come to HN to "deliberately quarrel".

Does anyone besides partisan Democrats really care about Trump possibly having ties to Russians?

The real news has already been broken by WikiLeaks (they are all spying on us) and TheIntercept.

That last site, produces more in-depth investigative reporting than any of the government mouthpieces you have cited.

The only news that is important is news that is hostile to the government on which it is reporting.

The rest is just propaganda.

> Does anyone besides partisan Democrats really care about Trump possibly having ties to Russians?

Literally anyone who cares more about the US, or their own country, more than they do about pushing an ultraconservative agenda. I get not believing the story, or believing it wasn't really that severe. But to just not care?

> The real news has already been broken by WikiLeaks (they are all spying on us) and TheIntercept.

Wikileaks has been exposed as partisan hacks at this point.

how can WaPo and NYT be government mouth pieces when the government is controlled by republicans.

<quote> 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. </quote>

There is no such things as neutral news. But you can strive for some good, honest reporting with high journalistic standards.

>There is no such things as neutral news.

That's a big statement, can you elaborate?

Surely there can be objective reporting on events. So do you mean that filtration that a news organization must perform (i.e. it's impossible to report on every event) will have some bias?

Every algorithm for promoting certain articles over others favors some groups over others. Even if you evaluate on neutral grounds, you're still favoring the groups that are in fact able to get you to consider things as news (eg, news wire services, active contributors, etc).

>Every algorithm for promoting certain articles over others favors some groups over others.

You could present articles in chronological order.

>you're still favoring the groups that are in fact able to get you to consider things as news

Yeah, that's essentially what I was saying.

Let me elaborate and be more concrete. Suppose a special interest group - say, Comcast's PR team - wants your organization to consider their press release as "news". Either you accept their claim of newsworthiness and have more of a "for" slant, or reject or modify their claim and have more of an "anti" slant.

Or another example: the website itself is far easier to contribute to with stable electrical supply, broadband internet access, and an ample supply of free time. You can bet that the news is going to be more relevant to white-collar first-world educated folks than subsistence farmers in rural India. I mean, yeah, Indian subsistence farmers could contribute in principle, but in practice, you're going to get a lot of news suggestions from other folks, and those suggestions are going to wind up as news articles.

You just put together the clearest examples I've seen for illustrating this point. When it need to make it from now on, I'm linking to this comment :)

Your first paragraph is, again, essentially what I initially stated.

Your second paragraph is a separate, and good, point.

Seeing how poorly Wikipedia succeeds at neutrality much of the time, I don't have much hope this project will do any better.

What are you benchmarking against?

As compared to what you'll read in published books on the shelf (which seem to write whatever they feel like) or even mainstream media or even the average professor, I think wikipedia does an outstanding job.

You can't create what can't exist. Neutrality at best is just presenting as many different (credible) views as possible, but usually contains a "straw man" or two.

As Wikipedia defines it, anyway, neutrality is biased towards the current scientific consensus, which cuts down on the fringe content and makes the supporters of things like homeopathy very, very angry: They think neutrality should mean "every position gets taken equally seriously", which is false balance, and go a bit berserk when Wikipedia's rules make the homeopathy article largely anti-homeopathy, by presenting the best current knowledge as fact and presenting homeopathy itself as discredited.

There's no way to have a coherent, readable article which is philosophically neutral. Good thing Wikipedia doesn't try.

This is a very important point. The problem with satisfying people's desires for neutrality is that people have incompatible, often incoherent ideas about what neutrality is supposed to be.

Naturally, some people don't like Wikipedia's version of neutrality, though I happen to think it's quite a good one: neutral in its reflection of what reliable sources say, not substantively neutral on subject matter. So I'm not particularly troubled by the problem as it pertains to WikiTribune.

The fact that some people don't like their notion of neutrality isn't a problem with them in particular, so much as an inevitability that reflects the way people with incompatible opinions will react to any possible version of neutrality. So the question should be which among the notions of neutrality that will inevitably anger some people is the most preferable.

By neutral he means aligned with his own biases.

This is a really interesting project. I've wondered for some time why this hadn't already been done. The obvious problem is politics though. We love to talk about it, but it makes people goofy. And it's trivial to lie to people, through implication, without ever making a single false statement. For instance:

- "Uber does not require drivers to pass any sort of driving examination. Uber vehicles are involved in hundreds of more crashes per year than [insert any domestic cab company.]"

Both statements are completely honest and true. But the unstated implication is 100% a lie. The lack of context is everything. Uber fulfills 40 million rides a month - that's 480 million a year. If we assume an average trip length of 5 miles, that's 2.4 billion miles a year. That's orders of magnitude greater than any cab company and so without comparing rates of incidence, I've effectively created fake news without ever directly making a single false statement. This is something that regular mainstream media outlets regularly do today. In fact you can find numerous articles using this exact same intentionally broken logic on this exact issue, at various media outlets. It makes for nice scary headlines and thus gets those clicks.

I think the question to be seen is whether 'WikiTribune' editors will step above this - and actually require news be true both in content and implication. Just because something isn't directly stated doesn't mean articles suggesting as much are any less culpable of deceit. If they're able to do this, this could be as revolutionary as Wikipedia was.

This is the main reason why I like the idea of a wiki-based news source. That "simple" assertion can be clarified by future editors in exactly that manner, and traditional news sources cannot be.

Already Wikipedia is excellent in many ways for exactly this -- during the Catalonia independence event, Wikipedia had way deeper context about the situation than other news sources, including information about previous attempts at independence and other historical information that was relevant in contextualizing the events.

That said, I'm not sure that this is a feasible vision. Especially since this seems to be producing more long-form journalism rather than current-event based journalism. The line is obviously a bit blurry, but "Big Read: How fact checking evolved in the internet era" is journalism, for sure, but not really the kind of thing that benefits from a wiki approach. "Why Rohingya are world’s ‘most-persecuted minority’" is a lot closer, but the article itself is not aimed at a single continuous entry point for an ongoing event, but instead attempts to provide a single viewpoint into the situation.

I've often wondered if that's intentional or not, people seem to have real difficulty with comparing things if it's any more complicated than X being bigger than Y.

fivethirtyeight.com seem to have a policy of getting numbers correct rather than chasing a story which seems to help.

Another good thing is experts that comment on news stories, to place their numbers in context e.g. the NHS in the news service, that covers all the details and is happy to concede that "we don't know" rather than always wrap things up neatly.


Articles shouldn't be "finished". Users should be able to annotate them (using Hypothes.is?) which can provide more context that authors might have missed.

The most important question is the algorithm to determine what is important - since anyone can participate in WikiTribune at any level, it must be an algorithm that sets what is important. Most algorithms for this are subject to both political bias and "surprise" bias (how surprising an event is, even if it's not important in the grand scheme of things).

An interesting take on a very difficult task...


Something we all would like to work - but I'm not sure it's easily possible to be neutral.

From parent's link:

> There is no such thing as an objective highlight.

So by that logic, all documentation of anything is subjective, since it necessarily omits some details that someone, somewhere might consider relevant. That seems like a bottomless rabbit-hole and a means of avoiding debate. Are there any better standards for evaluating bias instead?

arguably, neutrality is an impossible task. where there is any editing or selection involved (be it by a person, or by an algorithm), neutrality disappears.

Reaching the speed of light is also technically impossible, that doesn't mean you stop trying.

Being eternally vigilant aware of your bias and actively working to counteract it, rather than blithely pretending your policies prevent it, is the way to go. This requires merciless introspection and constant self-reevaluation, so it's no wonder that most organizations don't bother. Few are that self-aware.

That said, I don't have high hopes for this. Wikipedia's insistence that only academia and mainstream media coverage are sufficient sources for articles all but ensure a predictable bias on any ideologically charged topic.

Same people, same kinda project, same biases. They've not stated any reason why this will be different.

You ask your readers to believe that academia, the mainstream media and Wikipedia all have the same bias. An alternative hypothesis is that A) all three have albeit imperfect self correction mechanisms and are on average as close to reflecting reality as any human enterprises have ever come, and B) it is not their bias but rather yours that is responsible for your claim. At the very least it seems disingenuous to abstain from naming the bias you claim all three have.

I think we have the stats to show that your A) is false, if nothing else.

Consider the fact that in the social sciences, about 18 percent of American professors are communists, and about 5 percent are conservatives[1].

In general, conservatives are outnumbered as faculty about 12 to 1 by liberals [2].

In order for these numbers to be "as close to reflecting reality as any human enterprises have ever come", we would expect America to have 12 liberal voters for each conservative, and the Democratic Socialists of America to be the second most powerful political party, while the republicans would struggle to maintain a distant third place.

I won't label you with titles like 'biased' or 'disingenuous' however, because I find that rude and counterproductive to finding the truth.

[1] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

[2] https://econjwatch.org/articles/faculty-voter-registration-i...

(Apologies if you're joking, but you don't appear to be. Hmm but I'm not sure.)

"Consider the fact that in the social sciences, about 18 percent of American professors are communists.." - whoaaa! hehe. Well, that was the most remarkable start to a sentence I've experienced on HN.

Allow me to stop there, and examine for a moment how much of a fact that is. Well, more than a moment - I couldn't access "The social and political views of American professors" (2007) on that link, and it's 76pp long. It reports a 2006 survey. I think your "about 18 percent of American [social science] professors are communists" refers to pp40-1 :

"Before moving on to consider the substantive attitudes items, we consider three other political identities that professors may hold that would indicate something about their political views: whether they think of themselves as radicals, political activists, and Marxists. We queried respondents on these matters by presenting them with a series of labels - including "radical," "political activist," and "Marxist" - and asking them to indicate how well, on a seven point scale ranging from not at all to extremely well, the labels described them. ...Table 12 shows the percentage of respondents in each broad disciplinary grouping who said these terms described them at least moderately well (giving a score of 4 or higher).."

There's a figure of 17.6% given in the table for professors in the "Social sciences" + "Marxist category".

So, in a 2006 survey, 17.6% of social science professors said "Marxist" described them moderately well, extremely well, or somewhere in between.

I'll leave it there for now, just remarking that it strikes me as rather ironic that the "fact" you asked us to consider came as part of an argument purporting to show someone else's stats were false. I'm not sure of the technical term for what you were doing in your last sentence, but it wasn't pretty either.

Edit: I thought my comment was as usual tangential at best to the main story, but on second thoughts maybe this was a small journalistic investigation of exactly the kind hoped for? :-)

My claim A is that academia/media/wikipedia are the best tools we have for arriving at what will be seen as the truth by the most people for the longest time into the future. You claim that A is false because the three are more likely to be influenced by persons who self identify as left leaning. Never mind that what is considered left and right has changed through history and varies around the world at the present. Never mind that liberals are anything but monolithic in their views and there is as much enmity between liberals as there is between liberals and conservatives. What I find rude is the implication that 'left' institutions can't be useful authorities because they are 'left'. Why is conservapedia utterly eclipsed by wikipedia? Because wikipedia's self correcting mechanisms on the whole work pretty well and produce something that most people find useful (cf Dawkins https://www.theverge.com/2013/4/2/4173576/richard-dawkins-on...)

>You claim that A is false because the three are more likely to be influenced by persons who self identify as left leaning.

I think we misunderstand each other. I claimed that A was false because I took "are on average as close to reflecting reality as any human enterprises have ever come" to mean it reflects the reality of the body of individuals, which I guess both of us agree is not the case. I don't think we really disagree on that much then.

For fun though, I'd like to point out that this applies to conservatives, too: "Never mind that liberals are anything but monolithic in their views and there is as much enmity between liberals as there is between liberals and conservatives."

And also conservapedia is a failure because A) Shaffly is an authoritarian nutcase and B) vandals outnumbered serious posters 2:1 easily, since it's inception. I know this because I was one of those vandals back in my script kiddie 4chan days. They would sometimes just have to revert entire days worth of edits because for every 'good faith' edit there were a dozen there were less so, and often the difference is subtle, especially since you could invoke religious craziness at will on conservapedia.

Let's unpack this:

* Academia does have a left leaning bias.



(and others - I can find very little that actually challenges the belief)

* The mainstream media has a left-leaning, status quo, (and as used in Wikipedia) American bias



Given that Wikipedia has, as enforced policy, that mainstream media and academic sources trump all else, it logically must share the same bias as its sources.

This is even acknowledged:




It's not like I'm making some accusation of conspiracy or malfeasance here, so there's no need to interpret it as an attack. This is simply the way the site and its user base operates given its current policies.

If the media is getting something wrong, Wikipedia will necessarily get it wrong. If the Academic community is getting something wrong, Wikipedia will necessarily get it wrong. The reason I speak of these disparate groups as wholes is that, on Wikipedia, consensus determines what an article says, what gets relegated to a "criticism" section, and what can't be said at all. (Arguably, the biases of the editors will win over the actual state of the sources, but this is just my read on the policy)

This is one of the downsides of acting as a tertiary source alone: you're only as good as your secondaries and primaries

I then extend this inference out to this new project. It has the same people at the helm, will likely attract the same group of editors, and so it will share the same problems as Wikipedia proper.

A small point.. What is called "left-leaning" in the U.S. looks right-leaning to most of the world. [source?] Supporting one (the less far-right one) of the two main business parties gets you called "left-leaning". Supporting health care apparently gets you called a communist! That seemed everyday opinion in the U.S. - it seemed absolute appalling idiocy to the world looking on. Up there with "freedom fries" etc. "The centre" I guess then falls somewhere halfway between a primetime news anchor and their right wing thinktank guest.

I am interested to see where we go with ai/algorithmic approaches to news though... the bias brought here will be interesting to see.

Aren't algorithms the primary paradigm for news as disseminated through Twitter and Facebook?

Apart from the many insightful comments here:

I open up Wikitribune, and the very headline story is "Current Affairs: Trump retweets trigger storm with UK".

Exactly the kind of click grabbing, contentless "news" crap I do not want to read, and don't consider "hight quality news".

Another weird fail point: their entire discussion on their "Real names policy" ( https://www.wikitribune.com/project/real-names-policy-a-note... ) is being conducted by people who have already been vetted by the system; unclear if people who insist on pseudonyms are being let in, and thus whether their voice is even heard.

Furthermore, the system mandates that you have a First and a Last name. Gonna be a problem for the people who only have one....

You'd think an entity as large as they are would understand the complexities around names. It always seems to prudent to re-read http://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-b... when something like this happens.

I'd love to see a browser extension that allows this community to mark up existing news websites with other resources/arguments against. Similar to Rap Genius Web Annotator https://genius.com/web-annotator

There's a Web Annotation Protocol which has been formalized by the W3c but nobody seems to be deploying it.

I wonder what's going to happen to wikinews: https://wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page

Nothing's happened since about 2006, so ...

This is actually the great fear about WikiTribune: that it'll end up like Wikinews - nice launch, then drop to near no activity, point or interest. (I was along for the WikiTribune hack day in February, this is one of the things that was discussed at length.)

In my experience, contributing to Wikinews was a daily grind compared to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia was a chance to craft something long lasting over a period of time. Wikinews involved a similar amount of effort per article but invariably the item was largely irrelevant a day or two after it was written. It was hard to keep the news current.

Out of curiosity, do you know if the group has any specific ideas in this regard and what they are?

Basically the perception was that Wikinews was bogged down in process. So we came up with a simple obvious process on the spot.

Then I looked up the Wikinews process ... and it was about the same. So clearly that wasn't the problem.

The difference with WikiTribune is that there are paid journalists. This will I think help.

Thanks for the reply. Paid journalists make sense, in that they can probably produce words faster than an amateur. I hope it's a success.

also, a lot of the discouraging factor at Wikinews was that the editors were slow to review stuff, and WikiTribune has paid editors as well.

It will get killed by him (isn't Jim involved in both Wikipedia AND Wikia), just like Wikia meant the end of the "trivia" sections that were very popular on Wikipedia and featured on most articles up to the release of Wikia, then they got transferred over and banned from Wikipedia.

Jimmy actually lacks that specific authority. His control is limited to blocking users and removing rights from users [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Role_of_Jimmy_Wales#...

Jimmy Wales used to have more authority. It was stripped from him by the community after he repeatedly abused it. However, despite this he still has the technical ability to not just remove arbitrary permissions from any user on any project but to grant them too, including to himself. (This is, in fact, mentioned in the link you posted - you must just have missed that part.)

What is the difference to Wikinews in the first place?

Wasn't a similar question asked by the maintainers of Nupedia when Jimmy Wales launched Wikipedia as an unexpected side project?

From Wikipedia [0]:

> Unlike Wikipedia, Nupedia was not a wiki; it was instead characterized by an extensive peer-review process, designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. Nupedia wanted scholars (ideally with PhDs) to volunteer content.

I'm afraid that doesn't tell us the difference between Wikinews and WikiTribune.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nupedia

I read your comment as "What's the difference to Wikinews", which is literally what you wrote, but you may have meant "with" which means my response was not directly relevant. WT ostensibly has made some changes/refinements -- which have tradeoffs that might be seen as undesirable to entrenched conventions at WN -- but it does seem that, on paper, WT and WN have the same fundamentals, i.e. what makes a Wiki what it is. And the content may not be substantively different either -- in fact, they could be mirrors of each other.

But my argument is that if WT's differences -- even if they are seemingly superficial like visual design and polish -- are enough to give WT even a veneer of authority and user-friendliness over WT, then the lack of fundamental differences is mostly besides the point. WT is a direct competitor to WN, few users are going to want to spend time/loyalty to both sites. And unlike Wikipedia, which has huge long-tail value, writing for a news site with a comparatively small audience would be a bit demoralizing when you could be writing for the much bigger competitor, especially if the pay (zero dollars) is exactly the same.

So the difference to WN is that if WT becomes more popular -- which it could just by Jimmy Wales continuing to be its salesman -- WN might become quickly lose its audience and purpose for existence.

Everyone is talking about WikiTribune here as if they are certain what it is, but the article really hasn't answered any of the biggest questions (how it is determined which articles are given precedence over less important ones, how easy it will be to edit an article, whether users will be investigating actively or compiling information from other sources, etc).

_It might be totally different from what any of us are envisioning at this point._

The trouble is, it's another news-recycling and aggregation site. We have too many of those now. Too many pundits. Not enough reporters on the street, or at least on the phone, out there collecting information.

(Too many of the people who do have new information online are all about me, Me, Me!. News stories do not use "I".)

> We’re using WordPress as the core of our launch platform

I guess it makes sense to stay with PHP and reuse your infrastructure knowledge. Still, I believe Wikipedia is successful despite not because of the WikiMedia software. Wordpress is not exactly the hallmark of software engineering either.

Keep in mind that they're trying to build a news source, not a platform for news sources.

Choosing a stable, battle-tested platform is important for that scenario.

There are a number of newspapers that use WordPress as their platform. This choice makes sense, from a mission standpoint.

WordPress is battle tested in the same way the Pearl harbor was.

Name the second largest attack on Pearl Harbor

Michael Bay.

Who cares about what is running this project. What matters is that it fits the purpose. And if that is Wordpress at this point in time, fine. I would read a news site written in Cobol if the content is more unbiased and balanced than anything else.

I think the point they were trying to make is that the people who live in the house don't care that the nails are all hammered in with a screwdriver, but the people building it should.

When you are asking users for donations as frequently as Wikipedia does, engineering quality is very important. With better software comes lower resource usage, which means cheaper infrastructure, resulting in lower costs.

Your base assumption then is that a measurable percentage of users could be put off because of the technology stack the platform is using?

It’s not, but PHP is still by far the best option for low cost hosting, low traffic hosting.

At any level above shared hosting it really doesn't matter whether you use PHP or any other popular web stack since you will have to manage the whole thing anyway.

There are cheap shared hosting services that provide other options.

WordPress has been re-written in a Node stack


That is just an admin console which communicates with Wordpress via its API, the Wordpress core has not been rewritten.

That's a dashboard for managing Wordpress sites, not a rewrite of WordPress (nor is a rewrite like that planned)

Wordpress.com is something different than the Open Source Wordpress(.org) that is installed on one's server.

I can see real potential here. I think one of the biggest problems today is news presented from a given perspective that is insensitive to other perpectives. What I mean by this is cases where people who have another perspective perceive the news story as being factual inaccurate. In the US, this results in two groups who both think the other group is unintelligent and crazy. And it results in the two sides isolating themselves. There is no common ground from which to talk. I am hoping there is a way to get around this.

Another commenter made the point that people don't percieve unbiased news as unbiased. They usually perceive news that agrees with there opinion as unbaised. So it is not enough to simply be unbiased. You have to be percieved as unbiased by the different sides.

I think this may be possible in a setting like wikitribune, if respected people from the different sides work together on a story (I'm allowing for limiting the contributors). When this happens they are forced to speak a language the other side can understand. And I think the general public, or at least some bi/multi partison segment of it, will believe in it, because it is coming in part from voices they respect.

I'm not sure if this exactly how they plan on operating, but this is what I am hoping for.

Similar to something I've been brainstorming, but with one key difference.

A pillar of my hypothetical crowd-sourced news platform is anonymity. Emphasis of trust is placed on the computed reputation of the poster, who may choose to be nameless or use a pen name for each post.

With WikiTribune, trust is established by linking the name of the author to their identity, which can allow the reader to judge character and fall into an appeal to authority bias.

I think these things might ultimately be bad for journalism in the world we currently live in. Sensitive topics need to be handled anonymously to avoid harassment, and the Wikitribune policy of "whitelisting" pseudonyms will turn away people who don't want to rock the boat where they can. Additionally, it allows people to become victims or beneficiaries of identity politics.

We shouldn't judge the merit of a contributer by their real world identity, but by the quality of their contributions. This can, along with a gatekeeping system that prevents high-interest topics from being edited by a user who lacks sufficient rep, allow for a healthy news community to flourish, without the need for putting a target on the backs of every amateur journalist who wants to talk about what dangerous people are doing and not just run of the mill politics.

I would rather contribute to a community headed by the legendary Jimmy Wales than start my own community, so I will approach him with my concerns to see if he can't see things my way.

How do others feel about this trade-off in trust?

Interesting idea, if poorly defined at the moment. I wonder how editorial control will work out. Wikipedia has a lot of well documented problems that they’ll get a second chance to avoid.

Yes, it's hard enough to trust Wikipedia on any subject with ideological or political drama surrounding it.

Rather than a sharp distinction between trusted users and everyone else, or content and non-content, or even between reading and writing, I believe what we need is the more quantum experience of a knowledge graph. One with an easy semantics for creating and navigating nested relationships. It would let users search for, say, "Statements about [topic] which [set of users] agrees on," or "Arguments against [hypothesis]," or "Examples of, stories about, and implications of [principle]", or "Statements which readers judged useful for [goal]."

I wrote a demonstration program[1] that does this. I hope to attract more developers.

[1] https://github.com/JeffreyBenjaminBrown/digraphs-with-text

If this is of interest, then you might also find Civil to be an interesting approach to this problem. They're attempting to decentralize the news and create marketplaces that drive the right behavior.


The Civil project looks more feasible, as it actually pays investigative journalists for their work, while at the same time providing feedback/scoring for accuracy.


I don't get it's point at least as yet. Wikipedia works because there wasn't a free sober extensive alternative available.. there are billions of way to get news and authentic ones too. I don't see the point as yet. The blogging tried to revolutionize the citizen journalism.. but it's tiresome with little to none rewards. Comparing it to Wikipedia is comparing Apples to Oranges ..

This sounds a lot like what Newsvine was in 2006, albeit with a different focus on how that news is generated?


I'll be interested in their implementation, but it doesn't sound like it'll offer anything more than Newsvine did before they were bought out by MSNBC.

Thanks for the reminder about newsvine - I enjoyed that service back in the day. I found a recent blog post by the founder: https://mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2017/10/an-epitaph-f...

If only there was a news source devoid of punditry and slant. But that seems to be the only thing that sells anymore. And sadly, upon looking into their Chronological Stories page, there are already several "Let me tell you why" articles, and articles ending with the ever-transparent "here comes an op-ed" question mark.

"Anymore?" Why do people think the reporting of yesterday was any less biased than that of today when there's plenty of evidence to the contrary?

It will be a hard road to walk, but if something like this can be pulled off in the way that Wales envisions, it could be a great resource.

My major concern is how you prevent a motivated entity willing to throw resources at skewing certain types of stories a certain way, from outweighing the larger, but more apathetic with group of general contributors.

I assume 50% of its news won't be about Trump?

I'd like to see journalistic projects that cover stuff that isn't covered by mainstream media, yet it's equally, or perhaps much more important. The mainstream media seems to mainly focus on whatever brings them most page views. And it often has a skin-deep understanding of the issues they cover, which often leads them to draw the wrong conclusions, too.

A good start, but certainly not the only place to explore, would be the war in Yemen, the drone strike operations in the Middle East or any other operation the U.S. or other countries do "illegally", without informing their populace, the Saudi Arabia influence on the western world, stuff like that for which there is almost an unwritten rule that the mainstream media can't cover.

I think it would be interesting if it were a meta news-source. Cover the connections between journalists and the world - who they vote for, who they are married to, whether they often have corrections on their stories, their blunders, their awards. What topics they cover, whether they are positive or negative toward certain ideas, who owns which news sources, etc.

I have "trump" as a blocked word in my Twitter feed but would also concede that he requires a disproportionately sized slice of the daily news pie

I tried to read aljazeera.com, but soon dropped it. Most stuff is not relevant to me.

I'll have some more RSS feeds to add

Eg: https://www.wikitribune.com/category/current-affairs/feed/?p...

Interested to see what emerges from this experiment. Will the wisdom of the crowds prevail or will it be the interests of a select few? It would be great to have a 'believability' weighting whereby the votes of more credible people count for more. Not a democratic solution but in fields where one has more knowledge it makes sense to defer to them - much like you would weight the opinion of a doctor more heavily than your barber for a health related issue. Now we only need to figure out who the credible people are...

Wouldn't this just use the same citation rules as Wikipedia? News sources deemed "authoritative" based on popularity or reputation? I've seen a lot of evidence later called "non-existent" or "fake" by these sources that I could previously trace before it was removed by the uploader or banned by an admin, even if it was archived and screenshotted.

What will be the copyright license of the content? Does it follow the same model as Wikipedia or is it a for-profit / proprietary venture?

> 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.

That sentence is something of a grammatical bus crash. What is he trying to say? Honest question. I'm interested, and don't understand.

offtopic: I really enjoyed the page on writing news articles.


So basically people will read news from other sites and repost them to Wikitribune?

I guess this will mean the dead to WikiNews (https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page ) of Wikipedia. The history showed us...

Jim has the power to remove things of Wikipedia and turn it t his own startup for profit.

Remember the trivia sections in almost all a Wikipedia articles. Suddenly one day, Jim launched Wikia and in the same swoosh trivia sections got transferred over to Wikia and banned on Wikipedia. Including many articles about movie characters got removed from Wikipedia.

We have to thank him for the initial Wikipedia, and for the short stint of Wikia Web search (the he unfortunately killed after a short while). But he should not be involved with Wikipedia anymore, in case he is still lurking around.

If they want people to help, couldn't they put the code on Github or something?

And, as other people have said, this is essentially a re-launch of Wikinews.

Is it just me or does this look a lot like Medium?

I have been telling people we need a news source that treats information like wikipedia. I hope this goes somewhere.

Their first task should be a tutorial on "What journalism is." followed by "What are facts."

So, a new Infobitt?

Infobitt had a more radical strategy - to strip the news down into individual facts and then reconstruct articles from them. The problem was that the site used crowdsourcing, which is too slow a process to use for news - a problem Wikitribune will also come up against.

How will they do investigative pieces?

Ah, another website for Turkey to "block".

Truth hurts


No ads! This website is already a winner!

> 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.

I really hope this idea takes off. The majority of people are itching for non-biased news. mainstream journalism has become 10% facts, and 90% opinions. Both sides just want to push their agenda

> 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.

We've seen how well that works with Wikipedia. This is only solvable by presenting a filtered view for each user. The Wikipedia principals have no skills nor an interest to produce such infrastructure.

> the ultimate arbiters of the truth are the facts of reality.

This is, relative to what?

Some possibilities:

- relative to your geography - your personal biases - your priorities - relative to 'what you do not know what you do not know'

We may not like to see it this way, but facts if reality are also relative. Just span things across longer period of time and you'll see.

And yet people can read your post and see what you mean to convey.

That things are eventually slippery doesn't undermine our ability to come closer to the truth of a given moment.

The top commenters are pretty much saying exactly, what I said in different words. If nothing else, Wikipedia is on a slippery-slope here.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact