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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Readers first

...is not an attitude that always seems to be widely held at Wikinews.

If we do not put our readers first and foremost, and provide them with the best possible experience (and, obviously and of utmost importance, lots of quality content), what's the point?

Some seem to view Wikinews as some sort of technology playground rather than an attempt to improve upon the mainstream media and provide free content. The whole Portal: namespace issue is just such a thing: a few people have an overwhelming, all-consuming desire to prefix region and topic page titles with "Portal:". They have their justifications, I have my doubts. Note the fundemental difference in approaches - my concerns are purely with how it would effect readers, while the proponents are concerned with vague concepts which may only be of interest to editors - if anyone at all, in fact.

Some of this is down to the mind-set of the proponents, particulary the teenagers. It's manifested not just here but in failures such as the "Wikinews Network". D.P. Smith wrote an excellent mail on this subject, which was very insightful, and well worth reading in full. In particulary though, to quote:

"A common characteristic of that age is a total inability to let
things go and not sweat the small stuff. Every tiny rejection is
fought tooth and nail, not for personal reasons of course, but
because of The Principle Of The Thing."

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I think you're being a bit unfair, but it's your blog :) I'm a convert to portals, as you know. and I really think they will improve the experience for readers. They are already becoming lively places where people can come together on a common interest or region. We have no way, without a specific name, of channelling people's enthusiasm on local reporting as a project. If this really takes off it would be unfeasible to have it all going on in article space. I also don't think you've addressed the main argument against your ease of use doubt, which is redirects and transcludes.
It's interesting that you identify younger contributors as being determined to get their way. I suppose we all were that way when we were teenagers. :-)

What is more concerning is the almost-vicious anti-establishment attitude that seems to go with it. Be it the current US administration, or the administrators of Wikinews itself, I find there to be a determination among a vocal number of contributors to prosecute their POV.
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