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([1]) in English and German was officially launched in December 2004, followed by the Dutch version in January 2005. For the first time for a new Wikimedia project, it has gone through brainstorming, multilingual community-wide voting, and the approval of the Board of Trustees. Erik Moeller (aka Eloquence) spearheaded the drafting of a proposal to organize the vote, in addition to laying out the basic site structure and workflow. Even though it started as a demo version, bloggers, slashdot.org and mainstream media outlets have taken notice.

The biggest question probably was whether the success of Wikipedia could be replicated for news production. Many of the experienced Wikimedians worried that biased news, incompatible with our policy of neutral point of view, might be released in the much shorter cycle of work that is news production. Conclusive answers to these questions have not yet been discovered, although we have seen significant progress on the project.

Wikinews has now entered the "beta" phase. It is still in its formation phase but its existence as a Wikimedia project is now generally accepted. Erik wrote an essay reflecting on the project's past and future, and pointed out that the formal review process is being reconsidered and redesigned leading to a simpler, free-flowing mechanism. There is tension between making the site more newcomer-friendly by simplifying rules and procedures, sticking to the wiki principle of "anyone can make any edit", and imposing quality assurance measures - a formal review process with a specific set of rules to follow. Publication of unreviewed and incomplete stories on the main page has likewise been discussed. Some active users, including IlyaHaykinson, TalkHard, and Lyellin, have written at length on the topic.

Considering that around half of the new contributions are written in the area of politics and conflicts, it is quite normal to worry about bias and accuracy. Some think that we should emphasize in-depth coverage like that of weekly news publication rather than breaking news, and spend more time on quality control. Calrosar, one of the many active participants on Wikinews and a participant in many discussions of article neutrality, observes that Wikinews is getting better and producing positive results. Nevertheless, the project faces great challenges. Many have said that creating a truly free, open and neutral news source would be more difficult than even the creation of a free encyclopedia. We welcome all editors on other Wikimedia projects to come by, participate in discussions, write articles, and help build the communities that we have already started.

URLs: Wikinews insiders' views

  • Erik's essay: [2]
  • IlyaHaykinson: [3]
  • TalkHard: [4]
  • Lyellin: [5]
  • Carlosar: [6] and other sections on the page.

Media and slashdot

  • Wired News Wikipedia Creators Move Into News by Joanna Glasner, November 29, 2004. [7]
  • TechNewsWorld Open-Source News? Wiki Builds a New Kind of Journalism by John P. Mello Jr., November 30, 2004. [8]
  • Slashdot: [9]

Approximately 2,000 pages and 150-200 articles. 150 categories. 800+ registered users, 8000- edits.