As far as I'm concerned, The Open Globe is a feeble attempt at oneupmanship started by a disenfranchised editor who didn't get his own way, and didn't like how things were run. What they do is their business now - I wish them no ill will, I just hope they realise that instead of forking they'd have been better helping us reform instead of going off in a huff.
—Anonymous Wikinews editor
To see OG fork from Wikinews is sad, we've lost some good editors who've gone, we've lost friends, and most of all, I can feel an air of resentment amongst the community the likes of which I've never seen before. It's a loss for both of us, I feel - there's no mutual support there now.
—An anonymous Wikinews editor
I would think that Wikinews has simply never produced enough critical mass of any one genre, sufficient to create and maintain a large readership that wants that genre.
I, and many other Wikinewsies, don't bear any ill-will towards the forkers, and I firmly believe that Wikinews can learn a lot from the OpenGlobe project. I understand their motivations and wish them the best of luck, and I hope a mutually-beneficial arrangement between the two communities can be found in the future.
As reported briefly in last week's edition of The Signpost, several editors from the English Wikinews have forked the project and created a new site, OpenGlobe. Wikinews, a sister project to Wikipedia, was established in 2004 and is run by the Wikimedia Foundation. OpenGlobe, which launched last week, shares both Wikinews' format (a wiki) and like Wikinews focuses on creating freely licensed and neutral news collaboratively. It is not, however, under either the technical or administrative supervision of the WMF.
In order to achieve its operational independence, the OpenGlobe website will be hosted by wiki-based site group TechEssentials. Both OpenGlobe and Wikinews use the MediaWiki software and the format is very similar, although the OpenGlobe project plans on some major changes; its editors feel that it will find making such changes much easier now they can avoid the formalities of Wikimedia's own feature request system. Unlike Wikinews, OpenGlobe has only one language version (English), although this may change in the future. Both sites are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; but whilst they could share stories, OpenGlobe and Wikinews are currently generating separate content and look set to do so for some time.
The English Wikinews had less than two dozen highly active users before the schism. Of these, OpenGlobe has attracted several long-time Wikinews contributors, who cite disputes with other editors and a lack of technical support as issues. According to the OpenGlobe founder, User:Tempodivalse, "at least nine users have pledged to support this fork". Both projects are inviting users to contribute to their content.
Several threads on foundation-l and other Wikimedia mailing lists discuss the fork. It has also raised issues regarding the technical support that the Wikimedia Foundation provides for its smaller projects. (Further discussion on this can be found in this week's "Technology report".)
The Signpost spoke with the OpenGlobe's founder, Tempodivalse.
Why did you start the OpenGlobe?
OpenGlobe was created mainly due to frustration with perceived rudeness/hostility among Wikinewsies and the project's writing structure. I think it has become strangled by bureaucracy, making it very hard to write an article and have it approved. Stories have to go through very rigorous checks for verifiability and copyright before they can be published, and even a small error can result in denial of publication.
This process takes a long time, meaning that by the time the articles go "live", they are several days old and are of questionable newsworthiness. In many cases, articles have to be deleted before publication because they are simply not "recent" anymore.
How did you gather support and set the project up?
I and fellow Wikimedian User:the_wub first threw around the idea of a fork a few weeks ago. I was intrigued, and shared our ideas with several other Wikinewsies who I knew weren't happy with the Wikinews status quo. Everyone I talked to was supportive, and we quickly found someone who was willing to host a wiki for us (the staff at TechEssentials). Everything fell into place from there. Once the project went online, more users gradually got involved.
Current homepage of the OpenGlobe
What is the project's relationship with Wikinews?
I feel it's slightly strained, although I hope we can coexist amicably. Reaction among Wikinews editors to the fork was mixed: some are interested to see where OG goes, but many are critical, suggesting the project would become unreliable and fail, because it doesn't intend to follow Wikinews' bureaucratic review process. In my view, the main disagreement is that we wanted a new, fresh approach that Wikinews editors were unwilling to try.
What is different about OpenGlobe and Wikinews?
Primarily, OpenGlobe will have a more lax publication policy. Instead of requiring very detailed checks to every article before it goes "live", we'll probably have only rudimentary checks for glaring errors and neutrality. The idea is that editors will continue to make corrections and improvements later, as they see them. This is a more community-oriented and wiki-like approach, I feel. OG also plans to foster a more welcoming and helpful atmosphere to newcomers. (There are other differences, but these are the most important ones.)
What will be happening with OpenGlobe in the future?
We're still in the early stages of development, so I don't exactly know what direction things will take. We want to expand our userbase and readership, using social media like Facebook and Twitter to get the news out. I'm hoping we become a news source that people can go to for comprehensive, reliable, open-source, and unbiased information.
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