This last Thursday’s session of the Summer Web Design Camp was all about what goes into creating, designing, and coding a news wiki. Daniel and Will led Lauren Rabaino, Max Cutler, Mo Jangda, Greg Linch, and myself through a discussion of how to set up and effectively deploy a news wiki.
Like last week the session started off with Daniel and Will leading us through a presentation that they put together covering examples, code, and options. The slideshow’s embedded above and is also available on Slideshare. Some of the main points that came out of the presentation were:
- Examples are hard to come by – The best source of examples are news organizations topical landing pages. While not “wikified” topical landing pages from The New York Times and The Guardian are good examples of what could be included on a page that the community has access to.
- Integration is key – For a news wiki to truly be effective it needs to be more than just a sidebar to the main news site. Information from the wiki must be integrated into the content of the “regular” site. For an example of this integration check out what Will’s doing with The Maine Campus.
- Experiment! – The field for news wikis is wide open. It can become whatever your news organization wants or needs it to be. Using a news wiki for topical landing pages, a restaurant section, or even as a way to review professors are all options that could be experimented with.
- Give the community ownership – A lot of concern over who will maintain and edit a wiki comes up when they’re discussed. One approach to this that was discussed during the session was to be upfront with your news community about what you think they can add to the wiki. Show that you value their input, knowledge, and perspective and perhaps they will in turn show an appreciation for the content on the wiki. People generally care about things that they have stake in.
- There’s many options – Creating a news wiki does not mean that you have to dive into setting up MediaWiki. There’s other options out there that have their own advantages and disadvantages. The end of Daniel and Will’s presentation covers a few of these alternative tools.
There were also a couple WordPress plugins discussed that could prove to be quite handy to those of you interested in creating a news wiki for your news organization. Will mentioned the WP mobile edition as a way to create a mobile version of your site that won’t cause long page load times.
Also discussed was the Automatic Tag Link plugin which will automate the process of linking to tag pages. If you’re using tags as topical landing pages with a wiki this could be a good way to drive traffic to them and promote them.
We’ll be taking a break from the design camp sessions this week so that everyone can enjoy the 4th of July weekend and we’ll resume sessions on July 9th. The working plan for that session is to cover designing featured pages like how the Amherst Wire covered the Economic Stimulus. If you’re interested in participating stay tuned to this space or send us an email.