Wikinews: News service with collaborative reporting

WIKIPEDIA HAS proved beyond doubt that rich content can be easily generated through collaborative authoring/editing. Wikimedia Foundation, the mentor of Wikipedia, has recently launched another innovative project that aims to generate a free news source using the concept of collaborative reporting.

A drawback of the current news media is that it fails to look at many news items/issues. Also, they rake up issues and after a while just forget about it — no follow up, no further research.

This shortcoming can be attributed to several factors that include `media interests,' subject-specific approach of established media that limits the nature of its content and so on.

Rather than assigning the responsibility of public information dissemination to a minority, if we have a mechanism that provides an opportunity for each of the citizens to report news on any of the issues, it will certainly be more effective.

The new on-line news service, Wikinews (https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page), sponsored by Wikimedia (https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Home), is an attempt to implement this concept.

According to its web site, the objective of Wikinews is to "create a diverse environment where citizen journalists can independently report the news on a wide variety of current events." Here, anyone can report on any event from anywhere on the Net. Being a service developed on the Wiki model, this article can be edited/modified by anyone who reads it. So, though the service allows any person to take up the role of a reporter, he has to be ready to see his piece being mercilessly edited by others. That is, over time, the report content may undergo drastic changes.

The reporter has to make sure that his story has enough news value and reliability to withstand the scrutiny of other fellow `citizen' reporters.

It is likely that this unruly nature of the service turns out to be a recipe for its complete failure.

To save the service from getting out of control, the Wikinews developers have introduced a review process (https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Wikinews:Article_stages). The articles available on the site fall under various categories such as `Articles in Development,' `Unreviewed articles,' `Reviewed' and so on.

Wikinews may not succeed on all aspects of the news creation process.

For example, as can be seen from its site, it will be difficult for the service to provide the latest sensational news on time. However, the service may turn out to be a good model for news stories that need to be followed up further with a little bit of research/analysis.

It is likely that the review process enriches the story's content further and makes it more accurate. In this respect, Wikinews may emerge as an important news source for researchers. Anyway, we need to wait and see how this novel experiment will evolve.


management service

Compiling a bibliography and presenting it in a standard format is one of the essential skills you need if you are in academics or a writer.

To help you manage the various aspects of bibliographic list creation process with ease, several tools are available. Here, we will have a look at a simple free PHP-based bibliography management service that can be easily implemented on your desktop or on a web server with PHP/MySQL support.


Wikindx (pronounced as Wiki Index) is a bibliography management software that enables you to create bibliographies through a web-based interface. To create a bibliography, you just need to fill up the input form with several fields that include `Title of the resource,' `Type of resource' (Book, Journal Article, Newspaper/Magazine article and so on) and `Publisher Details.' Once the required information is fed to the system it will add the resource entry into your bibliographic database.

The database thus created can be retrieved in multiple ways using various search techniques; it can also be exported to different file formats that include RTF (Rich Text Format), BibTex and so on.

Another notable feature of this tool is that more than one user can be allowed to create bibliographies. Also, the system allows each user to view the bibliographies created by other users. That is, the product can be used to establish a collaborative bibliography creation infrastructure.

As already mentioned, to implement the service you need to have access to a web server with PHP/MySQL support.

If you are a Windows user who would like to implement the system on your desktop, first, set-up the server component on your machine. For this, you may use the free WAMP (Window-Apache-MySQL-PHP) server module available at: https://www.wampserver.com/en/index.php.

Once the server is configured on your system, download Wikindx archive, expand/store it on to a directory (say `wikindx') in the web server's document root. Create a database and make necessary adjustments in the configuration file as mentioned in the `Install' file that comes along with the archive. Once the set-up is ready, you can start the bibliography creation process by accessing the service using the link: https://localhost/wikindx.

If you want to test the features of Wikindx, access the service's `Test-Drive' (https://wikindx.sourceforge.net/) option.

On-line notebook

For conducting daily life efficiently, many people keep a note of important events, meetings to be attended and other tasks to be performed.

If you are a project team member, you may be keen to have a common note that can be viewed/added/edited by any of the team members. Obviously, if we keep such notes on the Net we can access them anytime, anywhere.

Those of you who want to keep such on-line notes, check out the free service, `Forty Internet' (https://www.fortyinternet.com/notebook/).

After registering with the service, you can start creating notes and sub-notes through its simple web interface.

J. Murali

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