Wikinews:For Wikipedians

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Blue check.png This page is considered a guideline on Wikinews. It is widely accepted among editors and considered a standard that all users should follow. However, it is not cast in stone, should be treated with common-sense, and occasional exceptions are expected. When editing this page, please ensure your revision is a reasonable reflection of community consensus.

When in doubt, first discuss substantive changes on the talk page.

Welcome to Wikinews, the free news source that you can write.

Wikinews: it's not Wikipedia's Current Events articles on steroids.

As a Wikipedian, you understand what a wiki is, how it works and how to edit; this page focuses on the important differences between Wikipedia and Wikinews, to help you get acquainted with how things work here. A news cycle runs considerably faster than development of an encyclopedia entry; you may have to edit more frequently to meet project standards and get published before news becomes {{stale}}.

Key differences between Wikipedia and Wikinews

  • Time sensitivity — On Wikipedia, you can go back and create an article about an event that happened last year or a hundred years ago. On Wikinews, we only care about what's news — this means no biographical or other encyclopedic content etc. If a story is more than 3 days old, it has become too old to be considered current "news" and may be marked as {{stale}}. Then, it becomes encyclopedic content rather than news, thus is more appropriate for Wikipedia.
  • Peer review before publishing — On Wikipedia, you can write an article on whatever you want and it is effectively published the second you hit the save button. On Wikinews, we require that all articles go through an independent review process before they are {{publish}}ed and go live on the main page and RSS feeds (which is enforced thanks to some of the technology we use, more on that later). Note, peer review on Wikinews serves a very different purpose than it does on Wikipedia.
  • Wikinews articles are not works in progress — Wikinews stories should be a "snapshot" of history, and reflect only information known at the time. If a story is over 24 hours old from date of publication, it should no longer be edited for content changes, but only for minor grammatical and layout corrections. All news articles will be fully-protected after they are one week old (this is called archiving, see Wikinews:Archive conventions for more information on that, and if you find an archived article that needs a correction, use {{editprotected}} on its talk page).
  • Right here, right now — On Wikipedia, articles evolve over time — in stark contrast to the time-sensitive nature of Wikinews articles, with a {{date}} template attached. The text within an article should not refer to future or recent events described therein with fully qualified dates; events should be referred to using terms such as today, yesterday, last Friday, third of this month, etc.
  • Importance of the front page — On Wikipedia, most users ignore the front page and go in search of their topic. On Wikinews, the Main Page, and the articles on it, are the focus of all current reporting. We do have extensive, valuable archives, but everything there passed through the main page when it was new. (Many readers also find current content through tools like RSS, Twitter, and Google News, which replicate the "Latest News".)
  • The exceptions that make the rules — On Wikipedia, original reporting is outlawed. Period. On Wikinews, original reporting is not only allowed, but encouraged. This allows you to carry out interviews and a variety of research for publication on Wikinews.
  • Fair use isn't quite the same — On Wikinews there is greater latitude for "fair use" images to illustrate a news article than on Wikipedia. However, Wikinews cannot accept any images originally sourced from other news sites. For example, a picture of the leader of a country at an event from the event's site, or the leader's own website, or a personal blog could be uploaded to Wikinews, but if the image were from a news site or a journalist's news blog it could not be used.
  • Wikinews and Wikipedia licenses are not the same — Wikinews and Wikipedia use different Creative Commons licenses. While content from Wikinews may be copied word-for-word to Wikipedia if proper copyright attribution is provided, the reverse is not true. This can be annoying — in the event of a notable figure's death, for example, it would be extremely useful if significant sections from that person's Wikipedia biography could be used in his or her obituary. Instead, you must rewrite Wikipedia content in your own words to avoid copyright violation issues.
  • We could keep talking about an article, or the merits of a review stating it is not ready, but this is a mostly-needless distraction from content creation. And, a stark difference between the cultures of Wikinews and Wikipedia. A week-long debate on the merits of an article, or a part therein, will see it {{stale}} and ineligible for publication under project policy. There is always a deadline; lose sight of that, and you lose the article under discussion.

How to write a Wikinews article

Content

See also: Wikinews:Content guide
  • If it's not an event, it's not news.
  • If it happened more than three days ago, it's not news. (Though relevant background might extend further back of course — but you should be able to lead with a recent development.)
  • Like Wikipedia, Wikinews also has a Neutral Point of View policy: Wikinews:Neutral point of view.
  • Wikinews does not have a Biographies of Living Persons policy; however, to comply with NPOV, unfavourable or damaging details relating to people must be clearly attributed to a source.
  • If you are relying on images from Commons that will change over time (like the spread of a disease or signatories to an international treaty) take a "snapshot" copy and reupload to Commons with a date to match the Wikinews article.

Time perspective

On Wikipedia, it's said that "there is no deadline". There isn't an explicit deadline on Wikinews either, but the aim is for articles to be published within a day or two of an event happening. (Followups would go into additional articles.) As a result, you also need to write in a "newsy" style, looking at the recent past. Wikinews articles aren't designed to be read a year afterwards: you're addressing an audience more-or-less in the present. So, for example, if an event happened today or yesterday, say exactly that: "Tropical Storm Gonu headed toward Iran today, after lashing Oman yesterday with high winds and torrential rains. The storm is expected to continue losing strength by tomorrow." (Wikinews:Style guide#Date and time).

Style

See also: Wikinews:Style guide#Basic news writing

Besides the difference in time perspective, there are other differences between writing a Wikipedia article and writing a Wikinews article. For example, the first paragraph of a Wikinews article (the lede) should try to answer the questions of who, what, where, when, why and how.

Citation

See also: Wikinews:Style guide#Citing your references
  • DON'T use inline <ref></ref> citation.
  • Instead, use the {{source}} template, at the bottom of the page, in the Sources section. It's the equivalent of Wikipedia's {{citation}}.
  • To compensate for not using inline citation, make sure you're explicitly attributing within the text. So instead of saying "X happened (footnote: according to A)", say "According to A, X happened". Don't go overboard though — just make sure it's clear where information is coming from.
  • Unlike Wikipedia's ban on original research, Wikinews permits "original reporting". But you still need to document how/where you're getting information — see Wikinews:Original reporting. If you are doing original reporting in your first few articles on the project you can expect to be asked to share detailed information about your research and interviewing.

Cultural differences

As of now, the community of Wikinews contributors is very small compared to Wikipedia; there are only about twenty or so active editors on the site, and it is not difficult to become acquainted with every active contributor. The project's IRC chatroom on Freenode can be quite busy at times, but that can depend on the geographic distribution of contributors — if seeking help, don't leave after 5–10 minutes. As experienced by some newcomers to Wikinews, the review process can present a significant challenge. Consider your draft carefully, remove bias and unattributed expression of a point of view, and reference your work carefully — following the Wikinews style guide — for sourcing and external links. As a small project where everyone is always under time pressure, reviewers may respond curtly or discouragingly, they may respond in a blunt manner — they are human, possibly overstretched, and defending the project's credibility and gravitas of reportage. Should you receive a rejection, consider it a challenge; focus on the content of your article, policy and stylistic differences, and the "going to press" nature of an article being passed at review, published on the main page, distributed through Google News, RSS, and various other social networking sites.

Good luck; the standards set are high, and the timescales can be challenging.

Technologies we use

  • Dynamic Page List (aka DPL) is the technology we use to power our "Latest News" on the Main Page. It dynamically updates the list based on what categories an article is or is not in, along with its "Sight" status (see FlaggedRevs).
  • Flagged Revisions (aka FlaggedRevs) is a technology that allows us to easily control vandalism and aids in the process of preventing errant articles from being published without a proper review. Only users of the Reviewer group can "sight" edits on an article, which is part of the peer review process. You won't get reviewer status instantly or automatically, but it's easy-come, easy-go; it doesn't take a lot of work to prove to the wider community that you understand the responsibility it confers.

Differences in user rights

Administrators and bureaucrats on Wikinews serve pretty much the same purpose and have the same tasks as on Wikipedia (with the exception of archiving, see the above sections for more on that). We do, however, have one extra user group that is substantially different than at WP — it's called Reviewer. This is a sort of intermediate group between "user" and "admin"; basically, it allows users in that group to "sight" or approve articles in order for them to appear on the main page. This is part of Flagged Revisions, and it helps us have some quality control in what articles are published, which gains us a listing in Google News, and also helps reduce the possibility that vandalism and other unconstructive edits will be seen by a casual reader.

Reviewer status also comes packaged with rollback, the same sort that is used on Wikipedia. The reviewer right can be granted to or removed from a user by any administrator, although all requests should go through WN:FRRFP first. Those given Administrator access for technical needs may be asked to avoid performing the initial review on articles; this may be for reasons like being a non-native English speaker, or having appalling spelling.

Transwiki content

Because of legal reasons, it's not possible to transwiki content from Wikipedia; however, it is legally allowed to transwiki content from Wikinews to Wikipedia. For more information, see the Wikipedia page Wikipedia:Wikinews.