updated 9/6/2006 8:50:31 PM ET 2006-09-07T00:50:31

Wired News readers are getting a chance to shape the news: For an article about wiki collaboration software, anyone may contribute using — what else? — a wiki.

The online news outlet challenged readers to edit a 1,059-word article just like an editor would. The writer, Ryan Singel, has even posted interview notes and conducted additional research in response to questions raised by the community.

Over the past week, the story has gone through more than 300 drafts, doubling in size as one reader conducted her own interview and added quotes, wiki vendors added references to their offerings and others contributed additional examples to support the premise.

Singel said the experiment has gone smoothly so far, devoid of the pranks and vandalism he had feared when Wired opened up the story to changes. With wikis, anyone may change, add or even delete passages, regardless of expertise.

But Singel doesn't believe the community can ever replace professional editors: Large groups can't easily agree on what parts to cut out, nor are they always careful about style.

"The original story had a bit more of a narrative flow, art to it," he said. "The additional information detracts from that a little bit. ... There are still portions that feel a little like a manual or a primer."

Wired editors plan to release a final version Thursday after editors vet the story for style and glaring errors, Singel said.

News organizations have tried collaborative articles before. Esquire magazine ran a similar experiment on a story about the open encyclopedia Wikipedia. The Los Angeles Times also briefly opened its editorials to public editing, but suspended it after being flooded with foul language and pornography.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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