Wednesday 23 September 2009

KM failure stories number 4 - right tool, wrong situation

A good story here about someone using specific KM tools for the wrong reasons, and going wildly off course as a result.

The Los Angeles Times decided that it would be good to have an editorial composed and edited by the masses. The LA Times started by posting their editorial, and then provided a wiki for the public to respond. As Wikipedia has learned, there is no alignment of goals among political types and the partisans reigned supreme during the very brief life of the wikitorial. In the organic, evolving world of wikis, consider the wikitorial an evolutionary dead-end. At first, the users made a good faith effort to collaborate on an editorial, but they soon concluded that producing a single editorial that was acceptable to everyone was not going to happen and there had already been attempts to delete the entire editorial, so by the second day, they forked the editorial so that it would be possible to represent different points of view. Once news of the wikitorial experiment showed up on Slashdot, a technology-related news website (, it attracted a lot of attention and it was soon followed by pornographic posts and so on. On the third day, the wikitorial was shut down.

The reason the Los Angeles Times wikitorial failed is that an editorial is a point of view about a controversial subject. The goals of the individuals on either side of the debate are to discredit those who disagree with them and establish their world view as pre-eminent. In other words, the goals of the left and the right are not aligned. Therefore, I suggest no bi-partisan wikis. Ever. There is no such thing.

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