It turns out that the reason the L.A. Times wikitorial came down was because some people were defacing it with pornographic pictures.
Too bad. Some are calling the experiment a failure. Some are saying that the wiki platform is not the best way to achieve interactivity with the paper’s readers. Some are saying: maybe it is, but not when used with editorials. And some are saying that starting the experiment with an editorial about the war — one of the most emotional topics you could pick — was a tactical mistake.
To me, the important thing is that the newspaper tried being truly interactive with its readers. This is a Good Thing. Interactivity carries with it perils: trolls, spammers, and just general assholes. Bloggers already know this.
But it’s worth it. The precise mechanism isn’t the key — for example, some blogs without comments are very interactive, but they use links and e-mails to maintain their connection with other sites. The key is the desire to have interactivity, and the boldness to pursue it even though many will be eager to pronounce the experiment a failure.
So, I salute Michael Kinsley and the others at The Times involved with this project. This is not a failure. It’s a beginning. The enterprise is worth it. Keep it up.