WikiSweeper is a project to study how Wikipedia editors track, evaluate and verify sources on rapidly evolving pages of Wikipedia, the results of which will inform the development of Ushahidi's Sweeper tool.
- 13 September, 2011 WikiSweeper project is launched in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation
From the blog
Announcing the launch of WikiSweeper
On the 25th of January this year, Egyptians took to the streets to demand the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. At exactly 13:26 UTC on the 25th, Wikipedia editor, The Egyptian Liberal, created a page on .en Wikipedia titled ‘2011 Egyptian Revolution’. Following this, hundreds of edits were made to the page as events in Egypt unfolded...
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About the project
The WikiSweeper project was inspired by a meeting in late 2010 between Erik Moeller of the Wikimedia Foundation and Jon Gosier, former director of Swift/Ushahidi who were struck by the common problem that users of both systems are faced with when information is coming at them from hundreds or even thousands of different sources. In particular they recognised how Sweeper could potentially be used by Wikipedia editors to collaboratively make sense of sources rather than all using independent strategies for tracking and verifying issues of importance.
The project consists of two parts. The first will involve ethnographic and user research to investigate how Wikipedia editors currently track, evaluate and debate news sources as they edit pages. The other will see the development of the Sweeper tool based on learnings from the first phase of the project. The Swift platform is currently being developed to accommodate a variety of general applications, but needs to be developed according to specific use cases in order to evolve into a platform that effectively manages large data sources.
The idea for this project began with two key problems illustrated by recent events. On the 25th of January this year, Egyptians took to the streets to demand the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. What followed was a concerted popular campaign of civil resistance featuring a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil disobedience, and labor strikes. Wikipedia editor, The Egyptian Liberal, created a page on the encyclopedia titled ‘2011 Egyptian Revolution’ at 13:26 UTC on January 25. Following this, hundreds of edits were made to the page as events in Egypt unfolded. As each editor looked to editing and maintaining the quality and credibility of the page, they needed to manually and painfully track the news cycle, each with their own searches and alert systems. In the quest to create collaborative production there is no transparent way of seeing how each editor has come to the conclusion to accept one news source as credible while dismissing others.
This project aims to analyze the current systems that editors use to track and verify news sources on rapidly evolving pages of Wikipedia. How did editors verify news sources in scenarios like the Japan earthquake and the Egyptian revolution or around cultural phenomena like the Kenyan Makmende story where notability and verifiability is often situated outside the frame of reference of most established editors? What techniques do editors use to track issues around pages that they edit? What role does social media play in this process?
Technology lead: David Kobia