Development of editorial tools for a collaborative news platform


We helped WikiTribune develop mission-critical processes for collaborative editing, revision tracking, moderation and editorial approval.

WikiTribune is Jimmy Wales’ recently-launched news platform that lets journalists and community volunteers work together on stories to combat fake news and bias.

We’ve been working with WikiTribune to develop (both in terms of “idea” and “code”) some of the site’s mission-critical back-end features:

  1. allowing multiple people to edit the same article at the same time (without creating branches)
  2. helping contributors to resolve and merge conflicting edits as they happen
  3. extending the version control system to manage custom content and fields
  4. extending the version comparison tool (diff) to show HTML and WYSIWYG views, and allow copying and pasting in WYSIWYG
  5. making it easier for editors to check and approve or reject changes made by contributors

WikiTribune is a WordPress website, and much of the CMS’s designed functionality had to be changed extensively to make WikiTribune’s editorial features possible.

For example, by default, WordPress locks Posts so that only one user can edit at a time (precisely in order to avoid edit conflicts); it has a revision and diff system, but taxonomy, featured images and custom metafields aren’t managed by the system; its diff tool normally only shows code, not the end result (making it inefficient for non-coding editors, and masking some visual-only issues that risk going live unchecked); it has a “draft > published” workflow, but once content has been published, all subsequent updates (by any user) go live, without editorial approval.

The editorial WordPress plugins we developed for WikiTribune will be made open-source in the near future. In the meantime, you can see some of our work in action by becoming a WikiTribune user yourself.

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