Brian Keegan looks at how breaking news is covered on Wikipedia as a large number of people try to create a real-time record of what’s happening followed by a core group of editors who clean things up and add additional details:
Wikipedia articles certainly do not break the news of the events themselves, but the first edits to these article happen within two to three hours of the event itself unfolding. However, once created these articles attract many editors and changes as well as grow extremely rapidly.
This is the most interesting chart, I think, which shows how these breaking stories are collaborated on in the first hour after the story is created.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about how breaking news is covered by social media. Much of the attention recently has turned to Reddit, which takes a much different approach to things than Wikipedia does. But what’s more notable than any individual case is how people are not just turning to these community-powered outlets for the latest news but that so many people are contributing themselves, adding links, insights and more to the general well of knowledge around an unfolding event.