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November 30, 2019 05:34 pm

Jimmy Wales New Social Network Skyrockets To 345,000 Members, Will Hire Journalists

Jimmy Wales' new social network WT.Social started November with just 1,500 members. Four weeks later, it's skyrocketed up to 345,680 members -- and that's just the beginning. Next year Wales plans to hire journalists, with the site's users acting as their "editors-in-chief," fulfilling the dreams Wales had for the site's earlier incarnation as a crowd-sourced news platform Wikitribune, reports the journalism magazine Press Gazette:Wikitribune originally employed about ten to 12 journalists who created content and hit publish on stories for the site. But the whole editorial team was laid off in October last year after Wales told them costs were unsustainable with not enough money coming in from crowdfunding and no major investors. [On WT.Social] he instead enabled thousands of users to publish articles, a right that had previously been limited to Wikitribune's staff journalists.... "[T]here was a real feeling that this site was a journalists' website and you as a member are allowed to help them as a junior mini-journalist on the side. And that just didn't really work. Whereas to really foster that sense of community engagement and moral ownership of what they're doing, you kind of want to reverse that and say actually the journalists are here to serve whatever you're interested in so send them out, get them busy, you be the editor-in-chief and direct their work.... "We'll say: 'Here are some of the most active communities, you work for them -- what do they need you to do? What are the things that they want you to look into? Who do they want you to go and hunt down and interview?' So it's really putting journalists at the disposal of people who are in a certain area." Wales tell the Press Gazette that his original WikiTribune site had had a design that was "too intimidating" for non-journalists. "People felt like 'okay I have to go and write a whole big piece, edit it, publish it, all of that' rather than just sharing, interacting in a much more casual way..." "So far [on WT Social] that's proven to be overwhelmingly true," Wales added. On his new site users are signed up for four "subwikis" by default -- Internet News, Long Reads, Fighting Misinformation, and Upcoming Newsworthy Events -- and this has started some good conversations. "People come on the platform and they're discussing things, sharing things, writing things in a much more fluid way." WT.Social is currently looking for volunteer laravel or vue developers, as well as admins, and there's even a paid position as a community assistant.

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