Current events article development

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Information on contributing to the current events page

Why a current events page? Wikipedia, the project and its readers, benefits greatly from articles on this page. For one thing, it's a great way to get people into the project (if we're among the first to have articles on a certain timely subject, the page is ranked higher by Google, it seems). It's also an excellent way simply to make Wikipedia more useful to the public at large. Our having detailed, accurate background articles on topics of current interest serves a real, immediate, public interest. But unless the page is updated on a very regular basis--daily--it is of relatively limited use. We ought to see to it that it's updated fairly regularly.

Current events is not a news page. We shouldn't be in the business of writing articles about breaking news stories, unless indeed we can be very confident, as in the case of the September 11 attacks, that in the future there will be a significant call for an encyclopedia article on that topic. One very significant danger is that news articles must be kept current in order to remain accurate. Wikipedians might begin a news article and then simply lose interest in the topic, whereupon the article becomes inaccurate. In short, we aren't set up to be an amateur news organization, and we shouldn't try to compete with professional news organizations.

Current events is a news backgrounder. What we can do, probably better than professional news organizations in many cases (who often give inadequate background information), is to write in-depth background articles on topics that deeply inform a sophisticated understanding of current events. Hence, while we almost certainly wouldn't want to write an article about, for example, the recent fall of Mazar-i-Sharif to the Northern Alliance, we certainly would want an articles about Northern Alliance, Mazar-i-Sharif, ethnic conflict, etc. In many ways, having that background is more important than following the daily news itself.

How to keep the page updated. Some topics stay in the news for years at a stretch--terrorism, for example. Other topics are in the news for about a week or two, and some are here today and gone tomorrow. So the current events page has to be updated daily, by people who follow the news daily, to be of maximal use. Probably an excellent way to keep the page updated is to have it open in a separate window while we are reading the news online (or offline, for that matter). When new topics appear in the news, on which the background that an encyclopedia article might give would be useful, they should be added to the current events page.