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Submissions/TERRAIN AHEAD! To Survive a Disaster On Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

Not going to happen, since speaker could not come to Wikimania.

This is a withdrawn submission for Wikimania 2012.

Terrain Ahead

Submission no.


Title of the submission
TERRAIN AHEAD! To Survive a Disaster On Wikipedia
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Marcin Cieślak
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Polish Wikipedia
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

On April 10th, 2010 at 06:41:07,5 UTC a Polish Air Force Tu-154M crashes killing all 96 aboard, including Polish President in office, Lech Kaczyński, many prominent Polish public servants and politicians as well as commanders of the Polish Armed Forces.

On April 10th, 2010 at 07:42 UTC the first edit is made on Polish Wikipedia in reference to the event.

This day marked a rise of over 20% in the number of revisions posted on Wikipedia as compared to a usual day.

Most of the persons aboard the airplane already had their biographies on Polish Wikipedia. Most of them held important public posts and we can estimate that the direct aftermath of the said disaster affected a few hundred articles within the online encylopaedia. During that day Polish community had to solve many issues, including reliability of sources, notability, original research, sensitivity of biographies of living people and consitutional and legal consequences of the disaster, to name but a few.

How did the editors of Polish Wikipedia handle this event?

During my talk I would like to analyze the course of events of the day using various on-wiki and off-wiki communication channels. I will attempt to handle the following issues:

  1. Analysis of administrative measures (blocks, protections) taken during the first day after the disaster;
  2. How the decision making process changed in the face of such an event? How a community that is used to discuss issues for weeks if not months was able to manage a story development on the scale of minutes?
  3. Wikipedia core values vs. instant reporting - finding the right balance;
  4. Do such events attract new editors? Is there any lasting effect on the story under scrutiny?
  5. Is Wikipedia newsworthy? How well can Wikipedia editors handle current events?
  6. Aftermath - feedback after the dust has settled. How well did Wikipedia perform in the opinion of the community?
  7. Major lessons learned from the times of trouble that can be applied to the business as usual situations.

Disclaimer: This talk is not a scientific study of the subject. It will be based on personal account of a person directly involved in the event and therefore will certainly be biased. Nevertheless, the focus will be made on measurable effect, quantified if possible.

This talk can take longer than the assumed 25 minutes (up to 45). However, partial analysis can be provided within the shorter timeframe.

WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
25-45 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations
no restrictions apart from the timeframe

Interested attendees

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  1. Not having been around that day, so it might be interesting to get a first-hand report. odder (talk) 22:23, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Airwolf (talk) 00:46, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. CT Cooper · talk 19:45, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Graham87 (talk) 13:28, 31 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Add your username here.