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Books Get 'Wiki', Remain Whack

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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NOVEL IDEA Penguin's worldwide fiction

Amazingly, the "wiki" meme shows no sign of stopping. According to England's Guardian, Penguin is planning an open-source novel called A Million Penguins, "based on the principles of Wikipedia ... open to anyone to join in, write, and edit."

Penguin's digital publisher, Jeremy Ettinghausen says, "To be honest, we don't know exactly what is going to happen or how this will turn out."

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They might want to ask Michael Kinsley since, when he was the editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, he briefly implemented a "wikitorial" system that would allow readers to tweak opinions at will. It lasted three glorious days. On June 21, 2005, AP reported that it was "flooded the site over the weekend with foul language and pornographic photos." All that remains of the experiment is a page that explains, "we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily, because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material."

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