Saturday, March 10, 2007

SXSWi panel on commercialization of wikis

Here's some notes on Ev. Prodromou's talk on commercialization of wikis. (Here's his slides, which he just nicely emailed to me.)

Does commerce belong in wikis?
- the wikisphere needs a healthy ecology

Supporting a wiki project
- out of pocket
- donations, grants, govt.
- wiki farm. Wikia. Nurturing the wild wiki.

Four types of wiki businesses:

  • Service provider: Wikispace, wetpaint, pbwiki
  • Content hosting: wikiHow, Wikitravel, Wikia. Focus on particular topics. Managing the wiki itself and developing its culture and community.
  • Consulting: Socialtext, biggest company in this area. Taking the wiki method into the enterprise. Going into companies and showing them how to use wikis. Use wikis and wiki theory to help companies make the best wikis out there. Being professional wiki evangelists.
  • Content development: WikiBiz. Started on Wikipedia. Offered a service to write Wikipedia pages for companies, following Wikipedia policies and procedures.

    Prodromou is most interested in talking about the content hosting variety. Crowdsourcing. There's suckers, yahoos, rubes, you get them to do your work for you, and then sell it back to them.

    Wikinomics. This is the kind of model that that's trying to sell. Get a sucker to work on your site for free, hahaha.

    Prodromou says: "EFF THAT. I hate the term crowdsourcing. It's one of the ugliest terms ever invented on the internet. People in wiki software are some of the most idealistic, altruistic people on the planet. We don't want to exploit people."

    Platform for knowledge. Knowledge havers and needers. You are in both categories. Crossing that line and providing a platform for knowledge havers and needers to communicate. Give them focus and direction. Be a steward of that knowledge and its flow. "You" as the wiki provider are not the focus. It's noble, it's decent, and there's no exploitation involved.

    Rules for commercial wikis:
    - have a noble purpose
    - demonstrate value
    - be transparent
    - extract value where you provide value
    - set boundaries
    - be personally involved
    - run with the right crowd.

    I disagree with his chart about blogs, photos, wikis, and ego. (He measured blogs as contributing value mostly to the blogger's ego!)

    A plug for Creative Commons. Let go. Go with the freest kinds of license. Citing the post-Katrina disaster relief sites with names and locations of people, as a noble purpose. (True, but more complicated than that, often.)

    Ways to add value: software development, systems admin for big wikis, community management, external promotion, carry the torch. Community management is becoming a profession.

    Transience of wiki communities. Typical user sticks around for a couple of months. But the community continuity has to be maintained.

    Being transparent is important. Any hint of bogusness, duplicity, tricking, exploiting, is awful. People go away because of that. You put up that wall, people are going to leave.

    Commercializing. Ads. Physical media that use the content, books. Any attempt to extract value out of hte user database itself is bad. They're your community (not your spam target...)

    Set boundaries. The users can't set your business decisions but they can set parameters and make decisions for their community. But the business also has to have boundaries to not set community policy or only set it so far.

    Personal involvement. Have a user page with a picture. Be present. Run with the right crowd, be part of open content, open source communty. People judge you based on who you hang out with. Find partners, find projects that you would like to work with.

    Conclusions:
    Commercial wikis are healthy additions to the net and to free/open content. The commercialization should be mindful and careful.

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  • 1 comment:

    Evan Prodromou said...

    Wow! Your notes are a lot more comprehensive than the ones on my slides.