SXSW: Commercialization of Wikis

Evan Prodromou gave an excellent presentation on Commercialization of Wikis: Open Community That Pays the Bills. Check out his slides.

A few points:

  • Other stuff will be recognized as having wiki nature, e.g., .
  • Four categories of wiki businesses: service provider (Wikispaces, Wetpaint, PBWiki), content hosting (wikiHow, Wikitravel, Wikia), consulting (SocialText), content development (WikiBiz). My comment: at first blush Wikia would seem to be a service provider, but they are also deeply involved in content creation and community management.
  • Down with and the notion that wiki contributors are suckers or sharecroppers. Better to think of wikis (and wiki businesses) as platforms for knowledge. Contributors use your wiki to help each other, not to give you free content. My comment: I’m not so down on crowdsourcing. Yes, it is MBA language, but the usually involve compensating contributors. Crowdsourcing shouldn’t be conflated with sharecropping, nor confused with community purpose.
  • For wikis purpose more important than friends or ego for blogs (cf. blogs and social networking).

Seven rules for commercial wikis:

  1. Have a noble purpose — e.g., shared knowledge (use a free license), help a community.
  2. Demonstrate value — most interesting example is “carry the torch”; wiki communities can be transient, an entity that keeps focus helps.
  3. Be Transparent.
  4. Extract value where you provide value — most obviously, advertising for hosting.
  5. Set boundaries.
  6. Be personally involved.
  7. Run with the right crowd — e.g., open source and open content, or you will be suspect of being a crowdsourcer.

It appears that Prodromou’s Wikitravel lives by these rules and has succeeded.

Update 20070317: Prodromou has a roundup of blog responses to his presentation. It was great indeed catching up with him.

9 Responses

  1. [...] don’t. You’re not needed (see below). If you really, really must go ahead, read Evan Prodromou’s seven rules for commercial wikis (which apply to any community site) seven hundred times, then think about it for a long [...]

  2. [...] Prodromou has talked and presented previously about the Commercialisation of wikis (good round-up here, slides here). He identifies four different wiki business [...]

  3. [...] journalism, don’t. You’re not needed (see below). If you really, really must go ahead, read Evan Prodromou’s seven rules for commercial wikis (which apply to any community site) seven hundred times, then think about it for a long [...]

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