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., LibriVox.
- 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 crowdsourcing 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 typical examples 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:
- Have a noble purpose — e.g., shared knowledge (use a free license), help a community.
- Demonstrate value — most interesting example is “carry the torch”; wiki communities can be transient, an entity that keeps focus helps.
- Be Transparent.
- Extract value where you provide value — most obviously, advertising for hosting.
- Set boundaries.
- Be personally involved.
- Run with the right crowd — e.g., open source and open content, or you will be suspect of being a crowdsourcer.
Update 20070317: Prodromou has a roundup of blog responses to his presentation. It was great indeed catching up with him.