Wikia and Mahalo are not competing for the same audience…

November 12th, 2009 by Laura Leave a reply »

Apologizes for writing quality.  This is stream of consciousness.

I love Wikia and I love Mahalo.  Both do interesting things in the wiki community, are fascinating to watch and offer important lessons to people running their own wikis.  Jason from Mahalo would really like to recruit Wikia contributors for Mahalo.  He’s offering a financial incentive to switch. 

It isn’t necessarily the right approach.  First, most Wikia wikis are not about individuals but rather groups.  He should be focused on pulling the whole admin team over to Wikia.  Second, he’s talking about contributors to his wiki earning revenue on a page by page basis.  Wikia wikis are complex and have a huge number of pages, or at the least the ones Jason should be trying to recruit. He’s only offering a single page solution, not a multipage solution. He’s also not offering an option to port the content from Wikia to their own user controlled subdomain. 

If I’m mad at Wikia and my community on my wiki is also mad at Wikia and we want to leave, Jason can’t get us because there is no option to port from Wikia to Mahalo.  (I’m also not certain that Mahalo could do this if they wanted to.  The licenses between the two may not be compatible.)  If there is no porting, I’m pretty much stuck on Wikia.  (Why leave Wikia?)  If I do want to leave and my community wants to leave, we might be able to do it easily if we’re talking a limited subset of pages.  (Less than 500 is easy enough to copy and paste over.  [Wiki farms like can help you move things over easily too.])   Mahalo is not even going to be a consideration because you get even less control community wise and content wise on Mahalo than you do with Wikia. 

Porting over from Wikia to Mahalo is even more problematic.  I might have my wiki about Twilight that has 20 pages.  I might be tired of Wikia because the ads are annoying and I like the idea of making money off content.  Wikia isn’t ever going to do that.  Can I move it to Mahalo?  Probably not.  On Wikia, I could create my special Twilight wiki because Wikia allows duplicate wikis around the same topic.  Mahalo is a bit like Wikipedia and it doesn’t seem designed that way.  The pages that will do best for that subject are going to be the obvious ones.  In the case of Twilight, that will be the Twilight page.  100 people can’t profit off Twilight and can’t curate it.  Communicating with the community editing it, another major plus for Wikia, is difficult.  The nature of Mahalo thus locks  out those power mad Wikia users who create small specific wikis around subject areas where there is already a bigger wiki on Wikia.

The money aspect is going to turn off a number of potential Wikia users.  If I’m a huge Twihard, I’m going to obsessively create content about Twilight because I LOVE TWILIGHT! ZOMG! THE SPARKLY VAMPIRES! I LOVE THEM!  My motivation is going to be based less on monetary return and more on my obsessive love and expressing it.  I’m going to look for like minded people.  Wikia is a turn on because it is a venue where I can create a clear product of my obsession and meet other like minded fans.  (Go Team Edward!)  Mahalo has limited interaction and money just cheapens my love.  Twihards and other obsessive fans are ones Jason should be courting because they produce loads of content for free because they are so obsessed.  In a number of cases, highly motivated fans who love the source create high quality content.  (See Wikipedia.)  Those folks are needed as fans as the pages they create will become great resources for people to cite.  Fans who create for money often think differently or misunderstand their audience, creating less desirable content.

If Jason wants to effectively market to unhappy Wikia users, he’s got to find a better solution.  His current methods are just off the mark.  Money needs to be de-emphasized, community more emphasized and he needs to demonstrate to the community he is courting that he is trust worthy and that users will have community control and content control, that he’ll support leaders in those community while putting monetization as a secondary goal.  I just don’t know if doing that is something that would be compatible with Mahalo’s goals as the two appear to be catering to different audiences.

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