Posts Tagged ‘content’

#rcc09 Wikis as Business

February 21st, 2009

Taking notes as a presentation by Evan on wikis as business because I am not facilitating this session. Some random thoughts from this:

Introducing money into the equation can change the dynamics of a wiki community.

There is a fear that the wiki maintainer will profit off other people’s work. Wiki maintainers and owners need to really work on it so that they treat their contributors with respect, help with administration and provide services to the community. Communities need to own the project. The company owns the website.

One wiki model that has worked is doing wiki farms but it isn’t really a software business in an interesting way because it doesn’t have the content issue and the community issues in that way.

This may pose a question regarding a business model that is viable. How can you make it a successful business if you can’t generate revenue just through advertising?

Ways to do that? Let the community pay for the platform… That may work well in some places but people are like “Why should I pay for the privilege of working for you?”

Google Advertising can remove value because the value ends up only being in the words. Possible way is to go directly to the advertiser. It helps improve your return on advertising.

Display Revenue takes a lot more organizational work than Google Revenue.

For a site like vinismo, direct advertising may work really well because the content is very focused in its content and mission.

WikiTravel declared that the far right column is for advertising. The ads didn’t appear in the wiki content.

WikiTravel also generates revenue through being able to print up physical version in a condensed version for people to use in another medium where they sell that printed version.

Most of the editors for the print version come from the WikiTravel community. They get hired for the print version. Being hired for wikitravel from with in the community helps maintain the community.

Books cost between $12.95 and $25 and you get the most up to date version.

Other mediums are about brand extension.

Yellow Wikis got shut down because of trademark but they were similar to the yellow pages. Their business model was that businesses could pay to protect their page. It was partially succesful. It might have moved to Wikia.

There is a question of if paying for ownership of a topic can be done in an ethical.

AboutUs pays for the article to be written, the article to be featured, etc. Companies get follow links when they pay. (But everyone who does constructive edits gets their links turned on to follow. That is manually being done. That policy is still in the air.) The main page rank has a lot of good page rank so that they have good reason to pay in some reasons.

There was a business that did a pay for improving articles on Wikipedia. The business that did that kind of got shut down because while they had the know how to write good edits on Wikipedia, the business didn’t interact well with the Wikipedia community.

Some people still do paid article writing on Wikipedia. They just aren’t as obvious as about it, are good communities, etc.

If you can show value to the community, that you aren’t taking anything away from the community, then it makes sense to do some monetization.

Three basic components to monetize: 1) Software, 2) Content & Advertising services, 3) People side and how to wiki. (Steven Walling.)

Dream Fish does a collaboration and co-working consulting business that is about establishing a collaboration culture. It is about practicing together. There is a paid content fee for some types of content. They help them find the appropriate wiki software to help them serve their goal. They help them figure out how they want to network and use collaborative tools. They also help people identify key people to help them implement their solution.

Steward Meyner does wiki consulting.

Microsoft has tried to put out white papers on how they use wikis.

Portland created a wiki and later didn’t realize what they wanted to do with their wiki. They ended up backtracking because of that as a result.

There is a need for a wiki for wiki consultants where you can get reputation, years of experience and involvement with types of software.

Wiki is great for content based websites. It can be more cost effective with users generating content.

GoogleAds wasn’t something that AboutUs originally feel was going to pan out but now they have changed their view because it now works and their Google Ads and they make money. It helps because they have really broad ads which works pulls them up which Google Ads helps serves up. They are also helped because they get a lot of traffic. They tried content categories for niche sales but for AboutUs it really hasn’t worked well so far. AboutUs thinks that Google Ads works well for random content where they can’t really target. It can be hard to sell specific ads for sections because it takes time and effort and people to sell ads across those categories.

wikiHow has a very similar model to AboutUs. That works really well for wikiHow.

LeadGen is a model about selling the ability to do surveys where the company does polls that they then sell that polling information to marketing companies. Leads can be worth $30 to $40. AboutUs learned about it from All Star Directory. That site has a lot of information about colleges and universities. People fill out forms with the expectation of being contacted about that information. It is online research, offline purchase. It can remove some of those issues involving community as your community isn’t going to get ad information they don’t ask for.

Wagn is a company that gets paid to host and doing consulting services related to the wiki they are hosting. Wagn doesn’t have wiki competitor because of what they are doing.

Mahalo has a micropayment service to reward for contributors where they can monetize it off. This might not work for everyone as people can be corrupted by reward. Alfie Cone did some research where kids were paid to play games and some were not. The kids who got paid stopped playing with toys when they told they were done. People get different things out of an altruistic activity. You need to consider some of that when you try things like that.

Evan doesn’t see wiki software business as much different than other software selling businesses. The only thing that might be different is the admin type function.

Wikia pays people to do some of that community maintenance. But that feels like doing it just to help generate community. Wikia also pays for wikis. They use a selling point of helping with community moderation to help prevent fights.

Wagn has a possible selling point of maintaining things so that people wn’t have to worry about becoming them next magnolia. The person can have back ups easier than other places. Wagn can also sell on having structured data and yet behind collaborative. They can also show that they need to sell that the content can’t be behind a firewall because their software is so great. They also help people to help them wagneering/wikibuilding which helps those users get greater ownership in house.

Ward Cunningham was told with in a week that he should patent the wiki idea. He didn’t necessarily see a way to patent it with out a wiki community being active. He didn’t see a business model off the first wikis. A few years later, he talked to entrepreneurs who paid him to do consulting and customer support where he found that it could make money in that way in terms of live organizational support and structuring. But the amount of support wasn’t necessarily right as it required almost a job to do that he wasn’t interested in. He now gives wikis to people for free. Ward calls his software The Wiki or more properly, Wiki Version 4. His big wiki is currently on Wiki Version 1. Wiki Version 4 is more modular. Ward did explore potential when was at its peak to sell the wiki. He talked to some people, went through some friends and some people might have been interested but the people interested would only have paid for the code based on how much it would have cost for the company to create the software themselves. The potential buyers were not interested in the community built on the site. Ward has made some money off Amazon Associated from the sale of books. He also makes money off the business card. He has never gotten any consulting work off of his wiki work… which is wow as he invented wikis. That might have been because he highballed the price. He was competing against Lotus Notes. The competitor might have looked at it as Lotus Notes vs. lone consultant and the end users doing the asking because they wanted to avoid Lotus Notes. The higher ups weren’t as interested in the user experience.

Are we hard wired to get personal gratification for being altruistic? Can that be used to make wikis better? Maybe wikis can be used to help prevent donor fatigue.

Some people may be hard wired to give and people might be emotionally hurt if they don’t give.

How would be work differently if that isn’t hard wired but cultural? Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference at all.

People might be financially rewarded for what they are passionate about. Though that might actually be hard to monetize.

Ward Cunningham didn’t worry about money as much when perusing his passion. He might not have been positioned as well connection wise in order to make money.

Wiki might not have been positioned correctly to get patented because when done it might have been viewed as something like herding chickens.

The idea for patents is to encourage innovation but it might not do that because it encourages people to work in isolation. Rather, all it does is encourage people to make a business model around an idea.

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