Commercial Wikis and Failure

I have a lot of personal, shamelessly snarky theories about why commercial wikis are typically doomed to fail; on CNN right now there’s a good opinion piece on the subject that’s well worth a read. Snip:

At the beginning of February, for instance, Penguin Books – one of the biggest names in the global publishing industry – launched a month-long, publicity-soaked project that attempted to get Web surfers to create a novel. The idea seemed destined to belong in the Web 2.0 hall of fame (or shame), as the most audacious (or most arrogant) use of crowdsourcing ever.
And eighteen months ago, the L.A. Times started a Wiki to open up its editorial page content to user-editing. (Wiki software allows a lot of people to edit the same document simultaneously, as with Wikipedia’s encyclopedia entries). In January, Amazon (Charts) launched its “Amapedia” in a bid to create product pages that could one day replace, or at least enhance, Amazon’s product descriptions. Penguin opened up its Wiki novel at in February.
But all of these efforts failed, to a greater or lesser extent. The L.A. Times failed spectacularly, as rampant, impassioned, and often obscene vandalism overtook its elegant op-eds. The Amapedia appears stillborn, as Amazon users stick with what they’re used to: individual, rather than collaborative, product reviews.


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