Domain DevelopmentSemantic webWiki

Easy. Not Ugly.

By July 26, 2010 February 27th, 2017 No Comments

When we first launched Epik Wiki on July 4, I did not know what to expect in terms of user adoption.   Although it is way too early to declare victory, the early signs are encouraging as users embrace the platform and breathe life into domains that would have otherwise gone undeveloped.

Case Study – A people site with a passionate fan editor
Earlier today, I saw a good-looking Wiki get produced by a user. You can see it by visiting the site called  Who is this Nico guy?  Well, with more than 8,000 monthly searches, he has a lot of fans. We figured someone should build a fan site for Nico and picked up the domain. What we did not figure at the time was who was going to develop it.  The Wiki platform presented an ideal solution.

In the meantime, a fan of Nico named Sara, came along to the Wiki site and added content. We then made her an administrator of the site so she has the option of collecting Adsense on the site should she decide that this is important.  She seems to take more joy from having a reason to interact with Nico to secure latest content. In other words, the motivation of a Wiki editor is not per se financial.  And with zero training or documentation, Sara created a useful site that others can help edit.


Easy … not ugly
The bottom line is this.  Wikipedia goes out of its way to be ugly.   Compare:

To this:

Our challenge in creating a Federated Wiki platform was simple: Be Easy. Not Ugly.  So far so good.   The multimedia editor is at least as easy to use as Wikipedia, but the results blend multiple media formats which creates a richer experience.

Since releasing the Wiki platform, we have had countless requests for features.  To be clear, this is never going to be a full-blown Content Management System. It is a Wiki. It is easy.  That’s the point.  When it comes to a crowd-driven solution, it is has to be easy.

Countermeasures for Link-spam
The Epik Wiki does offer followable links.  This makes it a natural target for link spam.  It is a reasonable trade-off if someone contributes useful and relevant content that they might backlink to one of their sites.  That would be a win-win.  What sometimes happens is an author will simply add a backlink to their commercial site with no editorial value added.  In that case, the link is going to be removed if not by us, than by the editors who engage with the site.

Process-wise, when a new site is updated, we get a notification. In addition, anyone who signed up to receive news from the Wiki is also notified.   Over time, this builds into a following of engaged stakeholders who we believe will care if a useful Wiki is defaced by a useless link.  This crowd-based editing and policing is what ultimately makes it possible for a network of Wikis to scale.

Which comes first the chicken or the egg
The classic challenge that the Wiki platform faces is how to engage the crowd. The crowd can’t engage if it does not know that a site exists. The search engines won’t tell the crowd that a site exists until the site has a critical mass of original content.  So, how does one breathe life into a new Wiki besides aggregating existing content?  We are working on scalable approaches to engage the initial base of prospective Wiki contributors.  From there, the engaged community of topical enthusiasts can expand, and become self-policing in terms of what content is fair game or not.  And all of a sudden, everyone is Jimmy Wales.

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