Sunday, March 26, 2006

33 Wikis: #3 -- This Might Be a Wiki

This is the third installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we can all learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: "This Might Be a Wiki" -- a collaborative Web site for the rock band, They Might Be Giants -- might be the best fan site ever. In fact, that's how we rewrote the tagline for this wonderful site, which anyone can edit (after all, this is a wiki). The creators of the wiki, Scott Redd and Brad Will, have provided a place where fans from all over the world can share info, upload files, post guitar lines, publish show dates, and intrepret the complex, inventive lyrics that have won over so many fans since the 1980's.

Why we like it: as the wiki creators note, "there are a zillion TMBG web sites on the internet, but we're pretty sure this is the only one that you (yes, you) can edit." "This Might Be a Wiki" demonstrates that a wiki might in fact be the best platform for a fan site, whose readers are motivated to provide updates on the most minute levels of detail. "This Might Be a Wiki" is also innovative on the technical side. Check out ThisMightBeABot, a tool for automating various "tedious tasks" such as site navigation, categorization, and archiving.

What we can all learn from it: This is "wisdom of crowds," pure and simple -- a super-motivated community that works hard to make the wiki complete and -- just as important -- to make it correct. A great example of this is the revision history for TMBG co-founder John Sidney Linnell's bio -- dozens of edits from multiple authors, working together to get things right. We can think of several types of communities that can learn from this experiment. [Think, for example, of wiki communities for Democratic or Republican nominees -- party fans and faithfuls can collect and vet all sorts of information.] But for now, this site should light a fire in the general marketing community. I can think of no better way of connecting with customers than to let them in, let them participate in the great information machine, and let them make their own birdhouse in their soul.

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