Wednesday, April 12, 2006

33 Wikis: # 20 -- The TV IV -- Survival by Wiki

This is the twentieth 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 all can 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 about: Yesterday we asked you to sit in an armchair, and to consider the possibilities for leveraging your sports addiction on a wiki. You can stay in that armchair, because today we want to tell you about an opportunity for all TV lovers: The TV IV, the most complete collaborative Web site dedicated to our favorite medium (evidence of our feelings here and here). From the "about" page: "The TV IV seeks to give you current, up-to-date information on your favorite shows, both current and old. This is an open encyclopedia of television shows, which means that anyone can edit the information at will. We urge you to go to your favorite television show and help contribute, as this website can only grow with your contributions. The TV IV aims to include information about every television show and is not limited to American or British television. "

Why we like it: Where else can you go to get the Fall network schedule for 1963, and correct it if it is wrong? And The TV IV caters not only to nostalgia but also any variety of contemporary programming. The only requirement is that you care so much about your shows that you'd want to visit this site and perhaps contribute to it. There's got to be a pretty big audience. At last count, this wiki logged 73, 148 articles. But what we really like about this wiki is that it's a survivor (pun intended). It has a rather complex history:

In the summer of 2005, TV Tome became TV.com following its buyout by CNET. Several people who frequent The TV IV forum in the Something Awful Forums were unhappy about that. The new site was filled with Flash and ads, and some of the content from TV Tome was missing. It was decided that, like The Six Million Dollar Man, "we can rebuild him," er, I mean, it. The TV IV wiki was born.

By the way, don't feel bad if you love TV so much that you'd want to write about it. Steven Johnson says TV is good for us. We agree, though we wish there were fewer commercials (we're working on that).

What we all can learn from it: This is another great fan site -- but for all fans of an entire medium, not just a specific artist, entertainer, or work. But there's a bigger lesson here: to repeat what we said above, the fact that this project has survived by changing its format (from static Web site to vibrant wiki) is impressive. If your Web site is failing, ask if there's an easy way to make it more interactive.

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