It’s a good question. For most of us, they’re just a username. But now, the Wikimedia Foundation is working to put a face and personality on those Wikipedians with a video series called Wikipedia:Username. Read More
[HTML2]For all the wiki activity in Portland—I mean, c’mon, the inventor of the wiki lives here—Portland has been virtually bereft of a wiki of its own.
Until now. There’s a new project underway called Portland Wiki. It’s goal? To document everything there is to know about Portland, Oregon. And you’re invited to help. I mean, it’s a wiki. Duh. Read More
You may remember Portland-based Versionista from last year, when they stepped into the limelight as the McCain camp used the tool to highlight recent changes to the Obama campaign site.
Now, they’re allowing Web site owners to expose those changes, themselves, with a new service that provides the date of the last change and highlights the content that has been revised.
Here’s an example using Silicon Florist’s recent changes.
It seems appropriate that the town known for its wikis—and home to the father of the wiki, Ward Cunningham—is home to a service inspired by the wiki view of recent changes. Even if you don’t let your readers edit your site, it’s always nice to let them know what you’ve changed.
To test drive this feature or to add it to your site, visit Versionista.
Sometimes, I get scooped. I admit it. I’m not always on the “breaking news” ball. This is one of those occasions.
A few weeks back, I saw news on Versionista, a tool that allows you to track the changes that occur on publicly accessible Web pages. It seems that the McCain camp had used the product to track changes on the Obama site:
The McCain campaign web site recently published a link to a Versionista comparison that shows changes to Obama’s web page about the Iraq war. The link, which is captioned “Obama Refines His Iraq Page”, is posted alongside other links which point to off-site articles written by various political commentators who are critical of Obama. The aim is obviously to generate the perception that Obama’s position on the war is inconsistent.
While the technology was exceptionally cool—much like change trackers I used to use back in the dotcom days—there was one thing that piqued my interest even more than the technology. Versionista is from Portland, Oregon.
Versionista was inspired by the highlighting that occurs when wiki pages are edited:
A side-by-side comparison and multiple other views let you see “before and after” versions of every monitored page. We highlight what text has been added, deleted, or moved. Versionista will keep up to 25 versions per page. You can “rollback” in time to see older versions.
The Versionista service allows you to test drive the system with two URLs. Or you can subscribe to begin tracking multiple URLs.
The pricing is aggressive for hobbyists—the lowest-level subscription runs about $200 a year for 30 URLs—but for professionals who desperately need this type of “what changed when” functionality on a limited basis, the pricing shouldn’t be too terribly oppressive. Power users can track up to 2,500 URLs for $6,000 a year.
So what about exploiting the service? I knew you’d think about that, because you’re a smart cookie.
Versionista is pretty clear about what you can and can’t do in their EULA (which, incidentally, is the second URL I’m currently tracking, in addition to the Silicon Florist URL):
YOU MAY NOT USE SOFTWARE PRODUCT TO STEAL OTHERS’ COPYRIGHTS OR TRADEMARKS…. YOU MAY NOT USE SOFTWARE PRODUCT TO SPIDER OR CRAWL GOOGLE ADWORDS, OVERTURE LISTINGS, OR OTHER PAY-PER-CLICK OR SIMILAR SERVICES FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEFRAUDING THEIR SYSTEM.
I know a number of breaking-news bloggers who have been begging for a service like this. You may be in the same boat. Given that you’re allowed to track two URLs for free, I’d suggest you try it out. And when you do, I’d love to hear how it works for you.
As home to Ward Cunningham, father of the wiki, Portland has a special place in the world of wiki. And, of course, we’ve also got AboutUs here—Ward’s current employer—which holds the promise to be one of the leading wikis in the world.
So when something momentous happens with wikis, it affects Portland. And today’s announcement definitely fits the bill.
Introducing the Universal Edit Button.
What is the Universal Edit Button? Well, you know how we’ve all become conditioned to look for the little RSS chiclet as an indicator that an RSS feed is available? This is that same idea—only it’s an icon that indicates a page is editable.
And while the conversations around the concept have been circulating for a few years, like wikis themselves, the actual development took place quite quickly.
That was a little over a month ago. And now, 20 different wikis are participating. That’s mind boggling to me. And a testament to the wiki community.
So how will it work? The Universal Edit Button wiki describes it this way:
The Universal Editing Button (UEB) will allow a web surfer to more quickly recognize when a site may be edited. It will be a convenience to web surfers who are already inclined to contribute, and an invitation to those who have yet to discover the thrill of building a common resource. As this kind of public editing becomes more commonplace, the button may become regarded as a badge of honor. It may serve as an incentive to encourage companies and site developers to add publicly-editable components to their sites, in order to have the UEB displayed for their sites.
Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick put it this way:
Leave it to people in the wiki market to know how to collaborate. Nearly 20 different wiki providers have teamed up to offer a new Firefox extension that will notify users whenever they are on a page that is publicly editable, using a standard icon that sits in the same place the RSS autodiscovery icon appears. Clicking on the icon… will take you to that page’s editing interface.
Again, I think this is a huge step forward in wiki collaboration and its great to see. But what I remain even more impressed by? The speed at which this whole thing took place. And the collaboration that helped them achieve it.
I think there are any number of open-source and open-specification pursuits that could stand to learn from this.
For some of the history and discussion of this concept, you can see some of the dialogue on the AboutUs Universal Edit Button page. For more on the sites supporting this fledgingly concept and information on how to participate, visit the Universal Edit Button wiki. Convinced? Here’s the Universal Edit Button Firefox extension.
Portland-based AboutUs, the wiki that has rapidly become the de facto source for company Web site information, has announced three new service offerings that promise to improve the promotional nature and the utility of AboutUs services. Not to mention, help the AboutUs bottom line.
The new services include:
- Monitor any page on AboutUs for free. Now, anyone (you don’t even have to have an account) can monitor any wiki page on the AboutUs site for changes. Think of it like Google Alerts for your Web site profile.
- Hire an AboutUs expert to design your presence. Sure, the beauty of wikis (wiki? wikia?) is that they can be edited on the fly. But, let’s be honest, that doesn’t always make for the prettiest presentation. To help solve this problem, AboutUs is now offering a premium services package that includes in-house design and personalized wiki coaching for a one-time fee of $99.
- Sponsor a collection of pages. AboutUs is also introducing the option of sponsoring a collection of links on a given topic—they refer to these landing pages as “portals”—that aggregate business listings and functionality like calendaring and maps for cities around the world and industry verticals. Obviously, my favorite portal page is the Portland Tech Portal. Although I must admit, I’m quite fond of the Portland Tech Blogs page, as well.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the AboutUs announcement is the level of traffic (emphasis is mine) these guys are generating. And the types of revenues to which that traffic may lead.
Though AboutUs is a collaborative project built together by people from around the world, it needs none the less to be economically viable. Advertising revenue from 5 million monthly unique visitors to the site and Portal level sponsorships are already coming in. The new products launching today should lead to a further, substantial increase in site traffic and company revenue.
No doubt, the Silicon Florist page on AboutUs has a great deal to do with those numbers.
Clearly it’s working based on the traffic they are receiving. I like the options they are offering to monetize the site past AdSense and the monitoring could help clear up sticky edits quickly. Again, this relies on a business even knowing there is an AboutUs page about them.
AboutUs is a wiki whose goal is to create a free and valuable Internet resource containing information both about websites and other community created topics/information. The site was pre-populated with information about many different websites and thousands of updates are now being made by people each day. For more information on AboutUs, see its AboutUs page.