What Makes Wikidot Better?

by pieterh on 05 Aug 2009 14:19

People sometimes compare Wikidot to other wiki farms like PBworks and wikispaces. The obvious differences are: we're much cheaper, we don't have a wysiwyg editor, and we don't have such nice graphics. But the real difference is much more important than that and explains why Wikidot will, IMO, become the most popular place for wiki 2.0 projects.

I'm going to coin this term: "Wiki 2.0". It means: web 2.0 projects built using wiki technology. Social projects, heavy on communication and built around simpler, more natural patterns, like "page + comments". Wiki 2.0 is not about technology, it is about people.

And it's the people that make Wikidot fundamentally different from our competitors. Search for "pbworks community" and the one site that appears shows a total of 11 topics posted. For wikispaces, the top site appears to be a blog that has about 3-5 posts per month.

Now compare to the Wikidot community, which has such a heavy traffic that those of us who watch that site feel as if we're in a kind of surreal realtime chat that involves dozens of people and lasts days. Like I said a few days ago, I counted 17,000 threads on the various community sites in three months.

The Wikidot community is not just well-organized, it is determined and smart and diverse and intellectually honest and large. And most critically, it uses Wikidot to construct itself. This is vital. No Google groups, no email lists, no Facebook, and barely a Twitter. We build Wikidot (the community) using Wikidot (the tool) and then we build Wikidot (the real answer) using Wikidot (the community).

When Michal and I decided to create a business around wikidot.com, this was our vision. It's partly about being far from Silicon Valley, and easy venture capital. But it's more about our belief that in the 21st century, the really long lasting successes - and we can be inspired by projects like Wikipedia and Linux - are about people, not money and not technology. We believe that open source is a better way of making software. We believe that communities are better at solving very large problems than traditional businesses.

I am amazed, no, overwhelmed, by the way we're working together to make Wikidot. This morning we launched a few more template sites and before I had time to grab a coffee, others were already making edits and adding stuff.

Over the years, what will distinguish Wikidot from other wiki farms is the richness of knowledge that we are bringing together. We're at the leading edge of the Wiki 2.0 revolution here and what will emerge are elegantly simple and effective patterns: smooth integration of email, wiki, forum, blog, knowledgebase, workflow, and RSS that scales from tiny 1-man projects to huge thousand-contributor projects.

It's maybe unfair to name specific people but kudos to leiger for his work on the templates project and to tsangk for his package installer. Guys, you are amazing!

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