Wikimania 2007 talk: “WikiHow case study”

“Challenges in a growing wiki : The wikiHow case study” by Jack Herrick (Wikihow founder). Link to talk’s page.

Things people do on the Internet, top 3, in decreasing order:

  • Research buying things
  • Read the news
  • Find out how to do things

Get good feedback from people using their site (showed some feedback messages).

Wikihow started Jan 15 2005 (Wikipedia was Jan 15 2001). By the end of May had:

  • 700 articles
  • 13 active editors

Travis is the engineer.

First article – “how to ride the elevator”. :-)

Jan 2006:

  • 9000 articles
  • 162 active editors.
  • Quality standards rising.

Jan 2007:

  • 15000 articles
  • 250 active editors
  • Existing admins redefine who should become an admin

June 2007:

  • 20000 articles
  • 522 active editors
  • 40 admins

Things want to improve in wikihow

  • more languages
  • more articles. Don’t have red links so much.

Doing okay on:

  • traffic
  • Equality on gender participation
  • Hand patrol every edit.

Wikihow works towards making editing wiki editing easier. Have tried to solve the licensing of uploaded images. Built a tool/extension that links into flickr. Shows the acceptably licensed images based on a search term, and with a click will upload these to Wikihow, and add all the right licensing information. Have written the extension for this. Would like to see this extension or something like it enabled on Wikimedia Commons. (Q: Is this extension in SVN? Update: thanks to Tgr – Yes, it’s the ImportFreeImages extension ).
Also use templates for entering information.

For-profit wikis: Good or evil?

  • Have advertising, which is the biz model & how they pay for everything.
  • Registered users = No ads
  • Anon users = Get ads, but they are minimal
  • This blended approach seems to work okay.

This is how Silicon Valley views user-generated content: Showed Evan P’s crowd sourcing slide.

Showed the wikihow biz philosophy:

  • A community service 1st, and a biz second.
  • Let go.
  • Go slow.
  • Build community.
  • Share it.

Other things:

  • Will try hiring someone for the German wikihow site, because it’s not growing organically. This is a seeding process.
  • Trying to create a for-profit company focussed on a public good.
  • If their biz model works, then it will be a good example for other wikis.
  • Wikihow is forkable. Right to fork both the source code ad the content of the wiki. Thinks this changes behaviour in a very positive way.
  • Have modified MediaWiki quite heavily. Source code available.
  • Have not faced any lawsuits yet, Lawyers have told them there are no problems until get much bigger. (e.g.: 10 times larger).
  • Q: do you feel any pressure to share profits? A: There are sites that pay people to create content currently. However does not think that paying volunteers will wreck the whole concept of wiki content creation. Totally different dynamic between work (I’m working on this to get my points to make a buck), versus “I am creating this for fun and for good”.
  • Interwiki linking is there, but it hardly every gets used.
  • Want to get a WSYIWIG editor happening. Thinks the Wikipedia is too hard to edit. E.g. only 10% of folks can figure out wiki syntax. But 100% of the people should be able to contribute. E.g. The WYSIWYG stuff from Wikia or FCKeditor. Will try both of these and see how they work.
  • Suggested license for starting a wiki: CC-BY-SA. Used a difference Creative Commons license and has sometimes slightly regretted this (used the non-commercial CC license?).

3 thoughts on “Wikimania 2007 talk: “WikiHow case study”

  1. Very very interesting. Seeing the progress of this Wiki case study.

    I think this is all very new still (the idea of using a Wiki instead of other platforms such as blog)

    I started my own Wiki so I have somewhere for linking to definitions of “things”. Since the whole blogoshpere is now obessed with who is a spammer, and not a spammer, and the proliferation of nofollow tags, we may as well link to our own domain when requiring further information on a product.

    I can see all these new Wiki’s trying to get attention and grow their own private army of editors and contributors. The commercialization of Wiki world is before us…


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