Wetpaint has added a slew of social networking features to its drop dead easy to use wiki. Amont the new features are:
- Friends Network: Wetpaint users can now connect with one another through friend invitations
- Custom Member Profiles: Each site can have its own custom profile templates for members to share interests and information with the community.
- Compliments: Members can send compliments to other members. This serves as a reward mechanism through which people are encouraged to continue adding to the wiki.
- Enhanced Member Directory: Quickly search and sort through member profiles to discover determine who are the most prolific contributers and who are the most recent joiners.
- What’s New Dashboard: An at-a-glance overview of most recent page, comment and member updates.
- To-Dos: Flag up pages that need updating or review, request additional information or illustrations with simple workflow.
- Friend Feeds: Stay up to date with your friends on the site by getting reports on their latest activity and contributions.
- Promote My Site wizard: A wizard that helps promote the site by indicating how attractive the site is to new members and search engines, and offers guidance for improvements.
I spoke with Ben Elowitz, Wetpaint's CEO about how the enhancements might be used by business. "We are not trying to be an internal, behind the firewall style of wiki, we're more useful for external facing sites like HP's Home and Office Printing Wiki." Oracle uses Wetpaint for its developer wiki which now has more than 4,000 members. According to Elowitz, Amazon has been using Wetpaint regularly to help organize developer tours: "They literally have no work to do other than push out an invitation and people come and say what they need. It's a neat way to create a user driven event," says Elowitz.
Adding social features to what is already an easy to use wiki makes a lot of sense, even though this may appear to take the service in a more consumer facing direction. Wetpaint is showing that wiki doesn't have to be restricted to the more common inward facing use found in business but can have an active and valuable role in outward facing roles.
I was particularly struck by the 'helper' style add-ons that allow users to loookup the correct term or description of something that already exists within the wiki. This is something that gets missed in other systems where the notion of free tagging can lead to unwieldy folksonomies.
In adding social features Wetpaint has made the step beyond 'pure' wiki that will allow it to become popular among those businesses that want to create community around topics that might be of interest but which have so far found it difficult to engage users without an army of dedicated champions. Consumer goods is an obvious example but industries like healthcare and travel should find Wetpaint of value. At a starting price of $10,000 for brand customizations, it's almost a no brainer.