Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Thoughts on Wetpaint

Frank of Frankwatching read what I wrote previously on Socialtext and Jotspot and asked me what my opinion was on Wetpaint. He runs a very popular Dutch blog on digital trends, like blogs, wiki's and Web 2.0. He named Wetpaint his favorite wiki a while ago because of its usability. So I went to their site and sandbox and it is amazing how userfriendly it is. The boys/girls from Jotspot, Socialtext and the Wikipedia can learn something from it! However it is more for use on the internet then on the corporate intranet, since it comes in short there. It also seems they don't want to be in that arena, but try to make it easy for people to have their own wiki's on various subjects and make money from ads on those pages. So here are my thoughts on Wetpaint.

The Good
- Easy user interface. You can explain this to anyone. Wysiwyg done right
- The user interface for uploading pictures is exactly how people would expect it. It works with a popup box that lets you select the picture from your harddisk, upload it and put it in the page.
- Usage of tags can provide valuable meta-information. This is great with large wiki's
- The 'Page Toolbox' gives a good overview of what you can do with a page eg: send, print, edit etc.
- Excellent user page that shows who the user is, with user provided information, their edits etc. This was the one thing I really missed in both Jotspot and Socialtext.
- Nice design of the site and it seems it can be skinned and changed to fit the content. I saw one site on the tv-series Lost that really caught a vibe.

The Bad
- The editing box is too small. It should be page size to encourage people to enter text. If you want to share knowledge you don't want people to feel guilty that they use up more space.
- There are no tables in the wiki. Tables are practical and you can't do without in a corporate environment
- There is no possibility to send e-mail to a page, thereby immediately loosing my vote for the corporate environment. In the corporate environment an e-mail to a page can cut down the e-mail clutter and will be instant sharing of the contents of that mail with the entire company instead of three co-workers.
- It can only be used as a hosted service and there is no possibility to shield it off from the rest of the world. This is logical in their business model, but they could beat a lot of the standard wiki's by offering it in different ways.
- There is no possibility to edit HTML. Now I'm all for ease of use and shielding the normal user from the technical details. However, when there are powerusers, you want to give them the possibility to use the powers they have to improve what they are entering into the wiki. So where I criticized Socialtext for needing to go to advanced (HTML)-mode, I am critiquing these guys for not having one. It should be this way: you should never need it, but should be able to use it.

2 comments:

--Rene. said...

He Raindeer,

I read your wiki-comparison post on Frankwatching. We seem to be working in the same area (I posted a reaction as well). I would like to invite you for a beer (or a nice capucino) to discuss wiki's and intranet 2.0. Since you don't communicate any email address: could you please get in touch with me? You can find contact details on http://winkwaves.com.

Thanks!
--Rene.

Zoli Erdos said...

Hi Raindeer,

Good review, but don't ever lose sight of what a products is meant for. Wetpaint is NOT a corporate wiki; in fact you may notice it's not even marketed as a "wiki". It's a consumer and community-oriented platform that allows interactive, collaborative website creation. It is a wiki under the hood, but with an interesting mix of wiki,blog, and forum - like features. That's all it does, and it's best in that area, but the Wetpaint folks have no desire to enter the corporate market.

Anlong the same lines, since you said you plan to review Central Desktop, bear in mind it is an SME/SMB product - and the demands are very different in large corporations vs very small businesses.