The Wiki Model – Next Big Wave?

There is an interesting article this morning at about making money from Wiki. What is a Wiki? It’s kinda like Open Source content building. The best example of a Wiki site is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written collaboratively by many of its readers. It uses a special type of website, called a wiki, that makes collaboration easy. Lots of people are constantly improving Wikipedia, making thousands of changes an hour, all of which are recorded on article histories and recent changes.

Wikipedia is operated by a nonprofit foundation, and as such has no interest in making profit. That’s really too bad because the site can make millions if they ever decide to put some Google ads on it. Then again, the original concept of Wiki wasn’t a commercial one. However, this has not stopped a new breed of advertising-based Wiki sites from starting up. The article profiles one such money making Wiki.

In 2004, Herrick acquired the how-to guide, which featured articles written by paid freelance writers. Although the business made a profit, he realized that the revenue brought in by selling advertising would not support the extensive site he had in mind. “If the page were about how to get a mortgage, it would work,” he said. “But the idea was to be the how-to guide to everything.”

So in January 2005 he started wikiHow, a how-to guide built on the same open-source software as Wikipedia, which lets anyone write and edit entries in a collaborative system. To his surprise he found that many of the entries generated by Internet users–free–were more informative than those written by freelancers.

The Wiki model seems almost ideal for net entrepreneurs – the barriers of entry are extremely low and the writers work for free! How great is that? wikiHow is just one example of a successful commercial Wiki site (1.1 million visitors in July according to Nielsen/NetRatings). There is ShopWiki, for product reviews, and Wikitravel, for tourism advice, and the list goes on.

It’s highly doubtful that any Wiki will ever become as big as Wikipedia (16th biggest site on the net), but you don’t need that level of traffic to make a very good living at this. The Wiki business model is definitely something every netrepreneurs should keep an eye on.