In some non-campaign related news, I thought I'd post some thoughts on Wikinvest, a site that was started by a relation of mine. The concept is to harness the collective power of the masses and apply it to the world of investment, providing an alternative to traditional investment sites such as Yahoo! Finance, Google Finance, Motley fool, TheStreet.com, and so on. Although the site's content is supposed to be thesis driven (they have pages for bulls and bears), its current manifestation is more akin to an encyclopedia focused on companies, their business models, and macro trends currently affecting the markets. More thorough write-ups about the company can be found here, here, and here.
Just some quick commentary on the site, from my perspective.
Things they're getting right:
I think they're doing a pretty good job along a couple of fronts. First, I think the reputation system is pretty good (i.e. better than I've seen at other Wiki's), and could function as a modest incentive to get people to add what they know. Will it stop people from trying to game the system? I'm less confident about that. But still, given that the name of the game is to build critical mass, providing some incentives is far better than providing none.
Second, I think their seed content is a good step in the right direction. To be honest, if the content wasn't as good as it is, I think the site would be DOA. Again, it's a good step, but it still feels incomplete. I think they need to keep building on the seed until they have enough of an audience that it will start building itself.
Third, I haven't seen it yet, but the data tables that they're going to roll out sound like they'll be good. It's an open question as to whether they'll actually work, but if they do, that would be a strong development.
Things to work on:
The chief aim, for now and forever, is to build an audience. Moreover, that needs to be a recurring audience, as opposed to a spiky, one-time audience (e.g. the kind of audience Elfyourself had). Ideally, that audience should be engaged enough that they'll start contributing and take the content-development burden off of the site's editors.
I think the last point should be the key focus. Right now, I think there's enough reasonable content that they might be able to attract users for a bit. But without a focal point of engagement, they won't come back, nor will they contribute. Their current initiative - adding data tables - will make the site more useful to casual visitors, but it strikes me as being yet another piece that they'll have to seed and update until they build critical mass.
Here are some thoughts:
* They should do everything they can to turn their list of contributors into a community. I'd imagine that they should at least have a news feed and forums/discussion boards, rather than their current freeform discussion pages
* They should emulate Wikipedia and funnel visitor contributions towards certain key pages, so as to facilitate more visible development
* They should build on their current reputation system and begin rewarding high-performing contributors in some way
* Structuring an entire post is likely to be too big for a casual visitor. Somehow streamlining this process, or maybe creating a standard template, would make this process go a lot more smoothly