Matt Marshall, who recently reported that SocialText had raised additional funding from SAP, also quotes Ross Mayfield on why the Los Angeles Times’ experiment with (group written and edited) wikitorials failed. Mayfield is CEO of SocialText.
The public nature of the LA Times project is slightly off-point
from Mayfield’s core corporate focus. But had the Times developed the
product more prudently, allowing in a few interested users in a test
mode, perhaps behind a firewall, it could have generated a trusted
community that would have had a stake in participating and editing,
Mayfield explains. And perhaps this group of buy-in readers, once
developed, would have quickly editing out the offensive pornographic
references that eventually caused a quick backlash against the project.
And if the community failed to edit out the porn reference quickly
enough, and members of the greater readership protested, the Times
could have simply wiped its hands of responsibility, saying it was the
job of the interested community to keep up the site. It may have also
argued that the wiki should be maintained precisely because there was
an interested community that supported it. But instead, it was just the
LA Times vs. everybody else — and it died.
Jeff Nolan of SAP comments on the investment.
When I first started talking about wikis the conversation typically
started and ended on what wikis are, and quite often more than a little
skepticism that any company would want to have a tool that enabled
"anyone to edit anything". Fast forward to today and the conversation
is not preoccupied with what wikis are, it’s now about whether or not
you can build a successful business around wiki technology. To me this
shift is a good thing, it signifies that the market is maturing,
accepting the technology, and most important that Socialtext was
successful in being far enough ahead of the market swing but not too
far ahead to have people say "oh yeah, they’ve been around for a long
time". It’s funny how the Valley works…