Dispatches From Blogistan

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the book
Dispatches From Blogistan
by suzanne stefanac
peachpit/new riders
voices that matter series
shipping now
> amazon
> barnes & noble
from the book
> table of contents
 
> chapter 2 history of open discourse
 
> chapter 6 history of journalism
 
> 10 blog design tips
 
> what is this long tail?
 
> trackback demystified
 
> blog ethics primer
 
> glossary
 
> resource hotlinks

interviews

> cory doctorow

> farai chideya

> bruce sterling

> denise caruso

> craig newmark

> jamais cascio

> laura lemay

> christian crumlish

> jon lebkowsky

amazon adding product wikis

11.26.05 @ 12:53:56 pacific

Wow. I just read over on the Micro Persuasion blog that Amazon seems to be experimenting with user-editable wikis for product listings. If true, the trick will be in convincing individuals that adding information to product wikis is worth it. If enough do, however, this could seriously change the way many of us make future purchase decisions.

I would imagine that a lot of product managers are quaking in their boots at the idea. Certainly there is the danger that competitors may sabotage each other’s wikis, planting rumors and probing at weak points, but the bigger issue willl revolve around user input. Suddenly complaint desks will sit out in the open for all the world to see. Diplomacy, transparency, and a thick skin may turn out to be much more important qualifications for the job than a PhD in spin.

Too bad the wikis won’t be in place in time for holiday shopping. I’d very much appreciate hearing from other customers that the interface on the camera I’m thinking of sending my mother is too complicated. Like all wikis, however, it will take some time and a great deal of input before the database is truly useful and reliable. Maybe they’ll be ready when I buy her that home gene-splicer next year.




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  1. 11.26.05 @ 01:01:13 pacific

    But what’s to keep these wikis from being gummed up by corporate shills?

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    1. 11.26.05 @ 01:21:49 pacific

      I’m sure there’ll be some of that, David. But I think that people will be able to tell when wiki content is being overrun by corporate speak. If the companies try to drown out user comments and complaints, it seems like it could backfire on them in some pretty tangible ways.

      Who knows? People may not be motivated to publicly record good and bad points for a product or a company and then this will all be moot. But meanwhile, it’s true that user-written product reviews that are somewhat hidden on Amazon are already affecting sales. A more obvious tool like a wiki that incorporates lots of user feedback and that is self-correcting just might have some real potential for defusing some of the spin that current advertising depends on. Of course, I might just be coming down from a tryptophan high after all the turkey this week.

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      1. 11.27.05 @ 03:39:51 pacific

        Interesting. Another interpretation is that there are already huge quantities of consumer commentary online and that Amazon is realizing that it’s in their interest to bring that in-house where possible. Think of the savings in referral fees if 1000 buyers get their info from an Amazon-run wiki page instead of some third-party site with Amazon associate links.

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        1. 11.27.05 @ 04:38:59 pacific

          Excellent point! It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I, for one, wouldn’t mind having a central resource that compiles feedback and tips from various actual users/customers, but I hadn’t thought about the referral issue. I wonder if this might give rise to competing wikis?


        comments

          comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

        1. But what’s to keep these wikis from being gummed up by corporate shills?

        2. comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
        3. suzanne says:

          I’m sure there’ll be some of that, David. But I think that people will be able to tell when wiki content is being overrun by corporate speak. If the companies try to drown out user comments and complaints, it seems like it could backfire on them in some pretty tangible ways.

          Who knows? People may not be motivated to publicly record good and bad points for a product or a company and then this will all be moot. But meanwhile, it’s true that user-written product reviews that are somewhat hidden on Amazon are already affecting sales. A more obvious tool like a wiki that incorporates lots of user feedback and that is self-correcting just might have some real potential for defusing some of the spin that current advertising depends on. Of course, I might just be coming down from a tryptophan high after all the turkey this week.

        4. comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
        5. Paul says:

          Interesting. Another interpretation is that there are already huge quantities of consumer commentary online and that Amazon is realizing that it’s in their interest to bring that in-house where possible. Think of the savings in referral fees if 1000 buyers get their info from an Amazon-run wiki page instead of some third-party site with Amazon associate links.

        6. comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
        7. suzanne says:

          Excellent point! It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I, for one, wouldn’t mind having a central resource that compiles feedback and tips from various actual users/customers, but I hadn’t thought about the referral issue. I wonder if this might give rise to competing wikis?

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