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Niche Wikis - Building a Destination Site

Posted on 2.12.2007
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Wiki sites are gaining momentum and power. They are interactive, trusted and, for some, hours of entertainment. Perhaps it's the opportunity to be heard/published on the Web? Or maybe it's the trust factor - would you rather take advice from a fellow user with nothing to gain or a PR company trying to please a client? Does the power lie in the masses? Who holds more expertise on a local restaurant - 1,000 neighbors who have dined there 1,000 times or one "expert" critic who ate there once?

Whatever the reasons, Wikis are white hot. And niche Wikis - those sites addressing a very specified subject matter - are creating destination sites that users consult on a regular basis for trusted, up-to-date information. And what could be better than making your site the go-to place for your industry?

A good example of a site using this medium to their advantage is ActiveCaptain.com. ActiveCaptain is building a database with information supplied by their target audience - boating enthusiasts. Visit their "On The Water" page and pick your destination on the map. Zoom in and see markings of marinas, harbors, yacht clubs, etc. Read about them, rate them and add new information. Information about any one destination includes dockage, services available, nearby restaurants, typical tides, water depths and much, much more. It's all user-generated and available for instant updates. According to their site, ActiveCaptain has registered more than 1,000 users in just three weeks. They also are working on a mobile feature - allowing boaters to access the site from their bows and sterns.

There's no doubting that user-generated content is going to continue to revolutionize how we get our information. Adding a Wiki component can do a great deal towards making your site a destination in your industry or niche. Instead of trying to be the expert on your subject, consider turning it over to the real experts - your audience.

To see what a wiki may be able to do for you, check out these sites: PeanutButterWiki, BrainKeeper, WetPaint, SocialText.

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