For my Entrepreneurship class, we were required to present on a fairly recent company that ended up being a “hit” and identify how they were “Different in What Matters” (DWM). I nominated Twitter, but my group wanted to do it on Wikipedia, so I conceded, we split up the parts and I designed the powerpoint below:
From the Wikipedia page about Wikipedia, it is a “free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation”. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t) the Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages several collaborative wikis, including WikiBooks, WikiSource, WikiNews, Wikiversity, etc. There are millions of articles that are all written by volunteers.
At this point, I shared WikipediaVision, a tracker of Wikipedia edits across the globe in (almost) real-time, to illustrate that anyone, anywhere, edits Wikipedia articles:
I thought it was somewhat amusing that I had tweeted this website just a couple of days beforehand, so you may have already heard, but I was told of WikipediaVision by a teacher that said he would just sit and watch it when he was bored.
Anyway, I mentioned that Wikipedia was a great example of crowdsourcing, which is outsourcing to a community of people, or in this case, the world. Anyone with access can edit this information and aid in the compilation of knowledge. I also said that research shows that the wisdom of crowds will come up with the best possible solution or answer. However, it is a double-edged sword, because while Wikipedia is an open call to information, it also means it is susceptible to possible vandalism.
From here I passed it over to my classmates, who went over trends and gaps that Wikipedia filled in the market industry, leading to its success. They talked about target audiences, competitors, and how Wikipedia was DWM. From there we each discussed what we would do as CEO of Wikipedia to further promote it’s success.
Personally, as CEO, I would promote the benefits of crowdsourcing. The Wikimedia Foundation currently takes a neutral stance on the accuracy of it’s information, which I agree is a smart idea. However, I don’t think it would be detrimental to push to others how amazing this service is and what it is doing. Knowledge from the masses, all over the globe, is being compiled into a singe resource for others to use. I think that alone is quite an amazing feat! Maybe it would awe others enough to donate more. 🙂
After our presentation, the class discussed other ways the Wikimedia Foundation could make money. One possible solution that was mentioned was to charge the public to use or edit Wikipedia. This obviously wouldn’t facilitate the same amount of crowdsourcing being accomplished but leaves an interesting point: How much would you pay if you could edit something and maybe, get credit for it on the website? Do you think the Wikimedia Foundation could earn a decent profit from charging people to use it? Would you pay to use it?
So many people rely on Wikipedia for quick information already; I can’t see a small subscription charge being too horrible. In other words, as crude as this may sound, it’s already captured its user base. Why not exploit it?