Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"Please Praise Us"

“PBwiki makes creating a wiki as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich”

Or so I'm told. In truth, I have some elderly relatives who might disagree. But at the same time, I find making a wiki using PBWiki easier than making a sandwich. Goes to show what I know.

The existence of this post is a result of one of the strangest "free lunch" deals I've ever been offered. The basic gist is this: if you have a basic wiki created with PBWiki, they will double your storage space if you blog about them, providing constructive feedback of some sort (including criticism). There isn't any indication (at leas thusfar) that they actually want to provide the links of people who *have* done it, so I have a theory: they are trying to bribe people into Googlebombing their service.

The premise is simple. Let's say I provide a link, like this one: "PBWiki". Google's algorithmic minions will presumably crawl across that link sooner or later and log it. Since Google's pageranking system is based on number of sites that link to a particular page, weighted by "seniority" (older domains get a bias because they're less likely to be spammish), PBWiki is going to get lots and lots of links to their page, which should substantially increase their visibility in Google and similar search engines.

Of course, this might be an overly complex idea - the immediate effect is that the one reader for every fifty blogs in existence will stumble upon one (perhaps even two!) references to PBWiki that indicate that it is effortless to set up and free (things that go a long way on the Internet *cough*gmail*cough*). This brings us to the question of the cost: if they have capacity to spare and are seeking an audience, this is a winning formula. If, however, they have some nefarious "for King Dollar" angle on this, it might end up being bad for end-users. So far, PBWiki doesn't show any signs of being evil, but one can never be sure.

This is, I think, the latest manifestation of the Internet's increasingly defuse, decentralized nature. The mammoths that defined the web in it's early days (AOL, Yahoo, Prodigy, and other services I can't even recall) are increasingly being replaced by mercurial (Google), scrappy (Firefox), and "Free Like Beer" (Wikipedia) endeavors. With the Wikexplosion well underway, we're now seeing acts of "collective satire" like the Uncyclopedia and The Elemenstor Saga, a process by which comedy is being built collectively, by consensus.

Linus Torvalds famously said, "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." This philosophy has broken into the net's mainstream, with a growing trend towards "a tool for every job" rather than "a single swiss army knife for everyone," as I imagine Microsoft would like things. Frankly, it's rather refreshing.


Blogger Ramit Sethi said...

Nothing so nefarious. We just want help spreading the word from our happy users. And if they're not happy, we want to know how we can improve.

Co-founder, PBwiki

6:34 PM  
Blogger Autochon said...

Happy to hear it. Keep up the good work.

5:20 PM  

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