As has been written about on Radar and Read/Write Web, Amazon has started embracing wikis on their site and in their investments. They have upped the stakes with the release of Amapedia yesterday. Taking the place of the stunted ProductWiki, they now have a very robust site (and Java wiki platform) that allows users to create and tag their own product articles. The articles are directly linked from their Amazon product pages. I met with Martin Frank and Wally Tseng of Amazon last week and got a sneak peek of the site.
Amapedia is very tag focused. They can be used for searching, navigating, and comparing. There are two different types of tags fact tags (very similar to Flickr’s new machine tags – Radar Post) and category tags )such as Real-Time Strategy Games). The fact tags are name:value pairs such as Number of Factions. Most articles when only have a couple of category tags; they are supposed to answer the question “What is this?“. So the Wii has the Video Game Console category tag and have fact tags that include Batteries Required. The tags are especially useful on the comparison page (sample) where each one becomes its own row in the table. When editing an article Amapedia will suggest fact tags based on the category tag so that similar items can be compared on the same criteria.
It launched with approximately 800 internally created articles and 5000 articles that were ported over from the previous version. As you click-thru the site you will quickly realize just how empty it is and how many fact & category tags have not been filled in yet. Try playing with the random article functionality to take a spin through the site. The article pages are very nicely crafted. The tags are on the left. The article text and images take up the majority of the page.
The Terms of Service are the same as Amazon reviews; Amazon owns them, but you are able to use your own content elsewhere. That’s simple to manage with reviews, but wiki content can change rapidly and it is potentially to as clear what is one person’s words. Though there are none today, they hope to have webservices so that developers and users can consume the data in the future.
Will users be willing to put effort into a corporate wiki of this magnitude that doesn’t currently have a clear way to share the data? I think that it won’t prove to be an issue at first (being on an Amazon product page is going to provide a lot of traffic), but that its growth and acceptance will increase if they provide access.
Update: Corrected a name above