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Posted by: Rob Hof on November 22, 2005 doesn’t blab about it much, but it clearly gets the Web 2.0 Power of Us participatory thing. For years, it has had customer book reviews, customer-produced product lists called Listmania, product photo uploads, and something called Purchase Circles, which indicate what products are popular in various locations and companies. (UPDATE: Oops, forgot two other new participatory activities still in beta: customer discussions and tagging.)

Now, it has wikis, those editable Web sites made most famous by the online reference source Wikipedia. ProductWikis are pages—seemingly on most every product already!—that customers can edit. Clearly, from the explanation, it’s adhering to Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View ethic, leaving opinions to customer reviews.

Here’s what else I find interesting about ProductWikis, from Amazon’s explanation:

You can view how a particular Wiki entry has changed over time, to see who has contributed what and when, and you can subscribe to be notified by email of any future updates to Wikis you are interested in. … A list of Wikis you have contributed to appears on your Your Amazon Home and Profile pages.

So Amazon’s gradually allowing you, along with your Wish List, your purchases, your clickstream, and, if you sell anything on Amazon, how good your reputation is—to build up a pretty detailed database of what you like (or don’t) and what’s important to you. I don’t know what Amazon will do with this—fortunately, it seems to have a pretty light touch with how it uses what it knows about you—or what it will allow us to do with all this data. But as it grows, it could become a pretty powerful profile.

Here’s hoping Amazon will give us the means to control access to that profile and, ideally, use it throughout the Web to get what we really want, and avoid what we don’t.

Tip of the hat to Ben McConnell at Church of the Customer blog, who apparently saw these first.

Reader Comments


November 23, 2005 8:54 AM

Unlike Wikipedia though, I bet they don't license their gathered material under a copyleft license that would allow people to reuse their
contributions without needing Amazon's permission.

Emil Sotirov

November 25, 2005 6:20 PM

Seems like a natural evolution from user reviews... to full user engagement in product descriptions and updates... and probably all kinds of conversations about the products.

Everybody sees immediately Amazon gathering rich customer profiles... for all kinds of clever marketing purposes.

I see however a huge amount of user generated content exposed directly to the search engines... achieving the best possible matching of search (intentions) with product information... through the original (unmediated)words of the customers themselves. No need for any marketing analysis, segmentations, targeting, advertising... nothing. It will work by itself.


November 26, 2005 8:49 AM

Individuals' control of their preferences is what we all want and should require. We should be looking for a 'usercentric' not a 'vendorcentric' model to express and transact our preferences.

Steve Magruder

November 26, 2005 11:22 AM

As long as Amazon doesn't allow anonymous contributions, and people's wikichanges can be peer-rated in a way that is made public, both so people don't come in to do destructive edits w/o consequences, then this is a good idea.


February 11, 2006 4:27 PM

This idea sounds a lot like - but this wiki is only for electronics.

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