WetPaint, the Wiki-less Wiki

Recently I wrote: “You Know Wikis Have Arrived When …. they become the feature post in your regular junk mail – this time from an Executive Recruiter firm:
What in the World is a “Wiki”? If you don’t know what a Wiki is, you probably should

Well, maybe you shouldn’t. Let me rephrase the original statement: Wikis have arrived when …you don’t even have to know what they are to use one. You don’t have to know you’re using a wiki, just happily type away, creating shareable content on the Web. This just became possible on Monday, with the launch of WetPaint, a hosted free service that combines the best of wikis, blogs, and forum software.

  • It’s like a wiki: you can create any number of pages, arrange them in a hierarchy, navigate through top-down in a tree fashion, or via direct links between pages. Anyone can edit any page a’la wiki (optionally pages can be locked, too). There is version control, audit track of changes and previous releases can be restored at a single click.
  • It’s like a discussion forum: you can have threaded/nested comments attached to each page
  • It’s like a blog: editable area in the middle, sidebars on both sides with tags and other info.

The launch created quite some interest: TechCrunch profiled Wetpaint, and several bloggers say it’s the best wiki platform ever. I respectfully disagree. There is no such thing as a “best wiki” – there are only “best” tools for specific purposes. Here are a few examples:

Confluence and Socialtext are both Enterprise Wiki’s , robust, well-supported, targeting corporate customers. Clearly not end-user products.
JotSpot is more geared towards smaller businesses and consumers and in fact it’s a mix of a wiki plus a few basic applications. I still had to watch the demo videos before getting started though.
Central Desktop is a “wiki without the wiki”, more of a full-featured collaboration platform with calendar, task, project ..etc features for small companies.

Yet I couldn’t have used any of the above platforms for setting up the Techdirt Greenhouse wiki, the online space supporting the recent successful “unconference”. Why? We needed the simplest possible site that’ so easy to use that anyone can get started without even a minute of training. WetPaint (in closed beta at the time) was simply the only choice:: easy-to-use, yet powerful, a platform that allows anyone to contribute to the website in minutes, without any training, or even reading help.

Forget wiki. WetPaint is a wiki-less wiki. It’s the most user-friendly self-publishing tool that allows anyone to create a site and transform it into an online community. Don’t take my word for it though: the proof is the 3000+ sites that were set up in the 3 days since the launch. That probably includes people who have not had a site before, and some who moved, like Mike:

I’m moving from the current Wiki (based on Mediawiki which runs the beloved yet always under fire Wikipedia) to a new Wiki doo-fangle called Wetpaint. Why? Coz it’s a gazzilion times easier to use and I like it.” Well said.

Here’s what Yule says: “I just started a wiki – my first ever… Blame WetPaint – couldn’t resist starting this up.”

Check out samples of WetPaint sites, then it’s your turn to create your own… I will soon be launching mine.


  1. Anonymous says

    WetPaint is neat. WetPaint is cool.

    WetPaint is a reinvention of GeoCities.

    I don’t see any business here.

  2. Anonymous says

    Really? Since when can I edit your Geocities site?

    You can find business in the most surprising places … even at a site called nobusiness 🙂

  3. Anonymous says

    Hi Zoli — have you found a fast way to link pages together like all other wikis do (by just typing the name and clicking ‘link’) — it seems you have to click ‘link’ then ‘browse’ then ‘select’.. pretty tedious!

    That said, I agree, WetPaint is a mighty achievement in other ways. Its WYSIWYG stuff is way more stable than Socialtext for instance.

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