Amazon goes Wiki

I don’t know about you but the Internet has enabled me to be a lot more canny about the purchases that I make. With the aid of such tools as price comparison sites and customer product reviews I am hopefully guided towards buying the right product at the right price.

None of these tools are perfect, with reviews in particular open to abuse by unscrupulous marketing departments and ignorant users, but now it seems that Amazon is preparing to add another weapon to the consumers’ armoury with the appearance of product wikis on its US website.

Wikis are essentially editable websites which rely on the user community to ensure that the content is accurate and balanced. Amazon is looking to take this concept and use wikis to enable consumers to build up detailed descriptions and profiles for products on sale at its website.

Amazon’s ProductWikis were first spotted by a number of US blog sites, notably Church of the Customer Blog. There is, however, some confusion as not everyone is able to see them, suggesting the wikis are a beta product not yet available to all. You can see some screenshots here.

This is a smart move by the ecommerce giant. By getting customers to do the donkey work, Amazon could end up in the position of having a large number of very detailed product descriptions that have the added bonus for consumers of bypassing manufacturers’ traditional marketing spin.

It will be interesting to see how Amazon handles copyright as it would be shame to see Amazon claiming copyright for the work put in by its customers but, then again, can you really see Amazon letting this information be used on a rival website.

Interestingly a group of Canadians also claim to have come up with a similar concept, which ironically is also called ProductWiki.

ProductWikis are another great example of the collaborative power of the web. It is sure to make the job of the corporate spin merchants just that little bit harder and that can only be a good thing.