Amazon rolls out wikis

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While browsing through Amazon’s site, I’ve just noticed that they’ve added wiki functionality to each of their product description pages. Here’s what Amazon is recommending users should put in the wiki:

Think of a Wiki as an encyclopedia entry that everyone who comes to the page will read. You should put in relevant factual information that you believe will be of value to others who visit the page. A Wiki is not the place to express your opinion; that’s what Customer Reviews and Customer Discussions are for. As always, please treat the Amazon community with respect by not writing inappropriate or off-topic comments.

There isn’t any information in most of the wikis I looked at yet but this is potentially a great resource for customers to pool information and share knowledge. And another example of how consumer companies are losing control over the very facts about their products. The wikis aren’t for opinion – they’re for facts gathered by the Amazon community. So that might be information about overheating, component failure rates, noise levels etc which would not normally form part of the product data sheet.

Amazon may have been doing this for a while, but I’ve also noticed that the company is encouraging customers to submit product shots.

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I discussed this yesterday with the Xbox 360 screen shots generated by customers. Here’s another example of how you can’t spin the visuals with lighting or post production. This facility will show authentic, real-life product use. As these technologies open products for deep scrutiny and the market becomes more transparent, firms must ensure they are being truthful with their customers and themselves. if the product doesn’t work as well as described, don’t fool yourself into thinking no-one will notice. At Amazon, the marketplace really is enabling the conversation between buyers.

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