AboutUs Lets You Describe The Web - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
11/15/2006
02:06 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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AboutUs Lets You Describe The Web

AboutUs is a Wiki designed to allow people to write comments about other Web sites. It currently contains listings for 3 million sites, the vast majority populated by whois records, with related links and a Google Map added for each page. Intriguing idea, but I fear it's the kind of thing that needs a critical mass to become useful, and needs to be useful before it ac

AboutUs is a Wiki designed to allow people to write comments about other Web sites. It currently contains listings for 3 million sites, the vast majority populated by whois records, with related links and a Google Map added for each page. Intriguing idea, but I fear it's the kind of thing that needs a critical mass to become useful, and needs to be useful before it accumulates a critical mass.

I checked out the entry for InformationWeek. I can't vouch for the accuracy of everything there, though I don't see anything particularly offensive. The description seems to be a cut-and-paste from our About Us page. I don't recognize the name of the person listed as a contact; I'm guessing he's the person listed as the contact on our domain registration.

I can see a lot of potential for this. Let's say I'm looking up medical information. I see some interesting stuff on a Web site somewhere -- but I've never heard of that site. Is the information good, or bogus? I go to Aboutus to see what other people say about that site.

Similarly, let's say I'm buying a laptop computer. I decide on the make and model, and I've done some searching around and found a great price for secondhand units. But I never heard of the site that's making the sale. Is it reputable? Go to Aboutus to find out.

Similarly: I find a site that contains some great info about a political issue I've been interested in. But what's the bias of the site's publishers? Aboutus could tell me.

However, Aboutus will only be able to do those things if people use Aboutus. And people won't use it unless it can already do those things. That's a Catch-22 that's common with a lot of Web 2.0 projects, like Wikipedia, Digg, and MySpace. They're not useful until a lot of people use them, and a lot of people won't use them until they're useful. Clearly, many sites have been able to overcome that Catch-22; we'll see if AboutUs does.

There's already other ways to do some of the things that Aboutus can potentially do -- blogs, Wikipedia, creating an alternate Web site, comments on Web sites -- but they all have limitations.

The underlying software is MediaWiki, the same software used on Wikipedia, which gives AboutUs the same look and functionality as Wikipedia.

Here's the AboutUs page for AboutUs

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