Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zillow Real Estate Wiki: Why We Need Editors

The Zillow Real Estate Wiki is a good idea. But it's also an example of why a wiki might work best in a closed system. Zillow's intent is to create a comprehensive resource for home buyers by letting everyone contribute, but the result is more like a combination resource guide/marketing tool/crap sandbox. They need professional, dedicated editors.

Looking through the A-Z list there are many entries that are simply place names, for instance "Illinois." Click on it and at present you get nothing. I'm not sure what I'd expect to find by clicking on "Illinois" but I would expect to find something. Someone obviously created an entry and then got bored or wasn't sure what to do next.

Another entry is called "Az Realtor." As you might guess, some realtor in Arizona decided to get some free marketing. Very altruistic of them.

So while I am a fan of wikis in general, I am also a fan of good editing and content approval. Wikipedia has a strong editorial component, which I've encountered when attempting to change my company's listing. It was annoying, but I ultimately respected the fact that the editor wanted to make sure everything was kosher. Zillow needs that kind of editorial commitment and then the might have something.


1 comment:

Drew Meyers said...

Hey -
It's Drew from Zillow here.

You are certainly correct in mentioning that our long term goal is to create a comprehensive resource - but not just for home buyers. Over time, we are aiming to build a resource center for every topic related to real estate, such as investing, RE blogging, and home improvement. For a little more information about our goals, please take a look at our Wiki Guidelines Changes post on Zillow Blog (http://www.zillowblog.com/zillow_blog/2007/02/wiki_guideline_.html)

You make an excellent point about the value of editorial control in a wiki - I agree with you that increased editorial control will be necessary to create a truly useful resource. However, I do want to mention that building a team of dedicated volunteer editors takes time - Wikipedia didn't happen overnight.

Just FYI - I've deleted the pages you mentioned as not being useful. We'll step up our efforts to keep the marketing messages out of the wiki. If you are skimming through the wiki in the future and see something that appears to be self-promotion - please flag the page and we will remove the content.

Thank you for your valuable feedback.