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Community Innovation

Jimmy_Wales_July_2010_3 (1)We are all very excited to have industry legend Jimmy Wales kick-off our Alfresco Summit 2013 in Barcelona this year and as a preview of what’s to come our community team asked him a few questions.  Here’s some of what you can look forward to next week:

As an entrepreneur, how do you balance two businesses (Wikia and Wikimedia) and  family?

It isn’t easy, but one of the keys for me to has been to step back from being CEO as early as possible in both organizations.  It’s important to realize where my strengths and weaknesses, and day-to-day management is not my strength.  I’m sure I’ll launch a new project at some point, and when I do, I bet that I won’t stay on as CEO for more than a year or two.

What strategies do you use to increase exposure to Wikia?

We often joke that Wikia, ranked #30 on the Internet with more than 100 million monthly users, is “the most popular site you never heard of.”  That’s because it has grown in an organic and grass roots way, steadily year in and year out, rather than through lots of buzz and hype.  (Of course, that’s how Wikipedia grew as well.)

Wikia users write great content and this is naturally discovered by search engines and bloggers and fans of the millions of things that Wikia covers.  This kind of grass roots growth is deeper and more sustainable than a flash in the pan type of site that grows quickly and then loses people’s interest.

What lessons have you learned from the project to build a rich-text editor for Wikipedia?

We’ve relearned some of the oldest lessons in software development.  Release early, release often.  Be realistic and honest with users so that they have appropriate expectations.  Listen to what people don’t like about the new software and fix the most important problems as quickly as possible.

We’re currently in a fast iterative release cycle so that, to the maximum degree possible, we can say that the software is improving on a weekly basis.  If you’ve tried the visual editor in the past and didn’t like it – try it again now.  And if you still don’t like it, try it again next week.

What strategies are you using to increase participation in Wikia Communities? How is that strategy different from your efforts to increase participation at Wikipedia?

At Wikipedia, we are focused as a community on a single clear mission: to create a free encyclopedia in all the languages of the world. At Wikia, we have a broader mission: to build tools to empower collaboration on high quality content of all kinds.  So at Wikia we focus on whatever tools we find the community wants – polls, blogs, video embedding, etc. – and those desires are much more diverse.

Have you bought a Tesla S yet? If no, do you plan to?

While I’m a big fan of Tesla and Elon Musk, I haven’t yet bought a Tesla.  I’m very happy with my Hyundai.

It isn’t too late to join us in Barcelona to see Jimmy’s keynote and hear from our product team, executives, partners and customers.  See you there!

About the author

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts is the Chief Community Officer of Alfresco Software. Jeff has been working with Alfresco since 2005 and has 20 years of content management, document management, and collaboration experience. Jeff wrote the first developer-focused book on Alfresco, the Alfresco Developer Guide, and recently co-authored CMIS & Apache Chemistry in Action. Follow Jeff on his blog at http://ecmarchitect.com.

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