[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed May 9 17:58:51 UTC 2007

Erik Moeller wrote:
> On 5/9/07, Robert Horning <robert_horning at netzero.net> wrote:
>> Other than the fact that projects like Wikibooks have already
>> established a brand identity of its own.  Not only among Wikibooks
>> users, but also within the general academic community (for good or
>> ill).  I'm not suggesting here that the brand isn't weaker than
>> Wikipedia
> About 1/200th as weak if Google Scholar results are any indication. I
> don't mean to denigrate the fantastic efforts of the Wikibooks
> community by any means. I love the project and try to promote it at
> every opportunity. But, compared to the Wikipedia juggernaut, it _is_
> virtually unknown. I think there is a wonderful opportunity for
> Wikibooks to benefit from the awareness about WP -- and those who are
> already aware of the name will easily readjust to "Wikipedia
> Textbooks" (or "Wikipedia" + anything else), as virtually everyone who
> has heard of Wikibooks knows Wikipedia. Those who are surprised that
> the projects are related: well, they'd have learned something
> important.
I think you are mistaken at the extent that Wikibooks is recognized 
independently of Wikipedia.  While certainly Wikipedia does get much 
more press and comment, there have been independent journal articles and 
blog (outside of the "wikiblogosphere") commentaries about Wikibooks.  
Reviews of individual Wikibooks have also been mentioned, particular on 
those topics which have been rather well developed.  I'm also curious 
about what metric you are using to suggest that "everyone who has heard 
of Wikibooks knows Wikipedia".  I know for a fact that there are many 
individuals who contribute to Wikibooks that have never made an edit on 
Wikipedia, and often it is their very first time at using a Wiki of any 
kind.  My metric is the interaction I've had with users by being a local 
administrator on en.wikibooks and participating on the other language 
editions of Wikibooks.  French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, 
Polish and German editions of Wikibooks also all have very active 
communities and even interact with each other on a fairly substantial 
level as well, as well as participants on the other 40 or so other 
active Wikibook projects.

As I've tried to mention on previous posts, Wikibooks is by far and away 
the largest independent e-book website on the internet, at least if you 
compare sites with Alexa.  It is has more hits than Project Gutenberg, 
or even most comercial e-book websites.  The only numbers I can't 
compare to are websites like Microsoft and Adobe, where breaking out the 
stats for just e-books pages is just a shot in the dark.  And frankly 
Wikibooks has stumbled upon this status in a very haphazard fashion with 
nearly nobody on the board level even noticing.

You can compare site rankings about e-books here:


I would call that a brand worth trying to keep.  While this may also be 
an indictment on e-book in general (or the lack of popularity of e-book 
in any format), Wikibooks is clearly at the top of the game in this 
category.  This isn't to say that there aren't problems on Wikibooks 
that need to be fixed, but you can't find any website that offers free 
e-books (as in beer or copyleft) that even comes close to what Wikibooks 
does right now.  The only real "competition" is Wikisource and the 
Gutenberg Project, which Wikibooks tries to maintain cordial 
relationships with members of both of those communities as well.

Sure, compared to Wikipedia it is small fry, but compared to most other 
websites it has a demographic and draw that most for profit coporations 
would kill for.  It certainly has more visitors and a bigger audience 
than most Linux distros, if you want to make a comparison to other sorts 
of collaborative projects.

In general terms for user innovation and involvement on the projects, I 
would rank them as such:

Wikipedia > Commons > Wiktionary > Wikinews > Wikiversity > Wikibooks > 
Wikisource > Wikiquote >>> Wikispecies (substantially down the list).  
You could argue about the placement of the various sister projects 
projects in terms of user involvement, and I would consider most of the 
sister projects except for Wiktionary and Wikipedia to be roughly 
identical in terms of user involvement and activity with some 
differences mainly due to the nature of each project.  Page counts would 
give some slightly different rankings as would other metrics, but I 
would question page ranks as a conclusive comparison between the various 

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