Can product reviews be done in a wiki? And can they be done better than the regular way of each reviewer having his or her own say? One of the entrepreneurs I spoke with at our Boston MeetUp, Omar Ismail, thinks they can. He is a founder of ProductWiki, based in Waterloo, Ontario. The idea behind ProductWiki is to create collaborative product reviews that boil all the judgments about a product into one single review. It avoids revision wars by requiring every reviewer to list both pros and cons, and then every other ProductWiki reader can vote on each pro and each con until a consensus emerges. Here is a review of the Amazon Kindle, even though it just came out (and perhaps this review is based more on media coverage than actual usage, but it is still decent).
Last week, the site turned on three new features which Ismail hopes will allow him to create the ultimate “product graph” (this is like a social graph for products, showing how products are related or connected to one another). Reviewers can now identify competing or related products, and vote on which ones they like better in a head-to-head, A-B fashion. The third feature is a product rank derived from the first two features. For instance, based on 15 votes, the iRex iLiad beats out both the Kindle and the Sony Reader in the e-book category (so far):
I like the ideas of a product graph and product rank. A true product graph, however, would surface surprising connections. I know the iPod and the Zune are related products, but what about the more tangential connections, like the toaster oven with the iPodish design? That is what I’d like to see.
ProductWiki is another bootstrap startup with three employees (Omar, his sister Amanie, and her husband Erik). It was launched in November, 2005, and has about 15,000 product reviews.