Wetpaint Emerging As A Leading Social Publishing Platform

Seattle based wiki startup Wetpaint has always been ahead of the pack in terms of design and usability. Now, a couple of years after launch, they’re starting to see real usage traction as well.

The product isn’t just about wikis – they also have social features (profiles, friends, etc.), and added things like forums and, more recently, photo uploads, over time. In many ways they are more like Ning, which allows users to create social networks easily, than other pure wiki sites like Wikia.

The company has raised just $14.8 million in capital. Compare that to $104 million for Ning. But in terms of user adoption, the two are much more similar.

Comscore says Ning had 3.8 million monthly unique visitors in March, compared to 3 million for Wetpaint. Wetpaint says they now have 900,000 wiki sites and are adding 2,000 more per day – Ning has just 263,000 social networks. Wetpaint says they also have 3 million pages of content.

Ning’s traffic as reported by Comscore is still way above Wetpaint’s – 90 million monthly page views v. 18 million. But Wetpaint also allows users to put wikis under their own domain names, for free (Ning also allows this but charges a monthly fee). Most of Wetpaint’s biggest sites are under custom domains, they say, so a lot of their traffic isn’t reported by Comscore. They are probably still a lot smaller than Ning in terms of page views, but they are growing rapidly nonetheless.

Wetpaint has 70 sponsored sites now – wikis created by or for partners to promote specific brands or events. One example: HP has a community wiki on Wetpaint. Another: Showtime hosts wikis for all of their shows, like this one for The Tudors.

Given Ning’s success in raising capital and growing the number of networks on their platform, it isn’t surprising to see Wetpaint position themselves against them. Part of what makes Wetpaint different from other social networking sites, says CEO Ben Elowitz, is that people gather there under niche communities and do more than just share photos or videos – they create content around the things they are passionate about.

Wetpaint is also working on some other projects – including an embeddable wiki product called Project Balco, which we wrote about earlier this year – but won’t disclose many details yet.