By Chris Cardinal
On July 7th, 2008
From time to time, we like to survey the tech community around us and see who else swims in our pond. Our clients are from all over the country (nay, the world!) and while we’re “competitors,” there is *plenty* of work to go around. Plus, we’ve found that sharing our experiences and making friends only helps us better ourselves and each other.
That said, one of our competitors has attempted one of the stupider things I’ve seen online: a MediaWiki-based corporate website. I’m not one to typically outright pan those in the same space online; we all do dumb things from time to time. But this just seems righteously boneheaded to me.
Intrigo is a web development company in Tucson. They service mostly small businesses and startups. And their corporate website is a Wiki that anyone can edit. Without creating an account or logging in or anything.
I’m really not sure if this represents an attempt by them to a) appear open, b) save time and money, c) force themselves to WASTE time checking the site for spam revisions every day or d) appear “meta” by being a “web design” company with a shitty site…
Here’s what I’m struggling to grasp: All of the “dude, they’re SO ‘outside of the box’ on this, don’t you get it?” arguments fall flat. Intrigo gains absolutely no value by opening up their site like this. Not convinced? Let’s examine each of the use cases and see how epic their fail is:
Intrigo Company User:
- Can edit the page from anywhere! Cool!
- Doesn’t have to spend pesky design or development hours building a fancy website. Besides, people aren’t visual. They like to read! And they especially like to wonder if they’ve accidentally stumbled upon “that one encyclopedia thing.”
- No wasted downtime entering in pesky “usernames” and “passwords.”
Casual User/Potential Client:
- Can read lots.
- Looks at “Edit” link and wonders why I, the average Joe, can click a link and edit their site. Do they *know* they’ve opened their site to the world? Man, I wouldn’t want a company designing a site for me that can’t lock down their *own* site.
- This isn’t very pretty for a company that designs sites. It looks like that one encyclopedia thing.
- Wow, I *can* really edit their site. Penis.
Synapse Studios User:
- Can change all of their links to http://www.synapsestudios.com. And their logo. And their name, everywhere, to read “Synapse Studios”. From multiple IP addresses. Until they do what they should’ve done in the first place and password protect the damn wiki.
Now, clearly I’m not actually going to make any changes like that. I wouldn’t really want my company’s name on a site like that to begin with. And I’m not hating on Wikis, either. They’re extraordinarily powerful tools and we use one, internally, to keep our ducks in a row. But you’re not going to see it advertised and you’re *definitely* not going to have access to it if you do find it.
Consider: Absolutely no one outside of Intrigo derives any utility from having the ability to change their site, except for malicious activity. I’m not about to edit their grammatical mistakes. I’m definitely not about to give them a glowing testimonial as one of their clients. But a spammer or just about anyone on Digg with 20 seconds on their hand could toy with it and tarnish the company’s image. This also isn’t to say that a basic website can’t be defaced or hacked. It happens. But I’m damn sure not about to give you the EDIT link, yes you, 220.127.116.11.
[Edit—they're protecting pages now. Cheers for them. Why they weren't that way on a public, corporate site already when they'd had vandalism hit before... is beyond me.]
[Edit #2—I didn't even notice that they had a section ON the Wiki about the Wiki (people skim wiki-style articles):
This wiki is one of the tools we use to communicate with each other, and so what better way to communicate with you. Feel free to edit and change. At Intrigo, we believe in your ideas and your work.
Really? I think it's pointless posturing of openness and further, I reiterate that no one outside of Intrigo will ever add any non-malicious content to the site. Ever. Is the payoff for the illusion of "transparency" worth the maintenance headaches? I guess that's their call. I still think the potential for damage is too great and if anyone legitimate happens upon your website in between vandalism rollbacks, you've potentially lost a client.]
Posted in: Rants