The battle of the free wiki programs. The first thing to notice about Wetpaint as opposed to PBWiki is the coding. Wetpaint’s design is filled to the brim with cutting edge web stuff like floating toolbars for page editing, collapsible everything and transparency a-go-go. PBWiki keeps it a little simpler in this regard, and I can’t quite decide which I prefer. Being a web design fan myself, I can appreciate the effort which it must have required to develop Wetpaint’s functionality, but it seems perhaps that the money spent on design has to be made up by advertisements or membership fees.
This is, of course, not exactly an unfamiliar model for web applications, but coming from using PBWiki which has run both membership-free and ad-free since I have used it, it does take a little getting used to. I find that I use wikis the most for group planning or project development. In that context, having ads run on the sidebar is pretty unappetizing.
That being said, watching the CommonCraft video on WetPaint provides a different perspective on how Wetpaint is trying to develop its user base. These are not supposed to be wikis for a group of students planning out a project. Wetpaint is catering toward the book and fan club users, seeking to find a home on the web. This sense is heightened by the easy addition of page “modules” and “widgets” that connect your Wetpaint wiki to other web services like YouTube or iMeem. It also breaks some of the contextual barriers around the presence of ads. I am more comfortable seeing ads on Amazon Recommends, than I am on Google Docs.
In this course, we are already used to PBWiki, and it seems to serve the purpose of planning out the course quite well. The traditional WYSIWYG editor of the PBWiki pages is familiar, and with no ads lurking around it feels more like a learning space than Wetpaint.
Given my usual desires for a wiki, I think I’ll stick by PBWiki (as long as they keep it free, anyway). But, given the enhanced functionality of Wetpaint, it certainly would be something to consider for other users.