Wiki Revisited

I was asked, recently, about the potential for a new and improved internet-based source for building product information, a comprehensive and reliable source of information about construction means and methods.

It seems the industry already has many powerful tools for distributing information; the crucial issue is how to create and maintain the content. My suggestion is to "crowd source" it, allowing the learned members of the construction industry (including building product manufacturers) to create content.

Wiki tools, such as Wikipedia, are a good way to do this. I use Wikipedia frequently as a quick source of information, as demonstrated to the many Wikipedia links embedded in this post.*

When looking for building product information, many architects and builders begin their investigation on a search engine where pages from Wikipedia are often the first result returned. is another wiki specifically for architecture. Yet I note that these sites are woefully limited in building product information and neither uses industry standards for organizing data. They could be more useful to the construction industry if it were cross-referenced according to MasterFormat and OmniClass, industry standards for organizing construction information.

At the time of writing this, Wikipedia, for example: 
  • "Ceiling" does not cross reference MasterFormat Division 09
  • A search on "Acoustical Ceiling" returns 13 hits, but most of these are tangential. Wikipedia does not have a prime entry for the topic.
  • Wikipedia's "MasterFormat" entry links to the entry for "50 Divisions" where Division 09 links to a page on "wood finishing" --- hardly a complete discussion about finishes.
Amazingly, the following common building product terms do not have pages in either wiki:
  • "Concrete Admixture"
  • "Division 04"
  • "Single Ply Roof"
This makes me wonder if the construction community is willing to support a new, non-profit product database. Perhaps an individual or organization could champion such an effort. Is this an initiative that should be undertaken by a trade organization such as the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)?  Is it a viable commercial venture that could be financed by selling ads? Or will a new generation of online tools soon render wikis as antiquated as three-ring binders?

Marketing Opportunities
While the industry sorts itself out, you have a great marketing opportunity. If you are in the ceilings industry, for example, why not take it upon yourself to provide and maintain good content about your area of interest.

While overtly commercial messages will quickly be deleted by the crowd sourced legions of wiki watchers, you will find many ways to direct prospects to your company, such as links to articles you have published, and describe technology specific to your products. Chusid Associates created the studcast page, for example, with links to articles we wrote for our client, articles that also list the client's name and contact info.

This blog is mentioned in the Wikipedia listing for scriptio continua:
Scriptio continua has become common in e-mail and internet addresses. For example, the address for the website "Building Product Marketing" is written, scriptio continua, as, without spaces between the separate words.[4]
My business has little to do with Latin inscriptions, but I have had prospects call me after finding our link in the footnote on Wikipedia. It also helps our search engine listing.

 Other than the time you invest, there is no cost to participate in most wikis. It should be part of your social media and brand management programs.

For more information, see my earlier posts on the subject.

* Wikis should not be relied upon for critical decision making since they can contain biased, incomplete, and inaccurate information. Still, they are powerful starting points for further investigation, and frequently provides links to other resources.