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Aboutus.org: A Wiki Directory With Every Website Listed

TechCrunch discussed “AboutUs: A Wiki About Every Website” recently.

Portland, Oregon based AboutUs announced this week that it has closed a Series A round of funding and raised $1 million. The site is a wiki directory of web sites, mostly populated automatically but with a healthy amount of traffic and a growing number of edits being made daily. If you look up your website on AboutUs, you’ll probably find an entry there.

The Portland Business Journal says:

King’s Portland company has just closed a $1 million initial financing round for its wiki, or collaboratively created Web site, listing the names of Web sites and information about them.

The site name refers to the “About Us” page that commonly appears on business Web sites.

What has AboutUs investors excited is how much attention the site is already getting from Internet users, without any marketing or publicity.

The site was ranked as the 1,266th most popular site on the Internet at midweek, far ahead of two other wikis that list businesses, yellowikis.org and wikicompany.org. AboutUs.org went “live” in mid-August.

There is a lot of comparisons to Google, YouTube, and other “free” and open source startups that caught the attention of bloggers and surfers, as well as investors and advertisers, leading to more investors and eventually big buyers and big money.

The concept of Web 2.0 is the idea that social networking can dictate success in business because society supports it because they benefit from it. Aboutus, Inc. is a community built and supported project from which the community may benefit, but I’m sure individuals will reap the financial rewards.

So what is Aboutus, Inc.? It’s a wiki which acts as a directory, a kind of comprehensive, do-it-yourself encyclopedia of websites. The information used to built the informational pages comes from the About Us page on the websites. So I went looking to see what was there.

As a wiki built on the successful platform, when searching for a specific site, word, or phrase, Mediawiki checks its database and if it finds an exact or near to exact match without a lot of other options, it brings up the page most likely to match, rather than a list of search results. Looking for , my main site, I found CameraOnTheRoad.com.

The page includes a thumbnail screenshot of the front page of my site and the first few paragraphs of our About Us page. The page also features an “add your vote”, “recent reviews”, and a map of where we would be, if we actually stayed in one place. They created the map based upon our “permanent” address in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a place we may not see two to three years between 2-4 day visits. Such is our life on the road.

The page also includes the language my site is written in, English, but doesn’t note that I also have a translation WordPress Plugin, so the site could be read in many different languages.

It also includes my contact address, company name, and a couple of personal information bits that I’m not happy about being included. So I clicked the EDIT button to get rid of the personal information, and it let me edit the page without registration. Wow!

There was, however, a note that said my IP Address would be logged for security reasons as I wasn’t registered, but the page saved and the information I didn’t want to appear was gone. (Note: I had to do a total refresh to see the changes.) It might come back as the editors and monitors of Aboutus might restore it, so I’ll watch it and if I need to, I will register.

Which such ease of access, the task of monitoring these sites must be tremendous. Anyone could write anything. Which begs the question of whether or not we, as the site owners, should be monitoring our own Aboutus page? And who should be “responsible” for what is shown on our pages? Us? Or them? This is part of the many answers and concerns I have about such ideas.

A list of related domains is also featured, some of which had nothing in common with my site. Though upon closer inspection, I realized that some of these sites I’ve written about recently, so they must have a program or crawler that grabs this information from the site automatically for inclusion. Interesting.

At the bottom of the page, they have made strong use of a directory style categorization which puts my site in a long list of categories:

Arts | Photography | Techniques and Styles | FAQs, Help, and Tutorials | Nature | Nature Photography | Travel | Road | Camera | Adventure | Writing | Magazine | Authors | Writers | Shopping | Shop | Recreational Vehicle | RV | Recreation | Outdoors | Tips | Internet | Web Site | Business | Images | Photographic | How | How To | Equipment | Techniques | Web | Wildlife | Design | Learning | Photographer | Vehicle | Weather | Photographs | Articles | Improving | Share | Tricks

The list looks like it was generated from my meta tags keyword list rather than any categories on my site.

I don’t see how this information was collected manually, and while I know the majority of the information was collected from , the Internet directory list of all registered websites, it would still be very interesting to learn more about how the information was collected and posted on the Aboutus wiki.

I also went looking for and found nothing. Any search for a WordPress.com blog ended up on the WordPress.com page. The page highlights the site’s language as English, though we all know that WordPress.com blogs come in over 40 different languages. The main server site in Texas is listed as the company location.

So I can’t find Lorelle on WordPress, which would mean I’d have to add it myself or let someone else do it. If you have a WordPress.com blog, and you find yourself listed, let me know. I’m really curious to see if any WordPress.com blogs are listed since I couldn’t find any.

I have to admit that the search results page, when I finally got one, was even more fascinating to me. I’m going to recommend we do something similar with the , also based upon Mediawiki.

The search results shows the best “Article Title Matches”, then a list of the “Page Text Matches”, which gives you two options for finding your search content. There is another list on the right side of the page that gives you a third search results option, listing search results found by a built-in site search by Google. This list shows every page on which your search appears, including category pages and linked reference pages found under the “Related Domains” list. Wow! I like this kind of comprehensive option list for search results.

As for the success or failure of Aboutus, Inc., it totally relies upon the web world’s fascination and use of the site. In many respects, it is not much different from Alexa and other similar site listings, including .

A directory of basic information on a website helps people quickly find out who is behind the face of a website, but it also opens up a can of worms as the site can be so easily edited. In a time when your reputation is based upon what is written about you on the web, this could be another site you have to monitor frequently to make sure your good name, or the good name of your blog, is respected.

What do you think about this?


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

9 Comments

  1. Posted November 20, 2006 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    You can use your robots.txt to prevent the ABoutUs bot crawling your page (more info here).
    Edits, to remove your personal details (isn’t this a blatant case of Whois violation) actually are allowed.

    I surely wouldn’t compare AboutUs to the DMOZ. DMOZ still is an edited directory and AboutUs is just a leech if you ask me.
    Ever noticed how dumb their bot is? Just have a look at the related sites for my listing. Just a crawler who has taken all the outgoing links that day.
    I don’t have the link anymore, but recently there has been a big fuzz about AboutUs, if I remember well it was at SonSpring’s.

  2. Posted November 20, 2006 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I got my lazy back part in action and looked the entry at SonSpring’s up : here you go.

  3. Posted November 20, 2006 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I think it is pretty interesting, however I do agree that it is possibly a privacy issue as well. However if you don’t want your personal information listed than you shouldn’t have it on your website.

  4. Posted November 20, 2006 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    If you try to submit a *.wordpress.com blog it won’t let you because it keeps redirecting to wordpress.com

  5. Posted November 22, 2006 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I noticed. It’s really strange. Hopefully, they will figure out how to fix that oversight.

    Jen: The information they are posting comes from the WHOIS information. You may not have that information posted on your site. It’s the information you provide when you register your domain. If you don’t want it public, then you can remove it from the wiki.

  6. trabob
    Posted April 17, 2007 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    For those discusted with about us there is a good blog to visit at
    http://www.stopaboutus.org/discuss/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=1618e9f00efa77d8a36829255fbc8992

  7. Posted May 7, 2008 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I noticed. It’s really strange. Hopefully, they will figure out how to fix that oversight.http://www.ig2t.com

  8. push
    Posted July 20, 2008 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    As far as aboutus.org is concerned, I think it is good until and unless they don’t make your information public.
    As you can find that your personal information is made public and anybody can edit it without any log in information.

  9. Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess
    I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for newbie blog writers? I’d
    really appreciate it.


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