Friday, January 12, 2007

Welcome to the Borg

Been away. I'll spare you the excuses. The good news is that I've got great news, and that has compelled me to return and post! Be patient, the "Borg" thing comes toward the end...

From September through December, my favorite pastime has been working at Appropedia. During that time, the site has grown, and I can see my own impact in helping that happen. The three core activists at Appropedia finally managed to have an actual phone call, with all three participating, late in December, and at some point I was celebrating the progress and the traffic at Appropedia and casually projected 10x growth over the coming year. Lonny, the actual founder of Appropedia (Chris and I both founded our own wikis before deciding to jump on board Lonny's), countered that he believed we need to be at 100x by the end of 2007.


Well, after the call, I decided to do some math (that's what you do if you have a BS in physics). I had already captured some Appropedia statistics for a few months, so I had some numbers to work with. It turned out that, as long as we continued to grow as we had been growing, Appropedia would very likely hit the 100x traffic target Lonny had suggested. Well, that was very encouraging on one hand, but really just changed the question around. Okay, so how the hell are we going to keep on growing like we did before? The way a little bitty site grows 50% is not the same way that a bigger site grows 50%. Great. How do we achieve the NEXT level? I started wondering what the New York Times charges for ads.

A day or two later, Chris shoots an email thread with notes he had swapped with Eric, cofounder of WikiGreen, a larger but much less active (essentially hibernating) wiki with nearly identical goals and motivation. (The reduced activity at WikiGreen seemed to be a result of very limited "marketing" activities on their part compared to Appropedia.) The discussion was, basically, what might we do together? Eric mentioned that he had been in extended discussions with another semi-aligned group about the possibility of them hosting or joining WikiGreen. Or something. Seemed like the other group was finally interested. At the same time, Eric made several inviting comments with respect to WikiGreen and Appropedia joining forces. At the end of the thread, Chris suggests that we try to engage with the third party since that would be the best outcome.

Boy did I squirm!

Here we had two parties very much aligned and ready to rock & roll, plus a third party who had demonstrated extended reluctance. I could see where Chris was coming from, but I figured, hey, if those other guys are truly interested, it won't matter which partnership comes first, right? But I carefully checked in with Chris first, and he asked for my patience. So I was extremely patient and basically waited an entire day. Maybe it was two. At some point, Eric sent a reply to the thread. I couldn't help it. I blurted out a reply suggesting what a great opportunity there was, since Appropedia had good marketing, but WikiGreen had more content. Wouldn't it be great to get both at one site? How about partnering first and checking in with the other group later? I proposed Appropedia as the destination, but left open the WikiGreen option.

Well, it turns out that Eric was online when I replied, and felt quite the same way, mentioned that he felt Appropedia made more sense as it was better known, and things got busy quick. Several ensuing emails were all about how to do it. By the time Chris checked his email, the migration was nearly complete. (Okay, I exaggerate, but the plan for migration was pretty baked at that point; I think that was late Thursday, January 4th. By late Friday all the images had been transferred and about half the article text. It finished on Saturday, except for the large number of loose ends.) Chris very kindly forgave me before I even got a chance to ask forgiveness, and he even expressed his joy that I had been so bold. Anyway....the point is, we had decided that Appropedia was the Borg, and WikiGreen would be assimilated.

Voila! Bingo! Bob's your uncle!

Suddenly, Appropedia has 5 times the number of articles!

It didn't occur to me to do a few before-and-after statistics captures, so I don't know precisely when and how much changed as a direct result of the merger, but thanks to some help from Lonny and his Google Analytics, we can say that overall page views at the site are up about 150% (so about 2.5 times what they were), and distinct visits are up 200% (3x what they were).

This is stunning!! The totals are a lot more than the sum of the independent wikis. I had suggested as much in my promotional email, but I figured it would take a lot longer. So, at this point we are well ahead of schedule toward the 100x (that was assuming a nice steady monthly growth rate, roughly 42% month-over-month...turn your textbooks to page...zzzzz). But now I seriously AM thinking of NY Times ad rates, or who to acquire or something. And gee, there sure is a lot of work to do, too!

Wanna join the party? We can use you! Come visit the site, or leave a comment, or send me an email. See ya there!


Blogger Chris Watkins (a.k.a. Chriswaterguy) said...

Made me laugh - I liked your account of the merger. Didn't realize how much I was making you squirm... but I do remember checking my email one day, and finding that since the previous night we'd gone from talking about merging, to being merged. Very cool.

2:11 PM  

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