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The Wales Rules for Web 2.0

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was in the Web 2.0 business before there was such a term. He has five rules for tapping the enthusiasm of users.

1. Be Proactive
"I find the term 'crowdsourcing' incredibly irritating," Wales says. "Any company that thinks it's going to build a site by outsourcing all the work to its users not only disrespects the users but completely misunderstands what it should be doing. Your job is to provide a structure for your users to collaborate, and that takes a lot of work."

Wales spent years fine-tuning a complex collaborative platform - one with just enough rules in place to keep people honest, but not so many that they lose interest.Disruptive Wikipedians aren't automatically banned from the site. There's an intricate network of users and administrators who hammer out a consensus on how to proceed, as well as an elected arbitration committee that rules on the toughest cases.

Wales had to settle many disputes himself in the early days of Wikipedia, before the self-policing social structure had matured. "You have to create a healthy civil society where there's a balance between having a lot of rules and having total freedom," he says. "And that's about very high-touch customer service."
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