MindTouch Promises Safe Crowdsourcing for Product Documentation

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-01 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Targeting Amazon.com, Overstock.com, software providers and media organizations, the the MindTouch Collaborative Knowledge Base lets customers or partners with little or no technical savvy co-edit reference guides, tutorials, FAQs, files, images or videos. The Knowledge Base also features a permissioning system that allows documentation information to be winnowed down to specific users or groups. MindTouch's open-source approach sets it apart from messaging and collaboration providers such as IBM, Socialtext and Atlassian.

MindTouch Sept. 1 released a packaged solution to help companies open their product and company documentation to contribution from outside users while protecting companies from spam and other security threats.

A sort of Wikipedia for enterprises, the MindTouch Collaborative Knowledge Base lets businesses allow customers or partners with little or no technical savvy to co-edit reference guides, tutorials, FAQs, files, images or videos.

The wiki environment, based on the MindTouch 2009 open-source collaboration platform, includes controls for editors to accept and reject contributions, along with word blacklist, video editing, and user or IP blocking and banning.

The Knowledge Base also boasts a permissioning system that allows documentation information to be winnowed down to specific users or groups. Changes made to any pages can be kept in a queue until a moderator or administrator decides when or if to publish them. Moreover, MindTouch provides an audit trail of changes made to documentation, so if there is any foul play, the user can be pinpointed.

MindTouch CEO Aaron Fulkerson told eWEEK virtually every sizable company, from eBay to Overstock.com, Amazon, Microsoft and AutoDesk, has a problem keeping quality, up-to-date product information.

He added that while tools are available to let companies crowdsource the documentation, they don't sufficiently protect these documents from spam abuse. "There are a thousand e-commerce sites out there that need better documentation," Fulkerson said.

"So, what we've done is create a new module for content moderation that allows you to have a class of user that can accept or reject individual contributions," he said. "You've have to be able to see not only what is in the moderation queue at a glance but which of these contributions are quality contributions and which of them are spam."

However, Fulkerson said MindTouch isn't just targeting e-commerce retailers and software providers looking to crowdsource and improve product documentation. The Knowledge Base could also appeal to media organizations that want to let readers co-author on local content.  

As an open-source company, MindTouch is mindful to make sure it enables all content inside the Collaborative Knowledge Base to easily be exported to common formats. In keeping with that open-source theme, the MindTouch Collaborative Knowledge Base follows the MindTouch Collaborative Intranet.

Also based on the MindTouch 2009 platform, the intranet solution lets corporate employees extract content from disparate programs, including ERP, CRM, file servers, e-mail, databases and Web services.

MindTouch's open-source approach sets it apart from wiki and collaboration providers such as IBM, Socialtext and Atlassian, according to a recent Forrester Research Wave report from analyst Rob Koplowitz.

"The open-source community support moves MindTouch into a very strong position as a partner and provides customers with a wide array of add-on and integration offerings," Koplowitz wrote in the report.

 MindTouch may provide an open-source platform, but it doesn't cater solely to open-source companies. Customers include Mozilla, Microsoft, Intel, Intuit and The Washington Post.

What's up next for MindTouch? Fulkerson said to expect MindTouch to offer a solution that blends its wiki with business intelligence capabilities. This will be an in-house solution or a MindTouch-based partner extranet package.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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