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Wetpaint Injected brings user content to old-fashioned Web sites

Wiki services content makes readers into writers.

We've covered the wiki company Wetpaint's experiments in expanding its products several times over the past two years. The company has had a solid wiki service for consumers since 2005. It has continued to improve the core product by layering in the capability to embed widgets in wiki pages (now pretty much a standard feature), and it's even tried to meld wikis with social networking through a Facebook app. Today the company is heading off in yet another direction with Wetpaint Injected, a service that enables content sites to not just embed wikis in their sites, but to integrate wiki content and community deeply into their architecture. It's a smart model.

Wetpaint Injected is a simple concept. It lets users create content in Web site, and it lets the site's publishers make sure that the new content fits in their look and feel. For example, if we wanted to have a database of company info for each product we cover, but didn't want to actually have Webware editors write that content, we could create a Wetpaint Injected form that collected structured data (company name, list of execs, location, description, etc.), and embed that in our reviews. Users could edit that content using Wetpaint's tools, which are quite good, and add Wetpaint widgets or even additional pages. Wetpaint maintains wiki-style revision histories so changes can be rolled back, argued over, and so on.

Web publishers can turn their readers in to contributors with Wetpaint Injected.

Wiki content is no substitute for forums or blog comment threads. Nor is it a suitable replacement for a content type like user reviews, where you want users to see multiple opinions, not just the one that the site's user-editors agree on. But it is a strong way to get users involved with any site; Wetpaint co-founder Kevin Flaherty says the service, "helps any site become a social publishing site," and I agree. I will look forward to seeing this capability even on commerce sites; I imagine my favorite computer hardware site NewEgg using this capability for building out a robust specs and capabilities pages for the products it sells, for example.

Wetpaint Injected content is not hosted at Wetpaint, it is actually embedded in customer sites. This means the site owner gets all that user content indexed by search engines, which is a big plus. For comparison's sake, some plug-in comment systems, like Disqus, host all content on their site, depriving customers of SEO benefit. Also, since the content is integrated into the site, any of the site's native social features can tap into it. Again, in contrast, Google's new Friend Connect service is not actually hosted on the site itself, but appears on a site via an i-Frame, so cannot interact with a site's user database.

The downside of this deep integration is that implementing Wetpaint Injected takes a bit of work. It's got to be embedded in site's content management system; it is not a simple drop-in service. It requires hands-on participation of Wetpaint engineers, at least at launch. The company does hope to make Wetpaint Injected self-serve in the third quarter, with plug-ins for popular blog platforms like Wordpress and Movable Type. Wetpaint's default business arrangement is that it takes a portion of advertising revenues on Wetpaint Injected pages.

Customers at launch include Flixster and IGN. The company is also announcing that it just closed a third funding round of $25 million, bringing the total funds raised to almost $40 million.