Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wiki City

Great idea, to build a web community around a town and enhance the town in the process.

Web site has scoop on Davis community
Davis Wiki allows users to add and edit listings on everything from city politics to the best places in town for a date.
By Chelsea Phua - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 10, 2006

Michael Ivanov's cell phone rang at 5 a.m.

The Davis Wiki Web site was under attack, the caller said.

A hacker had vandalized the Web site's pages using an "automatic script attack" that had sabotaged the layout and design of the site at

Ivanov had never met the caller, but one thing was certain -- he was a dedicated user of the site, which provides information about the city of Davis.

"There are a lot of users who are way more active than I am," said Ivanov, one of the site's creators. "Active users feel like they have a stake in keeping bad content out."

Wiki sites are different from other types of Web sites because they allow anyone to edit the information on their pages. One of the most well-known wiki sites is Wikipedia, the largest reference Web site on the Internet.

The Davis Wiki is the brainchild of Ivanov, now a software programmer in the Bay Area, and his friend and former housemate, Philip Neustrom. They launched the Web site in October 2004 with 300 pages and about 30 users, when they were students at the University of California, Davis. Since then, the Davis Wiki has swelled to more than 7,600 pages and close to 5,300 users.

In the world of wikis, the Davis Wiki has caught the attention of notable wiki pioneers. One of them, Ross Mayfield, co-founder of Socialtext, the first wiki company, said the Davis Wiki is one of the largest city wikis.

Ward Cunningham, who invented the wiki format, naming it after the Hawaiian term for "quick," also praised the Davis Wiki site after learning about it from a reporter and viewing it.

He said a glance at the site tells him there is a healthy community contributing information about topics that matter to them.

"Just about every page I landed on had something interesting in it," Cunningham said. "It has a lot of character. It made me want to go to Davis."