Wikis and Maps

Wikimapia, which is basically wikipedia plus location, just added the ability to embed maps into your page. I like the neighborhood boxes and the map interface, but as far as labeling and tying together the world, it’s not quite as good as 43 Places, which lets users map their neighborhoods with more precision than a rectangle.

The amount of open, user generated spatial information on the web is skyrocketing right now.

Gone Wiki

A little less than a month ago, I released the Rain City Guide Wiki and I’ve been very impressed with the results so far… I’ve had quite a few local real estate professionals add themselves to the (free) directory that I’ve set up and even a few, like Grier Smith and Chuck Reiling, add their own pages.

Interestingly, I figured it would take some time before Google caught up with the wiki site, but I’m pleased to say that it really didn’t take much time at all! A search on Chuck’s name shows that the wiki page he created for himself is the number one result, even above his writings on Rain City Guide, which kind of surprised me.

[photopress:wiki_screenshot.jpg,thumb,alignright]Because creating a page on the wiki is as simple as putting text in brackets: […], it seems like a no brainer for real estate professional who want to kick start their internet exposure. All you have to do is add your name (in brackets) to the Seattle Real Estate Directory. After you save the page, you will be prompted to create your own page where you can write about yourself and add photos to your heart’s content.

However, I think the real benefit of the wiki will come as people fill in more details about the home buying process. Grier did a great job starting up the discussion with a page on the Home Buying Process. If others are interested in adding to his description, editing the wiki page is as simple as clicking on the link that says “edit this page”! And if you are making a meaningful contribution, I highly recommend you add yourself as a source!

Here are some of the areas of the wiki that I’ve put some time into updating recently:

  • Innovative Real Estate Search Sites. I get a steady stream of emails from people who want me to add their new real estate technology site to my list of innovative sites. My latest response is to say “feel free to add yourself to the wiki page because I’m in the process of moving the list over there anyway!” On the wiki, each innovative real estate site gets their own page and I’ve added lots of cross-links making it easy to see connections between companies. There is still lots more that could be added, so I welcome your contributions!
  • Seattle Real Estate Blogs. This is another wiki page I feel pretty good about because I’ve seen a bunch of local real estate bloggers add their sites recently. I keep learning about new sites thanks to this page!
  • National Real Estate Blogs. Similar to the Innovative Real Estate sites, whenever a blogger emails me asking to be added to my blogroll, I send them to this wiki page where they can add their own site. After I complete adding all the real estate blogs that were already in my blogroll to the wiki, then I’ll completely move my blogroll over to this wiki page so that I don’t have to do any work at all! 🙂

I’ve definitely gone wiki, and if you care to join, it can be a lot of fun!

Can we create THE Real Estate Guide for Seattle?

I’ve been playing around with wikis for quite a while, and I finally got around to installing one (that I’m happy with) on the Rain City Guide server. But before I tell you what you can do with the wiki, I should probably give some background…

What is a wiki?

In the simplest sense, a wiki is an editable webpage. Have you ever read something and thought “I know more than the person writing this!” Well, a wiki gives you this option as it is designed to allow readers to edit webpages.

[photopress:hanging_tree.jpg,thumb,alignright]The most popular wiki is, without a doubt, the Wikipedia. The Wikipedia is essentially an encyclopedia made for the web. It allows anyone to update any page. This might sound like a mess waiting to happen, but in practice, the concept has worked well because there are more good people than bad on the site and the results is an amazingly comprehensive listing of public knowledge. While running a wiki takes a certain amount of faith in the “goodness” of contributors, all public wikis tend to have really good “roll-back” features that allow an users to “undo” unhelpful comments and block IP addresses from spammers (including the wiki I installed!).

So what am I up to?
In my quest to create the best resource for real estate information in Seattle, I’ve created a wiki that will complement this blog. Whereas the blog best serves timely updates, the wiki will hopefully become a wonderful way to present information that can benefit from continuously improvements over time.

So what am a really up to?
I want to create THE real estate guide for Seattle. It will take time, but I think that if we keep plugging away, we can harness the knowledge of the Rain City Guide community to create a truly unique resource. As I really do plan for this to become “the” real estate guide for Seattle, I’ve named the site:

What are some uses for the wiki?
In my mind, the low hanging fruit is a real estate directory for Seattle. If you are a real estate professional in Seattle, feel free to add yourself to the real estate directory that I’ve created. Adding yourself to the directory is easy and just meant to get you comfortable with editing a wiki, while also qualifying yourself as a web-savvy real estate professional. 😉

In terms of the directory, I’ve added the following categories: Appraisers, Construction, Escrow, Handymen, Mortgage Brokers, Real Estate Photographers, Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Lawyers, Real Estate Technology, and Title Companies. But the beauty of a wiki is that if I missed your line of work (assuming it is within real estate), simply edit the page and add your profession. (By the way, I haven’t added separate webpages for any of the people in the directory yet, but if you’d like to add a page to expand on yourself and the services you provide, feel free to create a page by putting your name in brackets, as in [John Doe].

Another idea I have is almost definitely ahead-of-its-time, but could be interesting, is that anyone selling a home is free to create a webpage that describes their home on It will cost you nothing but time, and if you are creative enough, it might get you some interesting publicity.

Of course, I have even more ideas for how a wiki could be useful for better understanding real estate in Seattle, so don’t be too surprised if I reference wiki articles in future blog posts! With that said, I’m a huge fan of the “release early and often” philosophy (and this feature is definitely released early), so don’t expect too much from the wiki and you likely won’t be disappointed!

Also, if a wiki seems a little bit intimidating to you, feel free to play around in the sandbox. You can’t mess anything up in there, so edit away and I think you’ll quickly see how easy it is to create and edit webpages with a wiki.