Setting ourselves up for some new things this term (I’ll blog about that next) I did a bit of a ‘will I, won’t I’ excercise with three wiki tools. I like Wikispaces a lot – but the basic interface looks so basic that I wasn’t willing to make the choice to use that tool until I learnt more about customization. For me the exisiting templates are just too ‘home-made’ looking.
My other choice was PBwiki – but I have not used that yet, and in the time I had set aside, I decided not to use that either as it was a totally new wiki platform for me. I will be going back to PBwiki too!
MY BIG MISTAKE
I started a new wiki with both those good wiki companies approved my request for ad-free spaces within 36 hours at the outside, one of them even quicker than that!
What’s my problem? Well as I have said in my tweets – Wetpaint support sucks!
Wetpaint as a wiki tool is quite nice, particularly in the hands of students. Lets face it. If the kids want to build a wiki, then Wetpaint has some template choices that make them feel as if their work is ‘cool’! In other words, it’s more like the kind of choices you get with various blogging platforms.
Until you as a teacher decide to jump in there and take advantace of the Ad-Free Education Wikis. 48 hours to have the request processed? Try more than a week and a half and still counting!!! Expect automated replies. Even worse, when you have sent in the requested information in the ‘How To Apply section’, expect to get an email requesting the age of the students! Yes, it’s mentioned in the promotion but not in the information that is needed to apply.
Righto I think..we’re getting close when the email comes asking for the age of the students. Next? another automated reply.
Still no ads removed. We have started teaching with our wiki, which is against my policy entirely.
We even held off for the first lesson waiting for the magic to happen.
I am sure that Jeff Utecht, Wetpaint’s Education Ambassador, (and pro-blogger at The Thinking Stick) is as embarrassed as I am about this whole debacle. Talking to Wetpaint education services is like dealing with call centres – you never know who you are talking to, and when you call back they don’t know you rang before). I’m also wondering – is the company based exclusively in the States? Do they not factor in the fact that we go to school at different times in the Southern Hemisphere?
I had to laugh because my husband’s take on the mess was to ask – Does Jeff get paid to promote Wetpaint? This is a question derived from a business response. He assumes that Jeff would believe in the services he is promoting and would expect it to be efficient – unless of course he is being paid to promote which makes it all a bit more rubbery. I explained that Jeff wouldn’t promote something he didn’t believe in. Must be a business management issue at the moment.
So – Wetpaint take note – if you want to build your business, it would be fabulous if you could be responsive to educators. If we love your platform we will buy into it.
Wetpaint, I very much hope to hear from you soon. As an education consultant I used to promote your product too. I’m embarrased to think that I might have been giving teachers poor advice. I would much prefer to dig into the product and push it to the limits for good use than have to give it up.
Come on Wetpaint – on behalf of all educators let me ask you to speed up your response times.
UPDATE: Less than an hour after this post, Michael Bolognino from Wetpaint has been in touch. See his comment to this post. Thanks Michael. If this problem can be resolved, and if my experience can help streamline things for other educators then it’s a win all around! Perhaps we educators could also help Michael and his team continue to develop a great wiki product for our students to use.
UPDATE TWO: Congratulations and thanks for Michael’s support of educators by resolving this problem less than half a day after I posted this story. The wiki looks fabulous now! I know that things can go wrong But the fact that a blog post reached you Michael and you were kind enough to jump right in and resolve the problem is fabulous. Michael also said that he saw my forlorn tweets of frustration, replied (which I missed being in a different timezone) and assumed the problem had been resolved. A message there too for ed companies. Watch the tweeters :-) and don’t forget to send a Direct Message if you need to make contact. I purposefully tweeted the issue early, then vigorously in the last 24 hours before writing this post of frustration. To blog IS to communicate.
UPDATE THREE: Michael remains in contact and is going to do a thorough review of the scripts that they currently use to make sure that they are as accurate and friendly as possible in supporting educators requests. He may also try work with his developers to try to come up with a way to make the ad removal process automated.
A happy and successful solution.