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.
Congratulations to PBWiki and Wikispaces for their extremely prompt response to.
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.
Where to begin. 🙂
First let me say that I’m sorry it took so long to get the ads removed from your site….what a mess!
Your timing of course could not have been better, as I was out of Internet contact until yesterday when I arrived here in Bangkok. I got on last night and received your direct Twitter messages, but by then things had been solved. A big thank you to Michael for picking up the slack for me while I was en route to Asia.
Let me see if I can help answer some of your questions and concerns with Wetpaint. At this point I know things are better but for other readers who happen by this might be of help as well.
“I’m also wondering – is the company based exclusively in the States?”
Yes, Wetpaint is exclusively in the States. Seattle, Washington to be exact and living in Asia myself I understand the frustration of waiting up or waking up at all hours to try and call someone in the States for help.
“Do they not factor in the fact that we go to school at different times in the Southern Hemisphere?”
I have been trying to factor in the schools in the Southern Hemisphere and understand that you are in session at this time. I joined Wetpaint in June officially, making our summer here up North a perfect time to talk about changes and try to role out some new features before the new school year begins again North of the equator for most. It doesn’t matter when you decide to do something…someone will be trying to use the service. For most US based companies, I’m afraid that means making updates in the middle of the night and during the summer holidays.
“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.”
Yes, as part of our collaboration I do receive some compensation from Wetpaint. As I disclosed here: http://www.thethinkingstick.com/?p=685 and as I do on all posts in which I write about Wetpaint. That being said, I do believe as you that Wetpaint is the best wiki platform for students and teachers. I have seen teachers and students take to the interface of Wetpaint more easily than other wiki programs and as you state…that is the key and why I decided to approach Wetpaint and have been working with them on their educational site. I promoted Wetpaint long before there was any financial compensation involved and I would not be connected with a company I did not believe in!
Wetpaint is the only (to my knowledge) wiki service that is committed to creating a better wiki service for education. I am working with Wetpaint to not only promote their service, but to also help them understand the needs of education. None of these services were ever made for education, yet Wetpaint continues to try and alter/change their service to meet the needs of educators specifically. On the Wikis in Education site (http://wikisineducation.wetpaint.com) Wetpaint is building a community of educators to support each other around their platform and to help facilitate global connections between educators and students.
It’s definitely a work in progress and both Michael and I have some big plans for the education side of things in the future. But we must also remember that Wetpaint is a free wiki service that is showing a commitment to education by not only removing ads (their revenue) but they have also brought an educator (me) on board to help support education.
Yes Wetpaint has some work to do, and yes this was a completely unacceptable time frame for getting ads removed from your site. But I still believe it is the best wiki out there for students and teachers and over time we’ll get things right!
Thanks Judy…the power of connections, communication and blogging strikes again. 🙂
I have wikis with PB, Wikispaces and Wetpaint.
Wetpaint isn’t as fast to respond as Wikispaces
(who never seem to sleep),
but I think it’s the most beautiful wiki.
Wikispaces is the nicest and PB the teacherest.
Michael Bolognino here–I manage the Wetpaint Education program. First of all, I want to apologize for the experience that you’ve had so far with Wetpaint–I can promise you that this is not typical of how we support Educators and that I’m here to help. I did reach out to you on the 22nd via Twitter and I should have followed up again on email when I didn’t hear back.
First of all, please contact me directly at michael at Wetpaint dot come and I will personally remove the ads ASAP. The lag that you experienced is totally unacceptable and I will be looking into this on Monday.
Second of all, we recently started using a new online email management tool to streamline the manual process of removing ads and responding to users–but clearly something needs to be addressed and corrected to provide a more prompt, accurate, and as personal as possible response to our educators.
I hope to hear from you very soon and I will do my best to make this right.