Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shared Knowledge?

"..[I]n 2005 Intuit launched TaxAlmanac.org, a Wikipedia equivalent for tax issues...Intuit doesn't brand the site--you have to work hard to find any indication on TaxAlmanac.org that it is run by Intuit."

Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

Well, I didn't have to work very hard: the little Intuit banner popped up immediately like a jack-in-the box. And I seem to remember a few other Intuit advertisements that were less than subtle. But I'm not sure it really matters -- anonymity doesn't necessarily equal selflessness or a patriotic belief in decentralized customer power. But do I want to contribute free updates, etc., when someone else takes the glory and the face time. I suspect that community spirit will diminish. Or will it?

In the end, whether the site attacts both contributors and users is the most important test. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) section had attracted 8,000+ users. Is that a lot or a little? And who were these users -- volunteer tax sites, for-profit tax preparers, individuals?

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