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Forbes.com goes Web 2.0 with Corporate Org Chart Wiki

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Over the past 90 years, the Forbes brand has been built on the traditional journalistic model. Now, with the launch of its Corporate Org Chart Wiki in early beta form, Forbes.com is plunging into the deep end of the Web 2.0 wisdom-of-the-crowd ethos with, as the site itself says, “an experiment in collaborative problem solving.”

The April 24 Forbes.com release announcing the beta rollout described the Wiki as a “Web application [that] invites everyone on the Internet to contribute what they know about company organization charts.” Forbes.com editors won’t physically be able “to do more than cursory fact-checking on this,” said Jim Spanfeller, Forbes.com president-CEO.

“We’ve still got a ways to go before we have enough tools so that vandals are disempowered,” he added. “Ninety-eight percent of the time, people are going to do the best they can in an appropriate, constructive way, but people may still come in [and make mistakes on purpose] to be funny or malicious or for other reasons. Right now, we have to go back in by hand to correct those things. We’ve got to develop a way to automate that.”

Spanfeller said the fundamental goal of the Org Chart Wiki is to give Forbes.com users a tool that provides greater transparency into the corporate world. While the names and titles of top executives and officers of public companies, as well as most large private companies, are readily available, “This gets really interesting and worthwhile when we get deep into the levels of the organizations,” he said.

Does Forbes.com hope to become the Wikipedia of corporate organizational charts? “I wouldn’t say that is a fundamental goal of the effort,” Spanfeller said. However, he pointed out that “because of our size, we feel we’re probably the best situated to aggregate the number of people and get the amount of involvement necessary” to create something along those lines.

Spanfeller characterized Corporate Org Chart Wiki as “a major launch.” The wiki is part of the Forbes.com site and follows the same CMP-based advertising model.

“We put a lot of work and effort into it, and users have also put a lot of work and effort into it,” he said. “We have fairly high hopes for its uptake in the marketplace, and it is getting good traffic. … Over a period of time and over the whole landscape of what we offer, the Org Chart Wiki is one more reason for people to go to Forbes.com more frequently and in greater numbers than they go to our competitors.”

The Org Chart Wiki will not be the only Web 2.0 feature Forbes.com will be adding this year, Spanfeller said.

“Web 2.0 will be a common theme, not just for us but for everybody, for some period of time.”

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