AboutUs, a Portland, Oregon based startup, which launched in 2006 is focused on creating "about pages" for every domain name and organization. AboutUs offers a community approach to finding out information about an organization or website as it is built on MediaWiki which is the same collaborative wiki platform as Wikipedia which celebrated its seventh birthday this week. AboutUs was critized for building a business around companies about information without their knowledge as they partnered with domain registers to pre-populate website information. For example, check out the Somewhat Frank AboutUs page. AboutUs has come a long way since their initial launch and recently announced some updates which point to a more clear business model.
The updates included three new services which included:
1. Free monitoring. Any article on the AboutUs site can now be watched automatically for changes. This feature appears to be a direct response to a request by Marshall Kirkpatrick in his initial analysis of AboutUs on TechCrunch because it allows you to see when someone updates your page and potentially posts false information.
2. Premium Service Package. Enables any company to benefit from AboutUs's excellent search engine placement by getting personalized wiki coaching for a one time fee of $99.
3. Portal Sponsorship. Enables companies to sponsor topical portals or microsites that aggregate business listings and functionality like calendaring and maps for cities around the world and industry verticals. Here are a few examples: PortlandTech Portal & Venture Northwest 2007.
I like the design of AboutUs as it does a good job disguising the fact it is a MediaWiki site. But at the same time it is this same good design that could confuse people into thinking an AboutUs page is a company's actual website 'about page' causing confusion. Do a quick search for your website on AboutUs and you are most likely going to find an AboutUs page for it. Since AboutUs offers the community the ability to update any page it could be a place where a vicious editor could try and attack a company. While Wikipedia offers the same type of approach they also have community editors checking all changes to the site. I am not sure if AboutUs has implimented this same method. But adding the free monitoring might help you to follow the changes being made to any page your care about on AboutUs, that is, if you are aware of AboutUs at all.