Rachel and I have had a vision for the last 3 months to create our own forum/wiki for the purposes of our fans and customers to be able to communicate with each other. We finally sat down and started building it, using a wiki template called ‘Wikidot’. It was pretty easy to set up, and we started building all kinds of categories for reviews, forum topics, etc. It looked to be a great idea, we even had a few beta testers give us feedback and it was generally very positive.

Think of the great abundance of information of the Fountain Pen Network, housed in a very easily searchable format. The focus being primarily on ink and paper, not so much pens. We call it the ‘Inkwell‘.

There was only one problem….time. You see, the whole point of a wiki is to get collaborative involvement from a community to put information in one easily referenced place. We were torn about setting up this wiki….because obviously there is a lot of work that goes into it, work that someone has to do.

Do Rachel and I moderate it ourselves to ensure consistency and accuracy of information? We could, but that would be a time-vacuum for sure, and time is not something we have in abundance these days. We JUST finished our huge push working 16-18 hour days, and now that we’re settling down a bit, moderating an entire wiki and forum seems like an overcommitment. We already had about 20-30 hours invested in building it for the beta-testing phase, with no end in sight.

Well, could we leave it open for anyone to add information? Sure, that would be easier for us, but how would we ensure accuracy of the information provided, not to mention moderating potential spammers and the like. We saw visions of spending the late hours of every night of the week going through and editing hundreds of posts. Not so appealing.

Okay, so what if we have other volunteers help us to moderate everything? Maybe, but that’s a lot to ask, especially because this wouldn’t be a pro-bono forum like Fountain Pen Network. It would obviously be affiliated with GouletPens.com. It would also raise issues of bias, not to mention how awkward it would be to talk about other retailers on this forum that we had built. When you reach a certain level of members, it costs money to house the wiki, too. So that money has to come from somewhere.

Bottom line is, though the Inkwell seems like such a great idea, it’s just not going to happen right now. I have no doubt it would actually be a pretty successful site, too. The only problem is that it would require a huge amount of work on our part, and that would take away from other aspects of the way we’re operating our business (and this blog!). We thought, “If we are willing to put so much work into a 3rd website for our business, why don’t we instead just focus on improving GouletPens.com and Ink Nouveau??”. 

So that’s what we’re going to do. We are going to work on reviews, better and more searchable information on both sites, and improved customer interactions.

If anyone out there is willing to take the reigns on setting up the Inkwell, by all means, go for it. Heck, I’m happy to tell you everything we’ve found so far about how to do it. It’s free to start. I think a fountain pen/paper/ink wiki is a fantastic idea, we’re just not able to execute it right now. But it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t still benefit everyone if it existed.