We had a visit in Palo Alto from Dr. Pan Haidong, CEO and founder of hoodong, China's most popular wikipedia and wiki software. The hoodong wiki has over 1.5 million articles written by over 250,000 contributors, and the HDwiki software has been downloaded 200,000 times and currently supports over 1000 other websites in China. Pan Haidong was in town for a meeting with hoodong investors DFJ.
A common stereotype is that Chinese technology is not innovative but merely derivative. Americans talk about Chinese web companies and services in terms we can understand: "the Chinese Google," "the Chinese FaceBook," "the Chinese Youtube," and so on. And yet, with all of the web2.0 action in China, you know that there are things happening in virtual China that could be adopted and even monetized in the English-language environment. Says Pan Haidong, "At first we were the copycat. "C2C" is a "copy to china" model. Then we improved it and localized it and other Wiki developers outside of China learned from us and embedded these features into their systems."
Hoodong is an example of how we can miss what's innovative about Chinese online platforms, tools, and features, simply out of ignorance and the lack of English-language information on such developments.
Notes from interview with Pan Haidong:
That’s why we developed our free, opensource software, the first of its kind in the world. Hoodong wiki. We released the first version in November of 2006 and by November of 2007 we have version 3 with added functions, features, and more stability. There are about 1000 websites using our software, consisting mostly of tech researchers, OS groups, government, universities, and high school students.
Wikis are really popular in tech companies like Sina and Sohu because it’s a very good tool or platform for the software industry, for working on documentation. And it’s easy for tech guys to adapt to this new software. Sina, Sohu, and Netease have a lot of internal wikis.