Wetpaint.com ends free ad-free wikis for education program

Wikis in Education

It was fun while it lasted but as of August 11th Wetpaint.com will no longer be offering a free upgrade to ad-free status for educators. The news is as much a shock to me as it is to many of you. I was notified by the Director of Publishing at Wetpaint on August 4th about the change.

Since that time I’ve been communicating with Wetpaint about this decision and my future role as Educational Ambassador with them. Below is part of the e-mail I sent to them.

I thank you for extending the offer to allow me to stay on as
“Educational Ambassador” for educators. It means a lot to me that you
value my contributions to the Wetpaint team. I have appreciated the
opportunity to collaborate and provide educators and students with such
a great wiki platform. However, with the suspension of the ad-free
program indefinitely, I feel I can no longer be an advocate for using
Wetpaint as the premier educational wiki platform. I know that
educators who have already set up sites will continue to enjoy using
them with students, a large part of my role was helping those new to
the platform get their feet under them and answer questions as they
move forward. It’s hard for me to “sell” a program that will now cost a
teacher $19.95/month for ad-removal (especially for US schools that any
advertisements at all on a site is a deal breaker) when there are other
free programs out there for educators to use with students. Although
they might not be as good as Wetpaint, they are still free. I’m also
well known for being a proponent of open source software and for
finding the least expensive (free!) way to utilize technology in
education.

So to that end I will no longer be the Educational Ambassador for Wetpaint at the end of August.

When I approached Wetpaint about the idea back in November of 2007, it was commissioned as a trial project. Now nearly two years later, the educational wikis on Wetpaint number around 160,000 sites with some 600,000 users. I can’t image what the financial cost is of running and supporting that many sites, and in these hard financial times. projects that cost money without making money of any sort are the first to go.

Wetpaint will still support the some 160,000 educational sites on it’s system and will allow those to run ad-free if they applied before August 11th for the Ad-Free status.

As sad as I am to see the program go, I can’t blame Wetpaint (or any Web 2.0 company for that matter) that allows educators to use their product without ads and for free. I can’t image trying to make money that way…Edublogs.org tried it for awhile but even they ended up putting ads on their blogs.

Education and educators are a tough crowd. We want our products free and without any limitations. How do you make money that way? Even if it’s just enough money to run the system.

I have nothing but gratitude for Wetpaint. Their support of me, the educational community, and students everywhere has been wonderful. Of course I’m sad to see the program go, but I hope the educational community will join me in thanking Wetpaint for their effort and support of the education of our children.