Community wiki-building site Wikia, has announced that it’s allowing its social networking platform to become open source. This will allow anyone to easily create a social community complete with profiles, avatars, friending, etc… within their MediaWiki-based wiki sites.
For a good example of a social network built into a wiki-based site, check out ArmchairGM, the sports wiki database, which Wikia purchased in December of 2006 for more than $2 million (our coverage). This site prominently features aspects such as user profiles and comments as key parts of the experience.
When most people hear the word “wiki” they think of Wikipedia — and rightfully so — however sites like ArmchairGM and Mahalo, with their social components, show that wikis can be used to build sites far beyond the traditional text-heavy, encyclopedia-inspired sites.
ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick thinks the open source availability of these social tools could help bolster niche communities and has the potential to erode some of the popularity of the main social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Certainly, creating a niche community is the idea behind a Hollywood-centric social site The Biz (our coverage). However, now with these open source social tools, you won’t need a big company like Variety backing you to create such a site.