Wikia, the for-profit venture of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, is announcing what it is calling the "next generation of collaborative publishing", or put shortly, "Wiki 2.0". This next generation of wikis will include a social layer that brings game mechanics, real-time streams, social sharing and more to the previously walled-in world of the wiki.

The announcement will come as part of Wales' opening keynote at the Digital Hollywood Content Summit in New York on Wednesday morning.

Wikia offers wikis on more than 165,000 topics, from Harry Potter to Starcraft to Vintage Sewing Patterns, with each maintained and contributed to by its users. Wikia calls itself "the definitive place for people to collaboratively pursue their interests and share their knowledge on the web". With the move to "Wiki 2.0", the site hopes to add "the best features of the social Web - personalization, sharing and easy contribution".

The company said it has a number of features in store for its users:

  • Integration of social tools to let users share their edits and contributions with friends
  • Highlighting of top editors so readers can see who created the content and learn more about them
  • Surfacing photos and videos more broadly on content pages and including images in search results
  • Radically improved content editing via a new, easy to use, visual editor
  • Fan activity modules such as real-time streams, polls, top 10 lists, and achievement badges
  • New opportunities for brands to get involved in the conversation with their fans

The move to add a more mainstream social layer to the wiki breaks down some of the barriers that kept wiki communities more protected and hidden from outside eyes. It also helps to bring the wiki into the modern age of the mainstream, social Web, while potentially increasing the number of users. Wikia was founded in 2004, yet currently boasts just more than 2 million registered users.

"The idea is to move into new markets, attract new people - people who traditionally thought wikis would be too complicated to use," Wales told the Guardian. "Wikia 2.0 marries the traditional wiki tools that have been so successful with newer social and editing features."

While we can't imagine that a similar move would be warmly accepted by the community over at Wikipedia, we can't help but wonder if World of Warcraft players haven't simply been looking for another game to play all along. On a Web where every page you hit is increasingly socialized, where every act somehow achieves something badge-worthy, it's the logical next step.