Versionista monitors changes to regular web sites, in an extremely similar fashion to wiki history tracking. And no wonder, creator Peter Bray of Portland told Wired magazine that his inspiration was Wikipedia’s system of transparent editing. The service first came to attention when John McCain’s campaign used it to try and wound the Obama camp over changes to the wording of his Iraq war policy. Others in turn have used to spotlight changes on McCain’s site. Whatever the use, the ability to apply this facet of the wiki way to regular websites and political organizations is a big step forward in terms of transparency and the further wikification of the web.
Unfortunately, one of the best things about real wiki history, the fact that it’s available to everyone who visits a page on a wiki, doesn’t yet apply to Versionista. As Silicon Florist pointed out, a basic subscription of $200 a year for just 30 URLs is fairly expensive. I consider it a grave misstep for them to charge fees at all to use the service. Better to do as Virgil Griffith did over at WikiScanner: open up the service to anyone, generate more usage and news buzz, and use AdSense (WikiScanner doesn’t) if you’re looking for a profit. Versionista is still going to get a fair number of paid subscribers itching to use it, but only so long as they are the only game in town. All someone need do is set up a competitor using the model above, and Versionista will vanish.