Wikitowns are web based, crowd sourced information centres.
They take the form of pictorial directories, which group together websites that have been selected as being the best examples, or best information resources, relating to particular themes or subject areas.
The websites are represented by facade images; within themed streets; within themed towns. The facade images can be company logos, or can be custom designed to represent buildings or shops.
Many people contribute to the selection and editing of the websites represented in the towns.
The general idea is that knowledgeable curators - aided by a custom designed data mining tool - choose what they consider to be the best websites.
People with a special or professional interest in the town's subject area are then invited to participate in the town's activities as members. These members can then use the data mining tool, together with their own knowledge and experience, to challenge the choices of websites currently selected and suggest their own preferable alternatives.
Websites cannot pay to be included in these towns. Websites can only be recommended by the curators and town members (who compete with each other to find the websites that provide the best sources of information).
Selections from amongst the challenger recommendations are made solely on merit, through a town member voting system that is held when the town is periodically updated.
Streets have a limited number of facades and the towns have a limited number of streets. This ensures that the towns contain only the very best of the possible selections. These are regularly re-assessed and updated.
Revenue streams will be needed by some towns to cover advertising expenditures. This need can be met by attaching market areas to towns, where facade positions can be rented out to town members who have commercial products or services that might be of benefit to the visitors that the towns attract. In this way, the information areas in the towns can be kept free from intrusive and distracting advertising banners and popups.
If towns are sponsored, the sponsors' website links are placed in an area marked 'Main Street'.
There is no charge for becoming a member of a town, but membership is only offered to people who show a positive interest by challenging a website selection and suggesting an alternative. All members have free access to the town's custom data mining tool.
In addition to taking part in a town's selection activities, facilities will be available for members to create their own streets or towns. In this way the information system created by wikitowns can expand, evolve and self-organise.
Wikitowns can also serve a as marketing tool, where a town is created with a particular theme or subject area that will provide useful information and knowledge to attract a specific, niche category of visitors.