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There are two types of wish lists: personal (or organizational) wish lists, and software user wish lists.
Personal (or organizational) wish lists compile an itemization of goods or services they desire. The list's author will then distribute copies of this list to family, friends, and other stakeholders who are likely to purchase gifts for the would-be recipient. The goal of a wish list is to facilitate communication between the gift receiver and the gift giver. Wish lists often contain items that a gift purchaser can obtain from a variety of retailers. Some wish lists are specialized for particular purposes or concentrated at individual retailers, such as gift registries (e.g., bridal registries).
Software user wish lists are typically written as one word: "wishlist". The user wish list is a compilation of user suggestions for requested features. Many enterprise websites and software packages offer users the option to add a "wish" - a suggestion for improvement or change - and to vote on the importance of suggestions supplied by the publisher or author of the website or software, and they attempt to give a quick response to the suggestions. For example Microsoft Visual Studio has a "community" menu, and Facebook has a "suggestions" section.
In many cases, when a company fails to supply such a framework, users create their own lists, in Internet forums or in blogs. When such a list becomes popular, the company must respond to the common requests.
Having software user wish lists has become popular since 2007 when a football gaming community FIFPlay started collecting fans wishlist for Electronic Arts for pre-development of FIFA (video game series) and it has collected over 10,000 ideas and suggestions for FIFA 08.
In some cultures, people often exchange wish lists before major holidays that include gift giving, such as Christmas. Other common occasions for issuing wish lists include baby showers, birthdays, housewarmings, weddings, and charity drives.
- A gift registry is a type of wish list that contains only items that can be purchased at the store which manages the registry.
- An online wish list is a type of wish list that is hosted on the Internet.
- A product wish list is similar to a list of functional requirements. The difference is mainly the importance of the requested functionality. Items that might be on the wish list at one time may be expected to be requirements later.
- A software user wishlist is a type of wish list that is created by the software manufacturer (such as the software development company or the website owner) or by user groups.
- A bucket list is a type of personal wish list of things to do before a person "kicks the bucket" (dies).
An online wish list typically allows a registered user to create a wish list, add wishes to it and then spread a link to the wish list via email or social media like Facebook and Twitter. Visitors to the published wish list can in most cases comment wishes and reserve them. This adds a collaborative perspective among the viewers that would be much harder to achieve for analog wish lists.