Archive for the ‘Wikis’ Category

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Want more people to contribute to your Wiki?

April 6, 2008

If you’ve built it but wonder when they’ll come, then take a look at WikiPatterns (http://www.wikipatterns.com/). Wikipatterns.com is a toolbox of behavior ‘patterns and anti-patterns’, and a guide to the stages of wiki adoption.

Applying patterns that help coordinate people’s efforts and guide the growth of content, and recognizing anti-patterns that might hinder growth – can give your wiki the greatest chance of success.

Most entries describe what the pattern is, how it’s used, give examples, and offer solutions (for anti-patterns).

The site is a wiki in itself so contributions are welcome to expand the body of knowledge.

[Links last checked February 2008]

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Compare software systems

January 24, 2008

If you’re in the market for certain types of software, then a matrix that compares most, if not all, the available applications should be your first port of call.

Here are some examples:

[Sites last checked December 2007]

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Wiki ‘suicide missions’

September 17, 2007

I’m currently reading Wiki for Dummies, and came across this delightful piece in Part III, Chapter 9:

Don’t go on wiki suicide missions

Wikis don’t have magical powers. They cannot create camaraderie where none exists, nor can they streamline an out-of-control operation. They are not powerful information magnets, nor will they make your team better writers, more organized, or more intelligent. In short, without a strong guiding hand, wikis are useless.

Wikis cannot promise instant returns or unbelievable creativity. Wikis allow users to quickly and easily update and upload information. Wikis are no substitute for holding a meeting, contacting your team members, or doing hard work yourself.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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“Wikiphilia”

August 7, 2007

Thanks to a link on one of my technical writing discussion lists, I came across this great article written in 2005: “Wikiphilia – The New Illness“.

Normally, I’d just skim such an article as my only real exposure to Wikis has been via Wikipedia (as a user and very occasional editor) and on the periphery of Wiki implementations in software support and development teams.

However, for my new client I am likely to be very involved in organising one team’s Wiki. From the looks of it, this Wiki was set up about a year or so ago and since then it’s become a bit of a dumping ground—’disorganised chaos’ would seem to be the best description, even though it’s an oxymoron. And it doesn’t seem as if people use it to its potential. For example, I haven’t noticed much in the way of collaborative discussion, which is what I thought this Wiki was meant to achieve.

I’m having a teleconference meeting about it on Thursday, so we’ll see what comes from that. Meantime, this article is a good read and I think it summarises very well the inherent problems with a Wiki that I’ve observed from a distance. I particularly liked these two paragraphs:

“And so the Wiki becomes a dumping ground for fragmented and incomplete files, textual sound-bites and aborted attempts to catalogue. And therein lies the second great failing of Wikis as information repositories – the absence of accessible organization and indexing. Although the basic Wiki functionality includes a simple search facility, there is little to no built in support for indexing or cross-referencing below the page level. There is no reading path made available to newcomers so that they might work from fundamental to more advanced material. Cogent explanation does not result from snippets of conversations; and exchanges of opinion need not be illustrative or informative.

Attempts to collate existing “content” into more substantial portions are easily defeated by the free-for-all editing of others, and further inhibited by the user group’s conflicting notions of the worth of the content and the best means for its explication. Just try and find something when the content, un-indexed, is constantly changing under foot.”

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Wikis in Plain English

June 23, 2007

Following on from CommonCraft’s excellent video on how RSS feeds work, they’ve added a new one on how Wikis work.

If you can’t see it from this site, view it directly on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

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Giving something back

April 12, 2007

I make good use of sites such as Wikipedia and EatingWA (a Perth/West Australian restaurant reviewing site), so thought it was time to give back and contribute to both.

My efforts to date have been very modest – a few restaurant reviews, and some editing of the information about the town where I live – but I hope to contribute more, especially editing typos in Wikipedia!