Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Wiki or Not To Wiki?

To Wiki or Not to Wiki -- That is the question

Submission for Enterprise 2.0 wiki template contest.

Submitted by Stephen Rahal COMMUNICATIONS & SOCIAL MEDIA - IGLOO INC. Note: Helix is a VAR of Igloo

Since the introduction of social technologies, community managers and members alike have reflected on when to use one particular application versus another. Wikis, blogs and forums are each built to simplify communication and collaboration. It’s just that the dividing lines and use case for each are not always crystal clear.

As the debate continues over what to use, and when, email still remains the de facto collaboration tool. According to Forrester’s 2009 Workforce Technographics Study, 87 percent of information workers rely on email while most collaboration tools still go widely untapped. Coincidently, email is also the leading cause of unnecessary productivity loss.

It’s easy to see how most inboxes become unwieldy when you factor in that anyone can send an email at virtually no cost. Whether it’s a simple FYI or information request, even the slightest message can set-off a chain of “reply-alls” that quickly overload your inbox. In the end, with so much noise to deal with and the lack of a shared and open workspace, email was just never intended for scalable collaboration.
Defining the wiki

The first wiki was created as an online knowledge repository. Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki, called it “the simplest online database that could possibly work.” The typical wiki has multiple contributors – a great example being the online Encyclopedia Wikipedia. With over 75,000 contributors and 13 million articles, some studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica.

Wikis also share some similar properties with other Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs and forums, depending on the software you may be using. Typically, all can be navigated through search using categorization or tagging schemes, RSS feeds and social sharing push content updates to the user community and comments are enabled. Furthermore, using WYSIWYG technology, new entries can be added with little to no programming experience.

When to use a wiki

When launching a community with social technologies, it is valuable to establish some guidelines outlining when you should wiki rather than post a blog entry, start a forum or share a document. A wiki is designed for co-creation. It’s a virtual sandbox where people can come together to produce content with lasting value. A wiki is your tool of choice if your goal is to:

• Create a knowledge repository for policies, procedures, documentation or best practices

• Organize and share information such as to-do lists, meeting notes and observations, but not necessarily hold a conversation around it

• Produce the content for a document that will later be designed, distributed and/or stored for reference

A wiki can also work in conjunction with other tools. For instance, to overcome the challenges associated with initiating user generated content, a forum could be used to capture seed material for the wiki.

When debating between a wiki, blog, forum or document, make sure you ask yourself these questions for each:

Wiki Blog Forum Document

Do you need the initial draft intact or the ability to reference prior changes? Should conversations link to the asset?
Is portability a concern?
Should control reside with the individual or the asset?

The wiki text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License agreement

1 comment:

Stu said...

A wiki can be a great organism within a company for sharing information and allowing input from many members.

Stewart Higgins
Intranet Expert
Intranet Software

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