corporate wiki: success factors?

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corporate wiki: success factors?

Frederik Dohr
Hello there,

After reading quite a lot about WikiWikiWebs (mainly for a university paper), I'm convinced that our project team could greatly benefit from employing a wiki.
I've already convinced the project manager that we should at least give it a try (mainly by stating how it won't cost a dime). Also, I've set up a local test environment (gotta love XAMPP), mainly for getting to know the MediaWiki engine.

However, predictably, many of my colleagues are quite skeptical - and to be honest, so am I to some extent.
Now I hope to benefit from the experts' experience on this mailing list:

a) How can I motivate my colleagues to at least try it out - and hopefully realize that it might actually be a great help to them?

b) What's required in terms of basic structure? Certainly some help pages for explaining the wiki syntax (though I'll probably link to Wikipedia rather than create it from scratch), but I'm sure there are a couple of other things to increase acceptance and participation.
Due to the large variety of projects people here are working on, it would be very hard to create a comprehensive basic structure right from the start. So I'll have to rely on the users/colleagues to create a kind of self-organizing wiki.

Any input on this issue would be greatly appreciated!
(Hopefully you won't mind if I incorporate those suggestions into my paper as well.)


Thanks,

Frederik
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

David Gerard-2
On 24/11/06, Frederik Dohr <[hidden email]> wrote:

> However, predictably, many of my colleagues are quite skeptical - and to be honest, so am I to some extent.
> Now I hope to benefit from the experts' experience on this mailing list:
> a) How can I motivate my colleagues to at least try it out - and hopefully realize that it might actually be a great help to them?
> b) What's required in terms of basic structure? Certainly some help pages for explaining the wiki syntax (though I'll probably link to Wikipedia rather than create it from scratch), but I'm sure there are a couple of other things to increase acceptance and participation.


The aim of a corporate wiki is, instead of "oh, Bob did that for two
years, but he left last week ... I wonder how he did it", to be able
to say "Bob did that for two years, he left how-to notes on the wiki."

How is your office culture? If you have a secretive office culture -
where people guard knowledge through fear - a wiki won't fix that.


> Due to the large variety of projects people here are working on, it would be very hard to create a comprehensive basic structure right from the start. So I'll have to rely on the users/colleagues to create a kind of self-organizing wiki.


Where I work has a *lot* of internal wikis. Mostly they work per
group. I write up something on any process, procedure or in-house
application I have to use a lot, as notes to *myself* and others.

You know how a lot of people start a new job by getting a notebook and
writing everything in it? The wiki should be used for that. It's
EVERYONE'S COLLECTIVE NOTEPAD.

The actual wiki software hardly matters. MediaWiki is very easy to use
and install, but a bit heavyweight for a small team; it also doesn't
even try to do access control. My work has various installations of
MoinMoin, TWiki, MediaWiki, UseMod, Trac ... my group uses MoinMoin
because it uses flat files rather than a database, and it's only used
by ten people, so MediaWiki was a bit fat for the job.


> Any input on this issue would be greatly appreciated!
> (Hopefully you won't mind if I incorporate those suggestions into my paper as well.)


If there isn't a wiki on how to use corporate wikis, you should start one ;-D


- d.
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Frederik Dohr
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
> The aim of a corporate wiki is, instead of "oh, Bob did that for two
> years, but he left last week ... I wonder how he did it", to be able
> to say "Bob did that for two years, he left how-to notes on the wiki."
>
> I write up something on any process, procedure or in-house
> application I have to use a lot, as notes to *myself* and others.
>
> You know how a lot of people start a new job by getting a notebook and
> writing everything in it? The wiki should be used for that. It's
> EVERYONE'S COLLECTIVE NOTEPAD.

So your approach would be using the Wiki as a kind of knowledge base rather than a collaboration tool?! (Although, of course, the one doesn't exclude the other.)
The problem I see there is that the individual employee usually doesn't really have much of a stake in such a knowledge base (what does he care about a possible successor... ). So why should he contribute (if there's be no obligation to make use of the wiki)?!
Therefore I'm trying to convey it as a tool that makes collaboration a lot easier - after all, who ain't sick of sending MS Office documents back and forth...

> How is your office culture? If you have a secretive office culture -
> where people guard knowledge through fear - a wiki won't fix that.

It's not secretive (for the most part), but people are quite busy with their regular tasks and thus reluctant to take on new ones (like documenting their work - see above).

> The actual wiki software hardly matters. MediaWiki is very easy to use
> and install, but a bit heavyweight for a small team; it also doesn't
> even try to do access control. My work has various installations of
> MoinMoin, TWiki, MediaWiki, UseMod, Trac ... my group uses MoinMoin
> because it uses flat files rather than a database, and it's only used
> by ten people, so MediaWiki was a bit fat for the job.

Well, I picked MediaWiki 'cause it's supposedly easy to set up - which, for the basics at least, is true.
I might look into the ones you've mentioned though.

> If there isn't a wiki on how to use corporate wikis, you should start one
> ;-D

Hehe, maybe at a later time, when I actually do have some experience in this matter...

Thanks!


-- Frederik
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Fernando Correia
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
On the company I work for, we are in the process of centralizing all
technical documentation of our software framework on the wiki, for use by
several departments of the company.

The idea is catching on and other departments are exploring the idea of
using the wiki to document their knowledge and also to publish documentation
to customers.

These stories are helpful:

   - Bootstrapping a Corporate
Wiki<http://www.ldodds.com/blog/archives/000184.html>
   - Embracing the Wiki Way: Deploying a Corporate
Wiki<http://www.freepint.com/issues/270706.htm#tips>
   - Wiki Case Study <http://www.socialtext.com/node/85>
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Fernando Correia
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
2006/11/24, Frederik Dohr <[hidden email]>:
>
> The problem I see there is that the individual employee usually doesn't
> really have much of a stake in such a knowledge base (what does he care
> about a possible successor... ). So why should he contribute (if there's be
> no obligation to make use of the wiki)?!
>

I agree. People are busy and they will only put their knowledge on the wiki
if they perceive some value in doing it. Some will do it because it is their
job to share information (technical writers). Others because they need to
communicate information to others that use what they develop. Others will
use it as a personal notepad and share the information.

I think peer recognition would also be a powerful motivational tool. It
would be great to see some ways to reward people that make good
contributions, like giving them some stars. It is a little difficult to do
this because in a wiki articles don't have owners. How can you judge the
value of each individual contribution?


Well, I picked MediaWiki 'cause it's supposedly easy to set up - which, for
> the basics at least, is true.
> I might look into the ones you've mentioned though.



I used to think that MediaWiki was too complex. For a time I used MoinMoin.
It is a great wiki and it has access control.

But now I think MediaWiki is superior, and that it is not so complex after
all.

Not to belittle MoinMoin. It is a great product as well.
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Gunter-2
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr


Frederik Dohr schrieb:
> Hello there,
>
> After reading quite a lot about WikiWikiWebs (mainly for a university paper), I'm convinced that our project team could greatly benefit from employing a wiki.
> I've already convinced the project manager that we should at least give it a try (mainly by stating how it won't cost a dime). Also, I've set up a local test environment (gotta love XAMPP), mainly for getting to know the MediaWiki engine.
>
>  
Well, that is a bit off track. Why should people spent their time on an
experiment?

Rather: Use the wiki to solve a problem. If the employees share the
problem, they have an interest in solving it.

Advertise that use with presentations.

For us, it is the documentation on our IT-System (SAP) with huge amounts
of self devoloped coding. It is rather difficult to retrieve information
on projects more than two years ago.



> b) What's required in terms of basic structure? Certainly some help pages for explaining the wiki syntax (though I'll probably link to Wikipedia rather than create it from scratch), but I'm sure there are a couple of other things to increase acceptance and participation.
> Due to the large variety of projects people here are working on, it would be very hard to create a comprehensive basic structure right from the start. So I'll have to rely on the users/colleagues to create a kind of self-organizing wiki.
>
>  
no. you need to give some direction in the beginning. And you need to
have some kind of means to force people to use the wiki.

We startet with a simple template for the interfaces to and from our
system. It is fairly easy to fill a template article, so the knowledge
on how to use the wiki can be very little. Small steps in the beginning.

Then a couple people should find it interesting or rewarding to work in
a wiki. Encourage that and help them solve their problems. people talk
with another.

Teach the use and the possibilities of the wiki. Half a day is short but
a good starter.


Make the wiki mandatory for certain types of information. Mostly it is
limited time of the workers, to put down that information. have someone
help them with it.

regards,
Gunter


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

David Gerard-2
On 24/11/06, Gunter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Well, that is a bit off track. Why should people spent their time on an
> experiment?
> Rather: Use the wiki to solve a problem. If the employees share the
> problem, they have an interest in solving it.


Yep! Things we use it for:

* Meeting agendas
* Lists of ongoing issues for said meetings
* Change requests - the canonical CR is a particular version from the
history, but those working on a complicated CR can edit it as they go
documenting what actually happened, which is very useful for the next
similar CR
* Local jargon file

The big use we put ours to was training new starters very quickly. A
local jargon file was a particularly good use.

Also: one place I worked, I got them to do a radical thing ... make a
documentation tree - folders on a shared drive, vendor and program,
with a text file of notes on installation and maintenance issues. I
would have suggested a wiki, but a mere doc tree was a head-exploding
revelation for them ... a wiki is a natural for that sort of thing.


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Ricardo Rodríguez
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
>>> Fernando Correia<[hidden email]> 24/11/2006 17:10 >>>
>On the company I work for, we are in the process of centralizing all
>technical documentation of our software framework on the wiki, for use by
>several departments of the company.
>The idea is catching on and other departments are exploring the idea of
>using the wiki to document their knowledge and also to publish documentation
>to customers.

After some months trying to propel the use of a wiki wiki environment within a couple of research teams, I have concluded that a top-down approach is mostly required. I mean, when the head of a team asks team-members to discuss a contribution she/he has previously entered in the wiki by using the wiki, you will be successful for sure: there is not alternative to use the collaborative environment!
 
Of course you have to be attentive to the bottle-necks could cut productivity with such an approach. What you could get is no answers at all! So, to get a previous agreement on this way of contribution by a number of persons is advisable.
 
Workshops showing wiki work basics by using the wiki environment will also encourage people to follow the thread. Even probably you must be ready to suffer criticism and scepticism for a long while!
 
For me, at the moment, two major concerns:
 
1. Most of the team-members arrive to the wiki from a WYSIWYG environment. In spite of this fact, most of them are now using Mediawiki without problem. I'm trying to decide if the use of a WYSIWYG environment with the wiki is a must or could be avoided.
 
2. How to move wiki entries from Mediawiki to rtf, xml or OpenDocument formats.
 
As far as I see by reading this list entries, Mediawiki people philosophy are far from these two concerns. So they are from access control. And I can get their point! But at least in the kind of environment I am trying to introduce wiki culture rtf/OpenDocument document production and access control are required. As after a number of trials with other wiki packages I have successfully implemented a number of Mediawiki wikis I keep struggling to learn enough about this environment as to satisfy the needs of the groups.
 
HTH,
 
Ricardo


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

David Gerard-2
On 26 Nov 2006 11:45:59 +0100, Ricardo Rodríguez - Your XEN ICT Team
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> 1. Most of the team-members arrive to the wiki from a WYSIWYG environment. In spite of this fact, most of them are now using Mediawiki without problem. I'm trying to decide if the use of a WYSIWYG environment with the wiki is a must or could be avoided.


In my experience WYSIWYG wikitext editors make simple things simple
and hard things impossible.


> 2. How to move wiki entries from Mediawiki to rtf, xml or OpenDocument formats.


Mediawiki text->XML is already in MediaWiki, isn't it? You'd need the
right XSLT to turn that into OpenDocument or any other XML format.
("the right XSLT" is a phrase like "simple matter of programming")


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Ricardo Rodríguez
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
 
>>> David [hidden email]> 26/11/2006 12:22 >>

> In my experience WYSIWYG wikitext editors make simple things simple
> and hard things impossible.

Completely agreed! But if we ease the entry point, people has less a  
reason to initially reject the proposed environment.

During the last years I've moved from WordStar to WordPerfect to Word  
to FrameMaker to/moving to LaTeX or any SGML/XML based solution. And  
of course the WYSIWYG becomes just a piece of the whole puzzle. But  
most of the people arriving to the team come from a Windows based  
environment. A slightly more featured WYSIWYG environment should ease  
the transition.

> Mediawiki text->XML is already in MediaWiki, isn't it? You'd need the
> right XSLT to turn that into OpenDocument or any other XML format.
> ("the right XSLT" is a phrase like "simple matter of programming")

Probably I've missed something here. All I know is the Export Pages  
Special page.  But it seems intended to move a wiki article from a  
wiki installation to another, but no XML tag is added to the body of  
the article. It moves to the XML file with the original Mediawiki  
tagging.

Please, could you point me in the right direction? Thanks!

Best,

Ricardo


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Frederik Dohr
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
Thanks a lot for all your responses and links for further reading!

The problem is that in my current position (technically I'm just an
intern), I have no way of handing out motivators of any kind - let alone
making use mandatory. Even getting everyone to just enter their name and
position (to make them take a look at the wiki) is quite a challenge...
And the project leader wouldn't be willing to take any such steps before
he sees that the wiki is actually working - kind of a catch-22...

I will get the chance to make a (very brief) presentation though.
Obviously I'll have to make a good case for the wiki there (not one of
my best qualities) in order to get people to at least consider using it.
So as of now, I'm hoping for a "cascade effect" where a few eager
colleagues will pick it up, and then others might follow.
(I will of course be present to answer whatever questions might arise.)

As for a WYSIWYG interface, I'd agree that while this might erase the
intial obstacle, its (current?) limitations would likely lead to
frustration further down the line.
I'd consider WYSIWYG if advanced users could just turn it off, but it
seems that all available solutions/extensions change the way contents
are saved, creating an either/or situation. (This might also lead to
complications when trying to export contents from the wiki for use in
some other medium!?)

Thanks again for you kind and truly helpful contributions!


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Fernando Correia
Good luck. It seems that the best way to start a wiki is by putting some
useful content in it, even if it is just a few pages. If people use it and
like it, chances are that the wiki will grow.

2006/11/27, Frederik Dohr <[hidden email]>:

>
> Thanks a lot for all your responses and links for further reading!
>
> The problem is that in my current position (technically I'm just an
> intern), I have no way of handing out motivators of any kind - let alone
> making use mandatory. Even getting everyone to just enter their name and
> position (to make them take a look at the wiki) is quite a challenge...
> And the project leader wouldn't be willing to take any such steps before
> he sees that the wiki is actually working - kind of a catch-22...
>
> I will get the chance to make a (very brief) presentation though.
> Obviously I'll have to make a good case for the wiki there (not one of
> my best qualities) in order to get people to at least consider using it.
> So as of now, I'm hoping for a "cascade effect" where a few eager
> colleagues will pick it up, and then others might follow.
> (I will of course be present to answer whatever questions might arise.)
>
> As for a WYSIWYG interface, I'd agree that while this might erase the
> intial obstacle, its (current?) limitations would likely lead to
> frustration further down the line.
> I'd consider WYSIWYG if advanced users could just turn it off, but it
> seems that all available solutions/extensions change the way contents
> are saved, creating an either/or situation. (This might also lead to
> complications when trying to export contents from the wiki for use in
> some other medium!?)
>
> Thanks again for you kind and truly helpful contributions!
>
>
> -- Frederik
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/mediawiki-l
>
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Ricardo Rodríguez
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr

>>> Frederik [hidden email]> 27/11/2006 19:10 >>
> As for a WYSIWYG interface, I'd agree that while this might erase the
> intial obstacle, its (current?) limitations would likely lead to
> frustration further down the line.
> I'd consider WYSIWYG if advanced users could just turn it off, but it
> seems that all available solutions/extensions change the way contents
> are saved, creating an either/or situation. (This might also lead to
> complications when trying to export contents from the wiki for use in
> some other medium!?)
> Thanks again for you kind and truly helpful contributions!
> -- Frederik
 
I do agree with you concerning WYSIWYG option, but I must recognise I am a bit of a mess about the available options. Have you successfully tried any of them?
 
I also agree with Fernando: some content could act as a trigger for participation. In my case these "useful contents" have a clear end: a paper sent to a publisher, lets say, for instance, Science. So the full example must include how it is expected the content developed within the wiki environment can be exported to the required format. That is why I am concern about this issue. Please, David, have you any experience with this particular? Thanks.
 
I understand that I am trying to use a tool created for free creation/free access of contents to developed proprietary knowledge. But this is the way things work in a huge number of places and to cope with this situations the only way to promote the collaboration, share of knowledge and production of freely accessible information/knowledge.
 
As another example, I think this document could be also useful for you...
 
http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~kimble/teaching/students/Jonathan_Davies/Jonathan_Davies.html 
 
All the best,
 
Ricardo

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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

David Gerard-2
On 27/11/06, Ricardo Rodríguez - Your XEN ICT Team <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I also agree with Fernando: some content could act as a trigger for participation. In my case these "useful contents" have a clear end: a paper sent to a publisher, lets say, for instance, Science. So the full example must include how it is expected the content developed within the wiki environment can be exported to the required format. That is why I am concern about this issue. Please, David, have you any experience with this particular? Thanks.


I don't with this particular case. I suppose an academic paper could
be co-developed via a wiki page quite well - start from notes and end
up with a coherent and clearly-written paper.

(I know people who write their personal websites on wiki software,
simply because it's less work than coding HTML by hand.)

One of the best keys to getting a wiki used is to use it as a better
substitute for a group whiteboard or something. As I said, it's good
for notes on common in-house business software and how to install it
and get it to do particular things.

Essentially: find some function that a webpage anyone can edit would
be a decent solution for.


> I understand that I am trying to use a tool created for free creation/free access of contents to developed proprietary knowledge. But this is the way things work in a huge number of places and to cope with this situations the only way to promote the collaboration, share of knowledge and production of freely accessible information/knowledge.


It's just a collaborative editing environment for text. Any process
that could benefit from that could benefit from a wiki page.


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Ricardo Rodríguez
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr

>>> David Gerard<[hidden email]> 28/11/2006 00:42 >>>
>On 27/11/06, Ricardo Rodríguez - Your XEN ICT Team <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I also agree with Fernando: some content could act as a trigger for participation. In my case
> these "useful contents" have a clear end: a paper sent to a publisher, lets say, for instance,
> Science. So the full example must include how it is expected the content developed within the
> wiki environment can be exported to the required format. That is why I am concern about this
> issue. Please, David, have you any experience with this particular? Thanks.
>
> I don't with this particular case. I suppose an academic paper could
> be co-developed via a wiki page quite well - start from notes and end
> up with a coherent and clearly-written paper.
 
And this is already happening here! And people are happy with the new environment. Even people being very sceptic at the very beginning. Early entries act as triggers as Fernando says.
 
As for exporting wiki contents, the precise magazine/publisher doesn't mind at this point. What I am trying to clear up is the process. From a previous message sent by you following the current thread:
 
"Mediawiki text->XML is already in Mediawiki, isn't it? You'd need the
right XSLT to turn that into OpenDocument or any other XML format.
("the right XSLT" is a phrase like "simple matter of programming")"
 
But all I am able to find is a XML export extension that will tag all but body contents. And this is not useful for document transformation into any required format.
 
For instance, please, take a look at this...
 
http://nvx.environmentalchange.net/@rrodriguez/R/R_SpecialExport.xml 
 
<text></text> contents the body of the article. And Mediawiki tagging is unchanged. So, from  the required transformation point of view it is the same to copy and paste the edition window content in any text editor or exporting it to this XML file. Any XSLT can manage XML tagging, but I don't need XSLT to manage plain text or Mediawiki tagging. But of course it will be harder to substitute Mediawiki tagging with the required tags needed, lets say, by a FrameMaker document.
 
Please, what I am trying to know is the state of the art with article exportation from Mediawiki. Accept my apologies if my questions are too basic, but I am not able to get the whole point. Thanks for any information!
 
All the best,
 
Ricardo

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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Frederik Dohr
In reply to this post by Ricardo Rodríguez
>
> I do agree with you concerning WYSIWYG option, but I must recognise I am a bit of a mess about the available options. Have you successfully tried any of them?
>  
Well, I'd found the following (blog) articles on the topic - might be
that their info is outdated by now though:
http://www.librarywebchic.net/wordpress/2006/05/01/installing-a-wysiwyg-editor-in-mediawiki/
http://www.librarywebchic.net/wordpress/2006/05/25/adding-a-wysiwyg-editor-to-mediawiki-part-ii/
> I also agree with Fernando: some content could act as a trigger for participation.
>  
I agree, and that's why I'm trying to get everyone to at least at their
contact data to the wiki, as sort of an initiation.
> As another example, I think this document could be also useful for you...
> http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~kimble/teaching/students/Jonathan_Davies/Jonathan_Davies.html
>  
Looks promising, thanks!


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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

MHart
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
Our group got wikis started in a big way at Intuit, Inc.

>> a) How can I motivate my colleagues to at least try it out - and
>> hopefully realize that it might actually be a great help to them?

Wikis need a champion - and that's YOU right now. Start using the wiki for
yourself, documenting projects, figuring out article structure and
classification. I would highly recommend getting a decent search system on
it - if you have a Google appliance in-house, use it with one of the
extensions documented on the Meta site.

When people ask you for info, point them to the wiki article about it. If
there's no wiki article about it, create one and THEN point them to it. I've
actually had people email me about something on the wiki that needs to
change. I just email them back and tell them "It's a wiki, dude. Change it
yourself."

>> b) What's required in terms of basic structure?

That's a tough one. Different wikis require different structure. Best to
create a basic structure that you think works and let it evolve. Don't be
afraid to create multiple "landing" pages and see which one works best.

We have to constantly warn people about choosing between one of Intuit's
three "self-help" management, documentation and collaboration tools: Wikis,
Blogs and QuickBase.

Here's a blurb from our documentation about choosing a collaboration
platform (from a wiki, of course):
--------------------------------------------------------------
A wiki is a great tool, but it isn't the right tool in every situation.

Do you need/want active collaboration?
    * If the answer is no, a wiki isn't for you.

Are you creating information that will be used/referred to over a span of
time?
    * If the answer is no, you probably don't need a wiki.

Are you primarily looking to have a conversation or build an information
repository?
    * Wikis have a built-in mechanism to support comments (the Talk page)
but if you place more importance on the conversation than on the documents
sparking the conversation, a wiki probably isn't the best fit for your
project. Consider a forum or a blog.

Is process central to your project?
    * Wikis are generally process-less, which means they aren't the best way
to manage a process. If you care about tracking status and issuing alerts,
consider Quickbase.
--------------------------------------------------------------

- MHart

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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Sullivan, James (NIH/CIT) [C]
 >> b) What's required in terms of basic structure?

>That's a tough one.

That is what I see is the problem.  Where I work small groups set up a
wiki and learn to use the wiki as a group with few problems since the
wiki admin is typically in the group.  But when an enterprise-wide wiki
is set up many come to it and have trouble determining first of all that
it is a wiki and they can add content, then have trouble determining how
to create a page, then how to place it within the wiki's structure.  We
use categories in one of our enterprise wikis and a Main Page that is
nothing but instructions.  I've concluded that designing a wiki is as
much if not more complicated than designing a web page.  But like a web
page it needs to stand on its own and users will rely the Main Page to
guide them.

The best way I've found for designing a useful wiki is to look at other
wikis.  Wikipedia is an awful example I think.  But its so famous that
people who want to add content are motivated to learn it.  That is not
the case in most offices.  But there are many other wikis to look at and
get ideas from.  One of my favorites is www.cookbookwiki.com.  They
state at the top of the Main Page that it is a web page that you can
edit.  On the sidebar they have a "Resources" menu with links to setting
up an account and creating content.  If you follow the "Create Content"
link there are instructions on what to do to create content, including
searching existing content first so you don't duplicate.  Its
handholding but I think that is what needs to be designed into the wiki
pages to guide the helpless new wiki users along and make adding content
easier.  Otherwise you will end up with a small number of contributors
to your wiki and their content scattered randomly in the wiki, lots of
orphan pages with duplicate content, and I have one of our earlier wikis
to prove it.

So, in short, use other well designed wikis you find as guides and
before releasing your wiki, have some novices try to use it.  This user
testing should show where problems are and where improvements can be
made.  

-Jim

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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

JTAutry
In reply to this post by Frederik Dohr
Here are my thoughts for what its worth.

In order for the wiki to succeed you have to first and foremost have the stamp of approval by someone with authority.  They don't need to be 100% sold on it, they just have to allow you to use it and to give others access to it.  That should be an easy sell.

Second, you have to put relevant useful content on the wiki that people need access to.  Pay attention to docs that people are always looking for, modifying, etc.  For example, we currently have no way to track individual projects here, we're a small shop and most things just get done in a couple days, no big deal.  So when I setup the wiki, the first thing I did was setup a project template and put everything I was working on at the time onto the wiki.  I setup a project status page that had rolled up info on all the current projects.  When my boss or his boss wanted an update, I told them to check the wiki.  They were blown away by the thought of having a quick snapshot of what everyone was working on, documentation, links to folders on the network for source code, production directories etc.

Another example was a lot of our network documention.  I'm a programmer by title, but have some authority over the network side of things, so this particular approach may not work for you!  I took some of the more static docs to start, like server info docs, howto's, etc, and put them on the wiki.  i then DELETED the docs from the network.  Guess our net admin is going to learn to use the wiki :)  

To sum up, make a case for the wiki to get approval to use it.  And then use the heck out of it.  You'll have some early adopters that will see its usefulness to the organization as a whole and use it, not everyone has the 'what's in it for me' mentality.  Those that DO will simply be forced to use it once it becomes integrated into the standard practices of the org.

Good luck!

JT


 
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Re: corporate wiki: success factors?

Frederik Dohr
> In order for the wiki to succeed you have to first and foremost have
> the stamp of approval by someone with authority. They don't need to be
> 100% sold on it, they just have to allow you to use it and to give
> others access to it. That should be an easy sell.
Done; I got approval and set it up a couple of weeks ago - but it's more
like being tolerated rather than being promoted or encouraged. Also,
it's currently running on my local workstation (using XamppLite), but
hopefully I'll get the access data for the dedicated server soon
(internal bureaucracy delayed this by about two or three weeks already -
some people were worried that adding a new database might corrupt the
data of another MySQL-based PHP-site running on that server... ).
> Second, you have to put relevant useful content on the wiki that people need access to.  Pay attention to docs that people are always looking for, modifying, etc.
>  
Actually, this gives me a great idea; I'm known to be an Excel pro (not
exactly true in absolute terms, but certainly in relation to most of my
colleagues), so people occasionally approach me for help with their
spreadsheets. Some of these issues require a little macro programming,
but often I can just point to existing functions (e.g. autofilter) - if
I'd gather some FAQs there and publish them on the wiki, that might be
the perfect "gateway drug"...


-- Frederik
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