Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wiki: solves collaboration & information sharing?

i often hear statements that using a wiki platform will solve our company problem in collaboration and information sharing.
based on my personal experience most of the wiki project's seen in reality failing silent, means they start with more or less enthusiasm but end up in either
  • content silos with outdated, bad findable information chunks
  • unused part of the companies intranet / IT infrastructure
  • derived by only a handful contributers and users
recently published article showing the reason and rational for that behavior.

by the way there are wiki projects out there (internet -> wikipedia, intranet) which are successful.

what makes them successful?

in my personal point of view, each successful "information process" requires at least
  • definition of common information lifecycle
    - who has to create which kind of information?
    - which criteries must be fulfilled to define a information object as usable?
    - which kind of subject matter expert must a involved for which kind of information
  • and common information taxonomie
    - what kind of information must be maintained
    - what kind of common classification do we use
    - best practices for structuring the information
  • and people who create, maintain and use the information
    - training is required
    - advantages and usage of information must be part of common understanding => people must see personal benefit in using and maintaining the information
based on spirit and purpose of the wiki within an organisation those guidelines must be more or less detailed but in any extend they must be available and somehow trained / reviewed.

the most successfull wiki project Wikipedia provides the mentioned guidlines all in an open and collaborative way (

one thing does not work is to setup a wiki platform and post a link to all potential users without any additional hard work.

always remember: providing information not more but not less than hard work. the more value a information must provide the more hard work is required to create them.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I don't know that if I totally agree with your assessment beyond Wikipedia. I think for a lot of it, you need a few individuals who will drive the wiki, push for the wiki, help to develop the community, create the organization for others to use as a framework to take things further.

I also think that Wikipedia has a number of large potential barriers to entry in terms of the organization, the taxonomy, the complexity of the coding. All of these things mean that a lot of people aren't willing to contribute... and they have a high ratio of views to edits. It makes Wikipedia feel less successful in some ways than other wikis because it isn't really collaborative with many users contributing.