Wikis…You’ve probably heard the term, perhaps even used one (Wikipedia is most people’s first wiki experience, and probably the most common example), but what actually is a wiki?
A wiki is a website that anyone can edit, add text, add links, create new pages, and do and undo what others have done. A wiki is a collaborative production, and an excellent tool to use to harness the collective intelligence of many users.
If anyone can edit and delete information though, why aren’t most wikis a complete mess? Well because of social engineering, contributors are incentivized to be cooperative and helpful or face there post being removed. Wikis are monitored, so that un-suitable information can be quickly removed.
Wiki use is fast becoming a popular form of collaboration in corporations. QUT uses a wiki format for students to work in groups, and for tutors to share useful information. Other corporations such as Adobe Systems, Amazon.com, Intel, Microsoft and the FBI use wikis as well. Depending on the size of a corporation, they may add to or replace centrally-managed content management systems.
In a corporate format Wikis can be used for;
- Collecting Business and Technical Requirements
2. Corporate Dictionary
3. Meeting Agendas, Notes, Attendees, and Attachments
4. Organizational and Professional Biography
5. Status Reporting (Project, Personal, Program, Departmental)
6. Release Notes and Issue Tracking
7. Product and Service Documentation
8. User Manuals, Guides, and Best Bets (Tips)
9. Policies and Procedures
10. Brainstorming, Innovation and Patent Processing (Many Eyes)
11. Intranet Replacement
12. Metrics Reporting
13. Along with RSS, notification of upcoming Events or Announcements
14. Error Reporting, Tracking, and Resolution
15. Locating Like Minded or SME within the Enterprise
So what are some of the benefits of using a wiki?
- Build up knowledge bases
- Avoid e-mail overload
- Allow all relevant information to be shared by people working on a given project
- Store communication in one central location
- Organizing Information
- Building consensus, provides a framework for collaborative writing
- Access rights and roles can be set. Users can be forbidden from viewing and/or editing given pages, depending on their department or role within the organization.
And the pitfalls?
- Need to be monitored, to avoid useless information
- Can contain mistakes and in-accuracies
People are the main problem with wikis, as the people input the information. However this can be combated with the establishment of a positive culture.
This is a great article about The Downside of Wikis, well worth a read for further information!