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I am now blogging at www.guillaumelerouge.com

Wikis are everywhere. Now that global media institutions have started embracing the phenomenon, wikis have become more than a buzzword. Wikis are at the leading edge of what tomorrow's internet will look like.
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2007/02/12

9 Corporate Wiki Starting Tips



There has been some buzz running lately on various tech blogs, regarding the best ways to get "social-enterprise" tools adopted faster and more easily. When it comes to wikis, various tips and tricks are suggested (amongst which my favourite is "if you don not want to end up disappointed, do not start") but there is room left for another list. At least this is what I will be arguing by doing in the following.

Get Things Off To A Good Start
  • Give your wiki a soul: this may look like an odd advice, particularly in a corporate setting, but it is maybe the most important one could ever give you. Think about any successful project you lead: which one did not include the strong sense of a shared purpose? Starting a wiki makes no exception.
  • Refer to the wiki: if you actually expect your people to go and use the wiki, make is as well known as possible. Encourage its adoption through an intensive internal referral campaign. Clearly stating that you will not read any attachment which has not been uploaded on a wiki page is a good idea to begin with.
  • Do not start from scrap: asking people to actually edit pages instead of only reading them is a concept weird enough to get to grasp with, do not add the burden of having to create your own pages (at least at the beginning). Think about putting most of the currently available material on the wiki and even start stubs for pages you feel like they deserve one.

Help Your People

  • Train them: there is some hype going around, which basically says "one should be able to use any piece of software without training". ... How many hours have you spent figuring out how to use less than 10% of MS Excel potential? A wiki is not complicated to use, but one should always remember this does not mean that everybody was born knowing what to do with one. In fact, most people were not.
  • Provide fast and relevant help: the one thing more annoying that a software that you cannot get to work properly is a software that you cannot get to work properly without knowing why. Whenever something does not go as well as expected, provide a resourceful help center. One that actually knows what your wiki software is, for example.
  • Listen to your users: elementary? Yes. Done? ... When it comes to a new technology adoption, providing more support than necessary is a necessity. Feedback is always useful: it tells you what actually does not not work and makes user feel they are listened to. Tip: if you decide to take action from these premises, it is even better.

Keep The Wiki Going

  • Go through the "start effect": after the buzz and enthusiasm following the launch of your corporate wiki, an after-shock state is likely to happen some way or another. This includes the 3-days period when no ones writes anything and the "what's new" page looks like your fridge. Do not be afraid to wait a little, things need time to get on the right track.
  • Hire a "wiki gardener": during the beginning, information will be added in places seemingly chosen randomly on the wiki. To sort things out and give coherence to the whole, consider assigning this task as a mission to somebody. It will make a huge difference if the wiki can be browsed easily.
  • Find out why this generic checklist did not work for your company: this would be my last reminder: every company is different, and implementing a coprporate wiki will hence trigger problems that are quite different too (depending on your enterprise culture, work habits and management staff...). Find out how a wiki could work for you, not how it ought to work for somebody else.

Want more ? Stay tuned.

© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

PS: For those of you who wonder why I stopped at 9 rather than going all the way to 10, it is mostly because I felt like 10 was too short to provide enough advice on the topic.

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