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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.
Want to start working with the future? This is the place.


The WikiDroit Case-Study

WikiDroit is a website that was launched by a few French law students. Its aim was to create a database (in French) of law-related resources. However, created in October 2006 the website did not take off. Its example shows how and why a wiki may fail - and what to do to prevent this from happening.

Poor Wiki Integration

The first problem that can be identified is that the wiki does not make one with the rest of the website. Though an important effort has been given to design of the website, the wiki customization (based on MediaWiki) does not go further than a logo. Combined with the fact that the link to the wiki from the website opens in a new window, this means that the 2 entities are poorly held together. If you take the example of Curriki, the website and the wiki are closely integrated together so as to create a strong identity.

Lack of Original Content

The wiki could have survived this first mistake. However, the wiki itself was designed without an aim. Its stated mission is far too wide: "generalization and vulgarization of Law topics aiming at everyone". Wikipedia already exists! A wiki cannot work if it does not reach a breaking point in terms of contributors. In this case, the content added by the first contributors was not sufficient to bring in new ones. The general public already have enough Law-related information available on Wikipedia (Law Article) and Law students have a huge number of relevant textbooks available in any library. Thus there was no incentive for new members to come in and add content.

The Lessons From WikiDroit

How could have WikiDroit been successful? If the website had brought something original and relevant to its target audience. Think about this: every year, Law students go through exam papers and new questions. Would one not like a place where, on top of previous exam papers they would find their fellow students works, made available with the mark they received and tutors corrections? This would bring value to them and give them an incentive to contribute content. What's more, the content they could contribute would be readily available to each of them - but at the same time different for every of them, therefore increasing the interest of every single contribution. This could be linked to the Magnet Pattern: make the wiki a place for exclusive and attracting content.

To be successful, a wiki must bring something to its target audience. It must be an ease rather than a pain. Find a lack of data or ineffective communication: here a wiki might fit the bill.

Want more ? Stay tuned.

© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC