More on (sic) experience with wikis

no, that’s not a typo …

Preamble: This starts out sounding like a diary entry, but some interesting wiki-focused observations are found below – including metrics!

Catching up on old items in my feed reader: Back in November, TechCrunch had an item on AboutUs, which at first glance looked at little self-referential, a web site on web sites. Digging in a bit more – we find it’s a wiki about web sites, which is still seemed a tiny bit redundant, but then I wandered over to my page – hey, it’s already been built! And look, someone else has pointed out one of my postings! Interesting stuff, so I started to edit the entry, cleaning up some of the info.

Nifty tools: The thumbnail of this site was a bit outdated – a makeover last weekend brings you the current Noir look – so I searched to find out how to get it updated. A few short clicks brought me to DomainTools.com, where the WhoIs page gives a full set of information plus a thumbnail – and let’s you schedule your site’s thumbnail for a refresh. I check back in 15 minutes – updated! Impressive.

You’ll Never Walk Alone: While I am happily self-aggrandizing, I get an incoming IM from my blog!

<aside> This was weird and fun – as part of the aforementioned makeover, I added the little chat widget in the upper right – a very nice IM client / plugin from Meebo. Highly recommended in it’s own right – fairly robust, I am seriously thinking of switching to it for all of my IM accounts (sorry, Trillian!) </aside>

On the other end of the chat was Mark Dilley, a definite wiki maven. He’s involved with AboutUs and a group called Recent Changes Camp, and we had a fairly interesting conversation that wound around a few concurrent threads …

WikiMetrics
Click to enlarge ...

Wiki Syntax Challenges: I commented about the multiple wikis I am getting involved with – behind-the-firewall using DokuWiki, a personal, best-practices-and-critical-data wiki for my USB drive using TiddlyWiki, and a few nascent ideas for ‘net projects using MediaWiki.

I’ve noticed the challenge of multiple syntax sets; every wiki seems to have a little different take on headings, bold, numbered lists – definite hurdles for folks who really don’t want to document things. Mark pointed me towards Creole, trying to establish a common wiki markup language. I’m pleasantly surprised to note that my wiki engines of choice are all in the top 10 in popularity, and all support Creole (various versions).

Wiki Adoption: Mark also pointed to an interesting page at RCC: Pattern Language For Wiki Adoption. It reads like a set of discussion notes from a brainstorming session, but captures some recognizable archetypes. I spoke to some of the challenges of wikis in a “small” group – we did some traffic metrics at year end, and noted that after the initial euphoria and/or curiosity, the group isn’t making a lot of edits. We introduced this technology attempting to break down barriers to information sharing, but come to find out that maybe it’s [low] interest / ability / priority, not [lack of] capability, that keeps us from capturing our organizational knowledge.

Effective communication is hard … surprise, surprise … but we keep hacking away at the issues …

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.