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What’s the Difference between Announcements, Blogs, Discussions, Wikis?

Alternate Title: Battling Collaboration Memes

As mentioned previously, we are trying out SharePoint where I work, and I’m finding it interesting, maintaing 3+ blogs, including this one. Actually, the focus of the internal stuff is quite different, as Dennis McDonald and others have been noting. Lot’s of details and stories to write about, but one key learning we’ve captured recently …

With the SharePoint toolset, we can set up Announcements, Blogs, Discussion Forums (Fora?), and Wikis – sometimes all on the same site! If you think a bit, there’s can be very little difference between the entries on each of these lists. So, why the apparent repetition? What is the difference?

It depends on the type of collaboration you are trying to initiate …

  1. Use an Announcements to make a statement, inform of an event, where you expect no comments or replies. The flow of information is in one direction only – out from you to the readers of the web page.
  2. Use a Blog to make an observation, deliver a status update – capture a well-formed thought. One or two folks may have question or want to add a follow up, but in general you expect a few comments at most.
  3. Use a Discussion Forum when you are asking a question, making a proposal, or establishing a new standard. Here, we expect a lot of discourse with threaded conversations and branches and such.
  4. Use a Wiki when you are making a statement / documenting a fact. You should expect refinements, additions, and other edits – but not full-on discussions.

In fact – if you find a section in your Wiki is getting a lot of edits, questions, issues – try moving the topic to a Discussion Forum until things get worked out …

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