When most people think of wikis they think of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a community, although many people don’t see it as that. It is a community of people who have come together to write the world’s largest encyclopedia. Think about how much it has changed things, we no longer have a set of books on the shelf, we don’t even buy disks anymore. It has become accepted in our society that now Google and Wikipedia are the places to go for that type of knowledge.
Wiki is the Hawaiian work for “quick” and it is really a website that can be made fast. I’m always wow’d at the power of wikis. In this blog post, however, we’re going to talk about different ways to weave wikis into your overall community strategy.
There are two main ways of looking at wikis. They are either the foundation of your community (if you communities goal is to create documentation) or it’s a tool that is applied to a more traditional community. For the purposes of this post I’m going to talk about the latter and to be honest I’m not an expect in the first. That being said if you are interested in how to build a wiki based community I recommend reading Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by my friend Anne Gentle.
Different Ways to Use Wikis
The way I approach wikis I think about what static content would benefit my community members or aid in their collaboration? There are many ways to use wikis, these are some I have done and seen done in the past.
- Posting FAQ Type Content – Taking top content out of your forums and posting it as more “official” content
- Manuals & Training – Wikis are a great way to get your training content out there and fast. Doing it under protections of social there is also less risk from a certification of information standpoint
- Community Training – The “how-to’s” of how to use your site
- Resources Pages – Links to other sites, books, tools, etc that your community can benefit from
Unlocking the REAL power of Wikis
The hardest thing for a corporation or community manager to do it turn the keys of managing the community to the community. It is risky. But when it comes to wikis, finding a way to allow your community members to take charge of editing the content is when the real magic happens. Think about the four ideas listed above. Who knows better which content is best than the community members? Wouldn’t it be awesome if all the community shared all the resources they know about.
A nice balance to giving away this type of power and ensuring you trust those to do is to incorporate it into your gamification system. By giving various rights based on how high you go up in the chain you ensure that only your most dedicated contributors have the keys to the ship. This is also a great way of encouraging people to contribute to move up the ranks as they know that these types of privileges are down the road.
When you do decide to turn the keys over to anyone you must increase your moderation practices. Even if you leave only the most trusted community members to your wikis you still have non-employees publishing content. Even though you may have disclaimers all over the place people who stumble over the content in Google will see your logo at the top of the page and will assume the content is from you. If you have the wikis open to everyone I always recommend that each and every edit gets checked before publication. If you are limiting it to top contributors I would allow it to go live and have a process to check it after the fact. The key here is to make sure that you as the community manager always have the final say in what content is being published under the companies name. This is one of the key differences between tools like forums and blogs and wikis.
In our next post were going to talk about file sharing. As always, feedback and comments are appreciated!