Wiki Woes

A wiki is not a Wikipedia, Wikipedia is a wiki. Wiki’s are not an inherently useless collection of Web pages with lackluster or nonexistent security, history, and versioning features. With that said, is the concept of a wiki that hard to grasp? I mean, its just a simple application that takes inputs through a Web form, stores them, then makes that content visible and readily editable through a browser. Blogs and wikis are technically some of the most simple applications but yet seem to be some of the more controversial collaborative tools that Millennials are using and hoping to share with other generations. Don’t get me wrong, Millennials did not create the wiki concept or technology (see Ward Cunningham) but they have made it an integral part of their collaborative arsenal.

Recently I started a corporate softball team for the IT department at my company. There was an obvious need for some sort of Web presence to hold all necessary information such as rosters, schedules, recaps, pictures, etc. I chose the wiki engine stikipad.com for its simplicity, ease of access, and the fact that it was free. By the end of the season I ended up being the only content generator aside form the blog like comments left by a few team members. I created and maintained all of the pages, I uploaded and linked all of the pictures. I’m fine with putting in the leg work but I was hoping to facilitate collaboration and distribution of content generation. That was not so much the case.

There were very few comments, and some of the comments were there to simply mock the concept of the wiki as if it were a joke. I am still ridiculed from time to time by coworkers for my support of the wiki concept yet no one can tell me why. InfoWorld.com deemed 2004 as the year of the enterprise wiki, yet its 2007 and I’m being taunted. Its as if members of older generations are afraid of wikis and other Web 2.o technologies, like its a bits and bytes version of the plague. In retrospect I think if I never told anyone that our team site was powered by a wiki engine and just let them have at it, the site would have received a much warmer welcome and it would have achieved my goals of collaboration and distribution of content generation. So I’ve learned my lesson, in the future when discussing the wiki concept with seasoned members of a large corporate IT department, refer to it as an enterprise grade content management system with lackluster permissions and oversight.

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7 Responses to Wiki Woes

  1. Paul says:

    Softballs are hit by bats or caught with gloves. The failure of the wiki mentioned in this case is directly related to it’s contribution on the field… very little. In addition, the wiki was never presented as a serious component of the team or an integral part of the softball team experience.

    The ridicule is more aligned with it’s creator and little to do with the concept or technology. No technology will ever trump human interaction.

    Finally, your conclusions about why seasoned personnel didn’t engage is off base. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as you don’t have a spouse or children which chip away at your time. Furthermore, when faced with choosing which online arenas to expend energy and thought, many of us do so where an exchange of human and esoteric ideas are engaged, improved and honed.

    Try not to be so harsh concerning something that was offered up with no more value than whether or not one should don eye black at a game. Planning and communication of your intentions in advance could provide a vastly different outcome next time out.

  2. […] Let’s say you’ve come up with a great way to use wikis to share knowledge among your team, but the term “wiki” draws blank looks or nervous laughter. Show, don’t just click through features; actually show people how and why the particular […]

  3. Chris says:

    I agree with paul. Wiki is the contribution to a particular topic. Such as articles, website links, blogs. Anything that is writen an that can be edited on a website is a wiki. Like wikipeia, wikianswers, wikiconcepts project Ect… The newest addition is http://www.wikiconcept.co.uk. A human edited website and content directory. These sites all can be edited easily by using a mark up language and deemed as wikis.

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