Encouraging wiki usage in your team

Anthony just asked a great question in one of my recent blog posts, and I thought my hasty answer was worth making into its own post (given that I’ll soon be giving my second talk on this subject):

If you’re trying to make more people use the wiki, then that’s exactly what you need to do – I’m guessing you’re in a small team, so get one other person interested and get them to start putting information on the wiki. For example, do you have a list of projects plus a description of what they are, who is on them, their status and so on? That should be on the wiki.

Are you doing any work that most people don’t know about? Like you’ve posted that Javascript code on your blog recently – put it on your wiki linked from a “code snippets” page.

Depending on your team and exactly what you do, maybe a “tips and tricks with PHP” page. Make it an internal point of reference for the rest of the developers and encourage them to add their own advice to everyone else.

The world’s your oyster in theory, but the content does need to be compelling in the first place to get people looking at it.

I do of course also maintain a fabulous list of wiki-related resources in del.icio.us which are well worth checking out

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One thought on “Encouraging wiki usage in your team”

  1. Check out Perry’s first-hand perspective in the WLUG wiki history.

    The important point is that you need someone to prime the wiki. Most people will not care about it at all as long as it’s mostly empty. Few people care enough to contribute without getting anything in return. There has to be a certain concentration of content first so that people will start finding useful information – as soon as you cross that line, they will start adding information (often for purely selfish reasons like wanting to remember some detail that isn’t currently mentioned on the page, and which they don’t want to forget), thereby creating a virtuous circle.

    I’ve seen this transformation on another wiki and it’s amazing to watch. It putters along nearly comatose for months, frustrating even those who believe in it… and then someone adds a few key pages that tie some significant amount of the content together into something useful for passive visitors and boom! within 10 days the thing is buzzing with activity. The magnitude of the time spans varies, of course, and noone can predict what the key pages will be, either. So just hang in there and make sure to keep adding any stuff someone else might find useful. At some point, you’ll reach critical mass and the whole thing will explode.

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