Originally published on June 27, 2017

40th in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 51 in KM 102)

Wikis: sites that allow users to easily add, remove, edit, and change most available content — effective for collaborative writing, self-service web page creation, and shared maintenance of information

A wiki is a web page that can be edited by anyone, thus making it easy to collaborate on writing a document, creating a website, or collecting information on a topic. It has been most successfully used in Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia that has achieved dramatic levels of contribution and use.

Within organizations, wikis have been used to create internal equivalents of Wikipedia for knowledge about the organization and its activities. They are very well-suited for the production of documentation by teams of writers and editors, as the shared editing capability is ideal for this task. Wikis are also useful for collecting diverse inputs, links to other sites, and multiple points of view.

Attempts to use wikis for knowledge repositories have been less successful. Whereas the alphabet provides the standard taxonomy for Wikipedia, other taxonomies are more difficult to impose and maintain using wikis. Since anyone can add a new wiki page, it is difficult to control the proliferation of such pages. Text entry in a new wiki page is generally unstructured, which is less desirable than form entry for repositories.

Participation in wikis is another challenge. They are often created by a committed individual who hopes that others will share a similar passion for the topic and add to the content. When these others fail to materialize, the wiki ends up being maintained primarily by the original creator, and thus is more similar to a blog or website.

Wikis can be victimized by vandalism or contentious arguments between opposing factions. In Wikipedia, talk pages are used to discuss an article and to attempt to reach agreement on a neutral end result. Inside an organization, if disagreement about a topic exists, it could result in content thrashing as the differing viewpoints are alternately restored to prominence.

If you are interested in using wikis as part of a KM program, pick an application where they fit well, and use a pilot implementation to see how they work. If the application performs acceptably, user participation is good, and the desired results are achieved, it can be expanded to additional users and applications. If not, you can capture the lessons learned and move on to the next pilot.

Functionality

  • Article — main text
  • Talk — discussion about the article
  • Edit — anyone can edit the article
  • Revision History — list of all version, with the ability to undo changes and revert to a prior version
  • Search
  • Automatic generation of links and new pages

Use Cases

Examples

1. HP

2. Deloitte

3. Knowledge Management

Insights

1. Choosing the right KM tools by Tony Byrne: Wikis now power some of the most definitive knowledge bases within and beyond the enterprise.

2. Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not by Brian Lamb: Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing. This ethic is at the heart of “SoftSecurity,” which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order.”

3. Gartner Market Profile: Enterprise Wiki Platforms, 2010 by Larry Cannell: Wikis once helped define Enterprise 2.0, yet they have not been as visibly successful as other Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blogs).

4. Seven Tips to Success with a Corporate Wiki by Gil Yehuda of Forrester Research

  • Pick a Software Delivery Model
  • Keep Track of Who’s Who: Authenticating Users
  • Give IT What They Want
  • Plan for Mistakes
  • Manage (and Follow) Change
  • Plan for Wiki Success
  • Consider Extra Features

5. Enterprise Social Networking 2010 Market Overview by Rob Koplowitz of Forrester Research: Wiki Adoption Will Reach 45% In 2010

“What are your firm’s plans to officially support or adopt Wikis (enterprise or departmental), whether for internal or external (client-facing) purposes?”

  • Don’t know/Not interested 26%
  • Interested but no plans 22%
  • Implemented, not expanding 17%
  • Expanding/upgrading implementation 19%
  • Planning to implement in the next 12 months 9%

6. What blogs and wikis bring to business and knowledge management by Bill Ives

A wiki is:

  • is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser
  • supports hyperlinks and uses a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly
  • is unusual among group communication tools since you can edit both the organization of contributions, as well as the content itself
  • allows all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors
  • is particularly useful for brainstorming sessions since by definition, these sessions are a group activity
  • is very useful for consensus building such as agreeing on meeting minutes.

Blogs vs. wikis

  • Wiki content is ego-less, time-less, and never finished — e.g. Wikipedia or project meeting notes kept in a wiki
  • Blog content is written in the personal voice and is author(s)-centric with responding comments, all content remains in searchable archive
  • Both defining features are derivative of the technology and not required by the tool

Resources

Platforms

1. Here are sources of information to help choose wiki software or a hosting service:

2. Vendors

3. 5 Wiki Tools for Building Online Communities by Ann Augustine

4. 5 Popular Wiki Software Products by Sameer Bhatia

5. 10 Free Wiki Software Platforms or Wiki Engines by Sanjeev Mishra

6. Wiki tools are not all the same by Tony Byrne

Books

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/