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Knowledge sharing using wiki webs

Has anyone have experience on using 'wiki webs' (e.g. twiki http://twiki.org) for knowledge sharing, collaboration etc in your organization.

I am setting up wiki web using twiki for technical knowledge sharing. I need some tips on what to do and what not to do !!!

Nitin Bhide
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Seed the Wiki with stuff. Make up conversations if you need to. People won't, in my experience, feel they have permission to add stuff until other people have. So you'll have to make up those other people to start with...

Also, don't be surprised if the main use to start with is humour - it's the least large entry step, posting the "embarassing photos from last year's christmas party" sort of things.

Katie Lucas
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Looks like Twiki addresses the problem I've seen with other wiki software that permits absolutely anyone to edit a web page.  That's fine for small communities, but not for larger ones.

How secure is  Twiki access control?  Can one, for example, get around it by viewing the page source and then writing some Javascript?

Bruce Perry
Thursday, April 17, 2003

I'm using a Wiki for development of a web-based game ( http://www.stun-software.com/wiki/wiki.pl?HomePage ).  Myself and a couple of friends use it to post ideas, feedback from demos, and status on development.  It's been invaluable to us.

Bruce:  I don't understand why you claim that Wiki doesn't scale up.  There are Wiki communities like that on Ward's Wiki and Wikipedia that have hundreds of active participants, and anyone in the world can edit any page at any time.  It works fine.  Or are you referring to communities larger than that?

Brent P. Newhall
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Bruce disagrees with the insecure nature of wikis. I can see his point, although practice shows that responsible people will be responsible with the wiki. Hell, if you have a griefer on your internal wiki, wouldn't that be a good reason to think they should be fired anyway?

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, April 17, 2003

We use a wiki at work and I also maintain one for OpenInteract [1], both using TWiki. AFAIK the authentication can't be subverted by javascript since you're using HTTP authentication, and the authorization mechanism is all handled server-side.

It can be difficult to get the site in a state so people feel comfortable with contributing.  The best approach I've found it to just add add add, particularly for small topics that people might feel more at ease modifying.

[1] http://openinteract.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/twiki/view/OI/WebHome

Chris Winters
Thursday, April 17, 2003

We are using a Wiki internally to share knowledge and another one externally to communicate with a customer that we are doing a lot of services work for.  The internal one barely gets used.  I don't think anyone ever really bought into the concept internally.

The customer wiki seems to be working well, though.  It seems to mostly be used for posting links to other documents, but there are also some question and answer pages and a few that are just informational.  I wish we had a few more of those "just informational" pages and fewer of the link pages, but it's working.  We got everyone to use it by making "Put it on the wiki" our mantra.  Anytime someone wanted to e-mail us something, we'd tell them to put it on the wiki.  If they wanted something from us, we'd tell them it would be on the wiki.  They have to get over the initial uncertainty ("You mean I can just edit this webpage directly?"), but once they do you find it's pretty easy to use.

One thing I would recommend is making it someone's responsibility to clean it up occasionally.  We have a few obsolete pages on our wiki that really just decrease the signal to noise ratio and a few other pages that need to be split up.

One-Armed Bandit
Thursday, April 17, 2003

At my former employer we used Twiki to share knowledge and also for an occasional laugh (Such as when one employee declared himself MojoJojo ruler of all and posted in length in  our wiki-web about his future plans for the demise of all earthlings except those that could feed him). It was a small orgranization with less that 100 employees total and the security on each page was pretty relaxed. It worked very well IMO for that organization and I would recommend using it or a similiar system as a knowledge base. The company went under unfortunately but that wiki still lives on hosted by one of the former emplyees and some of us still use it.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Require its use.
Sounds simple, but until you get people using it, they don't.  We put all our documentation on the wiki and I specifically like twiki because of the plug-ins.    However, people do not immediately think to use it until everything is there.

I am not suggesting you take every piece you have and put it there as a project, just make it happen as you go.  Within six months, if you perservere, it will not be "do you know where "X" is?" It is always on the site.

Provide Personal Space:
Don't get hung up if someone creates their own page and put there own "stuff" there.  Yes, it is a corporate resource,  and you don't want them starting a porn-wiki, but anything I would put on a post it, I throw on my personal page.

Provide external access
Okay, we blew it.  We put all the documentation there, and then got rid of the on-call books.  The first week, enlightenment hit, when we realized you could not access the wiki when dialed in.  "D'oh!"

Organize
The beauty of wiki is instant gratification.  However, some level of organization will make your life easier.  On the main start page, provide a list of immediate areas, then drill down a level, maybe two.  After that most people will be able to find anything without the search.

Protect
Certain documents need protection.  In a way this can be "anti-wiki", but it is not.  Employees should not be rewriting corporate policy (okay, maybe they should, but lets just say this is not what you want), provide security around those types of documents.

Let anyone change it
No, I am not neurotic (at least I don't think so).  Except in the most extreme cases,  and I mean REALLY EXTREME, do not protect documents.  You can always go back to an earlier version.  My admin hates grammatical errors (I must be her worst nightmare).  Letting her fix the tech notes when she sees something, benefits everyone.

Protect your data
No, I am not neurotic.  This has to do with the server.  Put twiki on a box that is backed up and mirrored.  The idea will die a quick death if you put it on a "spare PC"  and it dies losing all the data.  Aside from the loss,  by nature people will not trust it to "keep the important stuff."  That is really bad.

Mike Gamerland
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Regarding the locking of documents:  This is why I recommend keeping both a Wiki *and* regular website pages.  There should be very few regular webpages, but those are the ones that can have un-changeable content like corporate policies or financial statements.

Besides, the Wiki has to be stored on a web server anyway, so the ability to host regular webpages is built in.

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, April 18, 2003

My experiment with wiki at work wasn't a success. Some
people use it, but in general people just didn't get it.
The ideas of automatic links, document mode,  reorganizing,
etc are very different than anything else most people have
every used. 

Personally i love wiki, but email is king and is very difficult
to compete with.

valraven
Friday, April 18, 2003

I am just now starting to use a wiki in my work; in particular I am using Zwiki, a product (module) for Zope.

I love it.  I was already using Zope and Squishdot to get our internal customers informed and involved in development, as well as developing portals linked off that site for our technical users to access web based tools [I build tools primarily for internal core business support].  Now I have a very simple yet powerful way of keeping track of everything, as well as keep dialog going between me and my developer cohorts.  Zwiki includes a very simple issue tracker that I have started to use (nice color coded and built-in search/filter capabilities, as well as configurable to a certain extent).

I was swamped with email and was losing track of everything, trying to keep it in todo lists with links to files on disk etc...it just wasn't working for me.  The best thing about the wiki is the flexibility to instantly make changes, update pages, or add new content at the drop of a hat.  With traditional web pages, or even some of the blog and bulletinboard type systems, the flexibility was not there [granted, those types of things have their place - but I needed to get organized yesterday!] and publishing can be time consuming.  Not so with wiki. 

Anonymous Coward
Thursday, December 04, 2003

this woulod the the s tory of the  cectury..hahahahaha Nobdy stupid enough to believe  it..

Jo Browqn
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

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