But why use a wiki?

I absolutely love having conversations like the one I had yesterday afternoon. A colleague called to “pick my brains” (of whatever might be left) about using a wiki for a work group. The conversation started with, “But why not just keep using the Sharepoint team site?”

What I loved is that this was a robust and open conversation … my friend was totally open to the possibility of changing her mindset …
“We have worked hard on this process document. We wouldn’t want just anyone to go in and change it.”

My reply – why not?

Followed by a bit of silence.

So I ask, “What if I found something that was incorrect in that document? Or – what if after several months you figure out that there’s a problem with a process stage?”
And we continued the conversation about the benefits / advantages / disadvantages / trade-offs in using a wiki or a document sharing site like Sharepoint. (by the way, we do not have the most current version of Sharepoint and is primarily used as a document repository that are project-specific).

Some of the key points (to my mind) that we discussed:

  • Deciding which to use is a matter of coordination (document repository) or collaboration (wiki).
  • Everyone acts with integrity (this is in a corporate environment) – and we must start from the point of trusting that people act with integrity. It would be very unlikely that someone would deliberately mess around with a corporate wiki (your contributions are not anonymous).
  • Consider the amount of central or singular control – you want only one person to administer? or is it better that no one is really in charge?
  • On a wiki … there’s no such thing as missing information – the person who discovers this just hasn’t added it yet. You see something wrong or missing … fix it!
  • You can always revert to a previous version in the wiki.
  • When you really need actual documents (Word or PDF or Excel or PPT) a repository is the better choice. But don’t rule out a copy/paste into a wiki page or wiki article

Not everyone in the organization is “with the program” … but it is quite nice to talk with someone who wants to learn and understand …

About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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One Response to But why use a wiki?

  1. Matt Wiseley says:

    I get so many customers who are considering Sharepoint as an option in their search for a web collaboration environment. I haven’t used Sharepoint in a few years, but last time I checked it was very old school – akin to a shared network drive. Not a picture of collaborative technology. My response is often, “why would you use Sharepoint for collaborating on information?”

    Most wikis, including EditMe, support libraries of uploaded files, so you lose nothing by starting there with a wiki. Often, commentary and discussion around the uploaded documents begins to trump the value of the documents themselves. In the end, being able to edit the stuff right there in your browser and see what others have contributed, that’s where the collaboration happens, IMO.

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