Highlighting the differences between intranet and internet regarding the wiki.
The word "wiki" comes from the Hawaiian language and means "fast". The wiki is one of the oldest tools in the internet. It was once created to publish contents fast and easy and provide multiple authors the possibility to edit the content together. The best known example is wikipedia. It can be seen as the pioneer of Web2.0.
Despite there are several other tools as blogs, wiki still has its right to exist today. More than 10 years ago, Microsoft added the wiki as a tool in SharePoint. It is still available in the cloud / O365 version.
If you want to use a wiki in your company, you should know the differences to the use in the internet. According to our experience, the two biggest challenges are the lack of participation and bad structuring.
Let's take a look at the differences:
1. Motivation of the Authors
BlueBridge deals with the topic "wikis in the company" for more than 10 years now. We have learned fast, that it is not enough to create an empty wiki and hope it will be filled automatically. Participation in an internet wiki is optional and is based on different kinds of motivation. The authors of wikipedia use their spare time to write new entries and double-check others. Employees in a company have clearly predetermined duties. Normally they have no time to write optional entries in a wiki.
Let's take a closer look at one example:
Your company wants to establish a glossary or a wikipedia-like knowledge base for the most important topics and terms. You create an empty wiki and write a mail to your colleagues to ask them to enter their topics. To set a good example, you already write the first entries. Our experience shows the following: Few colleagues will add more entries very fast, another group of colleagues plans to do so in the near future. Generally they won't write an article as their intent gets lost in the daily business. The majority of the employees does not feel concerned to do something / write something. As result, the project itself will die very fast.
Therefore, you have to plan and perform a wiki-project as a normal project. Something, which will work definitely in the internet, must not necessarily work in an intranet scenario. The most important requirement is to instruct your employees and give them time to plan and do the work.
Consequential this will result in further factors for a successful project.
2. Roles and rights
As for all rules, this case also got exceptions. In most wiki-projects you will find following roles and the connected rights. Within SharePoint you can configure the given roles and rights over the permission management directly:
Reader / Viewer
In internet-wikis it is mostly the case, that every reader is in the same part editor; or he can be editor if he wants to. In a company wiki this will not be the case. You got pre-defined / chosen employees which will have a clearly defined task to create articles. In some cases it is possible, that all readers within a company wiki will get editor-rights as well. This would be the case, if you use the wiki as project log. In every other case a reader will only get reader-rights.
The most important role within a wiki is for sure the "editor". He is responsible for the quality and the scope of all entries / articles. But, an editor is not necessarily the one who is creating an article. One of his / her tasks could be to gather possible entries in a company and to create the entries in the wiki. The classical role of an editor in SharePoint is "Member".
We advise you to keep the process of creating and maintaining a wiki easy. However, it may be necessary to name specific reviewers to ensure the quality of the articles. The larger the number of possible readers, the more necessary it is to name reviewers. Often, it is also sufficient for the editors to correct each other. For a reviewer, the same permission is often sufficient as for the editor. Only if they actually create a workflow for the share, the reviewer needs additional rights.
As in all projects, there should also be a project manager in a Wiki project. This assumes the classical project management tasks. It is important at this point to understand that, unlike the Internet, a wiki in the company does not automatically fill. The project manager receives Owner rights in the Site.
The technical administrator does not affect the content of the wiki. He will only make the necessary technical settings in the site. Typically, the technical administrator has rights of a SiteCollection Administrator in SharePoint.
Of course, a concrete person may have multiple roles at the same time.
3. Structure and table of contents
In an Internet wiki the structure of a wiki is the result of a process of authors. In a company Wiki, on the other hand, a larger standardization is striven for. Templates are often an advantage here. In SharePoint, the structure of the wiki comes from the individual pages (ASPX Pages).
In concrete terms, this means that the "content specification" should be defined in advance. If, for example, a governance plan or a quality manual is to be implemented in a wiki, it is advisable to define the individual chapters at the beginning. This can be done in the core team in a first phase of the project. Would be the best to create the pages in parallel.
Sometimes it is also sufficient to agree to certain rules on the structure. In a project diary, the rule can be called: A new page for each meeting. In a glossary, the rule can be to take each term on its own page or even all the terms with the same initial letter.
It is necessary to look at following:
In a wiki it is easy to change texts. The structure itself can not be changed this easily.
An exception to this is the following: If a topic is very new and unstructured, it can be the task of the Wiki project to find and elaborate exactly this structure. In this case, experience shows that at least in the first phase, all contributors should have write permission.
4. Process and lifecycle
Unlike the Internet, the scope of the wiki has to be circumvented. On the Internet, the scope of a wiki results from the motivation of the participants. This is not useful in the company, since the Wiki is followed by a clear task. The scope of the wiki has to be determined from the beginning. However, this can be done in several packages or project stages.
Because a great commonality between wikis on the Internet and intranet is that a Wiki should live. It is to further develop and improve. As described, the structure of a wiki must be managed like a project. There must also be a process or project plan. Due to the many different possibilities and differences between individual companies, it is difficult to define a general procedure here.
However, it is generally true that one differentiates between the two major phases:
The goal of this first phase is to create enough content to make it interesting for readers. The error is caused to open the wiki too early. The readers, who first look at it, do not find sufficient content. This makes the wiki uninteresting and they do not come back.
Care and development
Often forgotten is the care of the wiki. For the success of a good wiki it is necessary that it remains up-to-date. Therefore, the maintenance phase should be planned at the beginning of a project. In this phase, all editors do not necessarily have to be active. It is often enough for individual authors to update the pages and to enter new content.
This phase can be supported by giving the individual pages a life cycle. Pages can become obsolete and forced into a review process. How to manage the lifecycle of a wiki contribution is described in another article.