The Good, the Bad and the Wiki

Wikis are web pages which anyone can edit. They are classed as “Asynchronous Collaboration” which means that users are collaborating at a different time.

This means that every member of your group has the ability to amend the wiki content if they desire. While the potential for mischief exists, wikis can be surprisingly robust, open-ended and collaborative for groups.

Plus you also have a complete history of who made the changes and you can compare different version or roll back to earlier version. You probably won’t need to use those functions. But they are there just in case.

So, you want to use a wiki but what are the best ways to use them and what are the things to avoid.

 

5 good ways you can use a wiki

  1. Meetings – recording minutes of your meeting as you go along. This saves time trying to write them up after and asking if you have missed anything. The notes are there at the end of the meeting for all the participant to see and add to.
  2. Event coordination – building up the agenda for an event on the wiki means that the organisation of the event can be carried out virtually almost right up to the event itself. It allows many contributors to add to an agenda and allows any amendments to be viewed, added to, or commented on, by all relevant parties.
  3. Fact and frequently asked questions (FAQs) lists – fact lists often benefit from updating and input from those experts who know. In a group, there are potentially hundreds of members who could all add to lists such as FAQs.
  4. Project development – a wiki is like a blank whiteboard space. You have the facility to choose when to finalise a document, consequently, it is a good environment to experiment and to test out ideas in. Ideas can be edited without one person having the laborious job of ‘typing them up’.
  5. Group content authoring – writing a document collaboratively in the traditional sense involves ‘pushing’ a document out to contributors by email. This adds to inbox clutter for everyone, followed by one person cutting and pasting edits together. The same process using a wiki ‘pulls’ people together to undertake that same process. It allows all contributors to see each person’s changes as they are made, and build upon them.

 

5 bad ways you can use a wiki

  1. Forms and Surveys - Those documents that have multiple boxes for people to complete. Copy and pasting them into a wiki will not do it justice and the table format will not look at good as your crafted Form or Survey.
  2. Templates - We all love templates. That’s why templates are normally created in Word or Excel. And when you download them off a website they are normally in that format or as an image. Mostly in Landscape. Wiki pages are portrait in layout. If you have struggled to make the template fit in a word document. You could be wasting your time trying to replicate it on a wiki page.
  3. Tables - We all love tables in a Word or Powerpoint document. You spend time resizing each column to fit and adjusting the text size and the table width. When it comes to a wiki. They are good for very simple tables. But as soon as you start to try and extend the number of columns. Be warned it could unravel very quickly.
  4. Replacing an excel spreadsheet - Excel is a great product and you choose it for those reasons. Wiki’s cannot replace an excel spreadsheet, the table options will not be able to replicate all the cells you would need to create in a format that is easily readable and editable.
  5. Large Documents - Don’t just dump a large document into a wiki. Have you tried to read a 300 page document on a web page. It’s horrible. Think about the people who will be reading it. And you want people to edit and update it. Think about doing it in small batches with a focus during that period of time.

Want to find out more about using the wiki?

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