My Wiki Is the Blair Wiki Project

  • Posted on: 15 May 2011
  • By: admin

I don’t know where to start. How can I get this wiki moving?

Wikis are a form of crowdsourcing, a term that implies taking advantage of “the crowd” to grow your project. Of course, that means being able to appeal to a crowd and have some incentives in place to encourage them to volunteer their time and energy to your project. So, the first steps to consider are who will most benefit from the wiki? Who has the most to contribute? Who is likely to have the time, knowledge, and skills necessary to participate? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, go back to the drawing board.

A lot of wikis start off as local or site-specific projects, powered by friends or co-workers. For example, imagine you’re part of a local group that’s into snowboarding. You might launch a wiki that maps out the best spots for snowboarding, stores that sell equipment, and other such information that will interest your friends. If the project is successful on a local level, there’s a chance it might expand, as other snowboarders from other towns stumble upon your work and decide to join in.

Or imagine yourself in a Shakespeare class. You know there will be a big final exam at the end with questions from all the lectures and readings throughout the semester. You could get together with your classmates to build a wiki study guide. The idea here is that while nobody is likely to know all the potential questions and their answers, everybody should know or check some of them. A wiki like this can help you pool your resources and quickly write a comprehensive document—and probably end up with a much better study guide than any one student could complete by herself.

Bear in mind that most people who use wikis read them but do not contribute. Those who do are very special and should be treated with respect and gratitude. Don’t act like you’re doing them a favor by providing the wiki for them. Instead, do everything possible to make it easy and fun for them to work on your wiki. Don’t be heavy handed with administration, and don’t try to micromanage every page. Try not to ever criticize someone else’s work, even if it’s bad. Instead, focus on praising good work and making sure people who do it know you’re aware and grateful for it. Send out personal notes to your contributors, thanking them for their work and pointing out good things about their contributions. You can also encourage your community to talk to each other by setting up discussion pages, and don’t get upset if the discussion isn’t always strictly on task.