I’ve been doing some research for an article for the STC Intercom based on the interview I did with a friend of mine who does maintenance on the MOTO Q wiki. The article will come out this fall and I can’t wait to see if any rousing discussion appears on the STC forums. In the meantime, I want to continue to blog about wikis because I want to continue to research their use in the technical publications world.
I have had an interest in wikis for technical documentation for a couple of years now. There are a couple of good discussions on wikis for technical documentation from February 2007 on Tom Johnson’s I’d Rather Be Writing Blog as well as The Write Time blog. Tom’s post talks about using wikis to help with the documentation process. In response, there’s a wonderful entry by Lars Trieloff about exactly how a writer uses wikis for technical documentation.
While my STC Intercom article doesn’t talk about the internal wikis I’ve used for documentation tasks, as an Agile team member, I did find that the wiki housed information while development was ongoing and I also edited pages to keep them updated as I discovered something in the code that didn’t match the wiki.
It’s funny, in an early blog post I wrote on the internal blogs at BMC I said that I did not see how wikis would be used successfully for technical publications. I have since changed my once low opinion of wikis but I still see them supplementing other documentation, not substituting completely for technical documentation. I’d welcome discussion about wiki as standalone or supplemental end-user documentation. What do you think? Should the merits of wiki for certain products win out as the exact right documentation for that particular product especially one either related to an Agile methodology or social media? Or are wikis relegated to an upgrade to the customer support forum with a kludgey way of entering the information and no good method for outputting an information deliverable worth reading?