Emerging wiki use – now and future wikis

As you might have seen on The Content Wrangler recently, I wrote a response to JoAnn Hackos’ article, Is there a wiki in your future? and Scott Abel chose the title for my special contribution to his site. I think the title of this blog post – Emerging wiki use – now and future wikis – would have been a better title than “Anne Gentle vs JoAnn Hackos” but unfortunately I learned that his blogging system would cause broken links if he changed the title after I requested a title change. Ah, content management systems, why do they break your heart? 🙂

I do want to make sure that readers know that JoAnn and I are not at odds about wiki use at all – rather, we are both trying to find the best practices for building a wiki that will thrive. My thought on the “vs” in the title is that it is intended to show the polarization on the issues surrounding wikis and technical publications. JoAnn and I have emailed back and forth this week to continue to discuss and find that we are not on opposite sides of the issue.

I’ve happily read the blog entries from other writers that read both articles, with my favorite reference being Sarah O’Keefe’s “eponymous rebuttal” phrase. Subtle and clever, and sent me to m-w.com, so I love it.

A neat outcome so far from this article is that I had a discussion with someone who had experienced something similar to JoAnn’s scenario. One of my readers described a situation where he was creating and updating wiki pages, trying to extract and describe an exact algorithm for an online game. Apparently in gaming communities, the developers can be very tight-lipped about the exact way that game play works (weaponry or armor for example), and the challenge to the gamers is to figure out the best strategies based on their experiences with the game. Without arbitration on the wiki (or customer support forum), though, outright content wars ensue and the wiki content about the algorithm becomes untrustworthy.

It’s a fascinating example. I’d like to find more examples related to technical content to find out what arbitration policies would work well. Let me know your experiences in this area – have you had a need for arbitration on your favorite wiki yet?


  • Todd Katz
    September 15, 2007 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the security of information on a wiki, not everyone may be aware that enterprise wikis both track changes at page level and also provide the ability to set spaces and pages as private, read-only, or read-write based on login and the group you are a member of. So, as Anne suggests, the comparison with wikipedia is not very appropriate for technical documentation scenarios.

  • September 18, 2007 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks Todd. I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of using Wikipedia for comparison to figure out their success factors, but, I’m constantly on the lookout for a better, more appropriate comparison wiki for technical documentation examples.

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