Blogging and wiki use on intranets
October 4, 2005 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Do you work for a medium or large company? Does your company have an intranet? Does it use blogging tools and wikis? If so....

I'm an intranet developer and am almost certain that introducing small-scale (initially) blogging to give better communication and more immediate feedback from the business to the authors would be a good thing. I'm also fairly convinced that using Wikis would help alleviate much of the "necessity" to store endless Office documents in shared drives. My colleagues aren't quite so sure and are concerned that the openess of the Wiki format, that anyone can edit a document, there's virtually no version control and it could be dangerous because it would lead to non-experts updating content incorrectly which others would use to a potentially damaging effect. With the blogging, they're afaid that standards of written communication would drop. To be fair some of the wiki ones are, I believe, legimate concerns.

I really need some help in gathering evidence, good and bad, of the use of these formats on an intranet. So, was it good for you or was it horrible mistake? How did you implement it or how has your company implemented it for you? Tales of joy and woe, I'll take them all!
posted by TheDonF to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
this thread and possibly the person who asked that question might be able to help you.
posted by advil at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2005

At a previous company, I used a wiki on an intranet. I believe it was FlexWiki.

Editing documnts in a wiki is pure hell. Tables are very difficult to insert. It's not worth the trouble versus the simplicity of just sharing a drive with word docs.

But maybe you could find a way to improve that.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on October 4, 2005

Try Groove...
posted by SweetJesus at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2005

We have found Confluence to be a useful wiki in our (small) company.
posted by trillion at 2:01 PM on October 4, 2005

We set up wiki software here, but have found that the knowledgebase concept and style is much more appropriate for most business process. We're using eGroupware but there's plenty of stuff out there.

I think you'll find many will provide versioning and document attachments.
posted by phearlez at 2:31 PM on October 4, 2005

We've started to make good use of the wiki that is part of every Trac project. Plus it integrates with out Subversion code repositories. Obviously the developers have picked right up on it, but my real hope is to sell the non-devs on managing docs there to encourage true versioning (as opposed to 45 copies with different names) and central document management.
posted by yerfatma at 2:52 PM on October 4, 2005

We're looking to try a threaded message board which we're hoping will be easier for less technical people to understand and has the benefit of built in moderation tools to address some of your manager's concerns.

We're also worried about it being a time sink for employees, but we'd rather offer the tool and see how it goes than withhold it out of fear.
posted by willnot at 3:03 PM on October 4, 2005

Small-to-mid-size company. We have an intranet. No blogs or wikis. All knowledge is handed down from on-high by the CEO.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2005

I work for a large company and we're in the process of implementing blog/wiki functionality. We're using Wordpress and were originally going to use MediaWiki but didn't really have a good way to integrate the two so we've decided to use the "pages" feature of Wordpress and modify WP to allow users to edit each other's documents for the wiki portion.

The higher-ups who have seen it have been excited so far so no tales of woe yet! We'll see when it's fully released.
posted by undertone at 3:10 PM on October 4, 2005

We tried using a Wiki, but only developers ever bothered to use it at all, we are experiencing a much better intranet usage with Plone.

Plone is a content management system with live document editing using WSIWYG, structured text, or raw markup. It has workflow features, such as "Joe's manager has to approve his documents, but Cindy can publish her own. It has permissions such as "No one but HR can edit HR documents." I think it is one of the most activily developed-for CMS systems around, and it is free.

Even the developers, having lost our precious wiki, are reluctantly beginning to use Plone.

Oh, and there are blogging and wiki plugins available. Take a look.
posted by Invoke at 4:05 PM on October 4, 2005

I've had almost universal failure with such concepts for internal communication. Most staff are excited about having a place to go for information, but refuse to even consider contributing to it.

For some, this is due to slow typing speed. They're rather just chat around the water cooler. I might suggest some sort of audio or video blog type service, but most people are very camera shy in a business environment.

Maybe if someone setup a way to email useful snippets into a knowledge base, people could forward answers that they manage to extract from others via email, though I suspect this would simply reduce the number of answers people would be willing to give via email.

In sort, this is a psychology problem, not a technical one.
posted by krisjohn at 5:17 PM on October 4, 2005

At our small company only the developers use the wiki that we've had for about the last year. The rest of the people (especially marketing and sales) really balk at uploading documents through a web interface as well as the relative lack of formatting on a wiki page (and wiki words just confuse them).

It's not shiny enough for them apparently.

We tried both Jot and JSPWiki with our own page template on top and ended up sticking with JSPWiki. We find it useful, but it doesn't have the acceptance that we'd like in the company.

The non-techies liked groove, but the developers hated it cause it's so slow and bloated. There were also periodic synching problems with it as well.

I'm interested to see if there are any other middle ground suggestions in this thread as it would be nice to have something easy that would appeal to both techies and non-techies. I think that there's a niche here, but that it isn't satisfied by the current offerings that I'm aware of.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 5:49 PM on October 4, 2005

Where I work we use wikis quite a bit. We use TWiki which works well.

It is a perl script that also uses RCS for version control. You can also set up instant notification via a plugin that can be used so that some people can see when their topics have been modified. There are also some permissions.

Editing it has put some people off, including technical people, but it is pretty well used.

I'd recommend it.

I'd also not recomend plone. I've found that it takes over everything and is overkill for what it provides.
posted by sien at 7:00 PM on October 4, 2005

In my office, the Wiki is used by the guy who proposed & built it, and the manager who OK'd it. Every one else treats it as the running joke it is - "It's on the Wiki" is code for "It's lost / I have no idea / Find it yer darn self"

If you are a Windows shop, look at Microsoft Sharepoint Services (not Portal). It's a free add-on to Win2K3 Server, and it is something that non-techies will use. It also installs in 20 minutes and there are lots of pre-built usage templates for it. (Not a shill, I just love the product)

But dear lord, don't do a Wiki. I've never bothered to figure out which one we've got, but it looks like it might've been "cool" in 1996 or so.. Does that help?
posted by Triode at 7:40 PM on October 4, 2005

I'll second Triode's suggestion - I work for a small company. Sharepoint sets itself up. Easy to use, rather intuitive if you've ever used a M$oft product. It is quick and dirty, but can be very acceptable.
posted by AllesKlar at 8:56 PM on October 4, 2005

At my current company we have used a wiki, scoop (message board type software), nntp groups, mailing lists, irc, and one guy had a blog. Most of these got started when some developer decided to set it up on his own workstation and tell a few others. Only the wiki, irc, and mailing lists continued in use after the first few months. They are pretty popular among the developers and engineers, and even our few managers use them. Our office has a pretty technical culture, though.

Wiki works pretty well as an easy way to get information up on the intranet and into the hands of others without a lot of process. You can add process on top of it, but it depends on people knowing the process -- the wiki doesn't really enforce many rules. We mainly use it for project tracking, specs, and informal documentation. Things tend to hang around after their useful date, so it's helpful to have a a gardener weeding things out occasionally.

IRC is great for near real time questions and discussions, because it doesn't interrupt anyone, yet everyone eventually looks at it or joins in at some point. It's nice to be able to read a technical discussion later, without having to participate. It also makes the cube farm somewhat quieter. We found it necessary to add an #offtopic channel though.

I found the developer's blog very interesting reading. It was like a chatty public log book. It described what he was working on and things he had encountered, especially parts of the code that bugged him and why. It was a way to learn about interesting things you wouldn't ordinarily think to talk about.

I think these have worked well because we kept them in our small team. I imagine we'd all clam up if we knew the whole company could look in. There's always some information filtering between different parts of the company. It would be nice to have more openness, but also distracting.
posted by blue grama at 9:35 PM on October 4, 2005

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