Blog, Wiki, Intranets : Any experience?
December 22, 2005 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Is anyone using blogs and wikis at work on a corporate intranet? I'd love to hear about how successful they are? What kind of projects do you use them for?
posted by jonthegeologist to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In past positions wikis were always great for keeping "that information" that previously would be folklore and black magic written down and updated - i.e. a new hire comes in and learns how to do the initial 10 tasks, so he takes 5 minutes and writes the "New Hire Checklist".

machine lists. CVS configs. meeting notes. you name it, it goes there, and it's all searchable in one place - the only problem is with official documentation and policy, since you may or may not have a problem hosting that in that environment. it needs to be clear what is and is not, in other words.

in my current position we just have pretty much everything to do with most aspects of blogging ever, so I figure that's a positive vote too.
posted by kcm at 11:05 AM on December 22, 2005

My company uses wikis for both internal projects and our open source projects. They seem to work well, and I'm noticing more and more internal documentation migrating from our project tracking software to the wikis, which is great.
posted by cmonkey at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2005

Oh, and they seem to use MediaWiki, if you're looking for software.
posted by cmonkey at 11:16 AM on December 22, 2005

I use blogs on our intranet for specific teams (office sustainability coordinators, HR coordinators) that are dispersed geographically. It gives them a central spot to ask questions, post topics, etc., that is open for others to read and comment on. It's more focused and friendly than forums.

We also have a couple wikis for documentation for specific groups and tasks. They aren't used much, however.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2005

At my old job, I set up a Confluence-based wiki installation. Besides being one of the few wikis that would integrate w/ our LDAP and SSO, it had a lot of very nice features that helped adoption: auto-hierarchy creation, multiple spaces, simple page commenting and file attachment (and more importantly, file-attachment search), a blog/news feature built in, and flexible, delegatable access control. It also had a pretty full featured XML-RPC API, which made it possible to easily script through stuff without digging through JARs.

At my new job, there is a centralized Wiki system built on Twiki. At first glance, the featuresets and scale are similar, but in practice I've found Twiki is harder to find and organize things, especially across spaces, and most annoyingly, has no API. There's hierarchy creation, but no site TOC plugin, and I don't have access to fix these things, so it's a little frustrating.

Here's a comparion chart:

As far as uses, definitely everything that kcm mentioned. The biggest things (that wikis do to different degrees of wellness):
* searching to find important info you put in
* a notification stream to track what changes / notes / comments are being made within a project / group / org
* a searchable relatively easy to use (if clicky) doc repository
* keeping meeting agendas/notes/followups
* for projects, integration w/ bug tracking / checkins are also nice (Trac does this very well for single projects, but has its own weaknesses that make it less suitable for general use)
posted by lhl at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2005

The company I work for uses a twiki for a lot of things, HR and personnel stuff is a fairly large component, but the box spends most of its cycles tracking our XP development process -- there are twiki plug-ins for managing stories, displaying a developer's tasks on his home page, etc.
posted by kindall at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2005

Sun Microsystems uses blogs, wikis, twikis, etc. for all sorts of things. The internal blogs are for all (and any) sorts of projects, as they can be set up by individuals or for entire groups. Functionally, the internal blogs use the same publishing mechanism and offer the same features as the external blogs do.
posted by diastematic at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2005

Sorry about the self link, but I wrote about my experiences with an internal blog last year. It's caught on pretty well here for personal note-keeping.
posted by Remy at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2005

We use a wiki. It's really good for things like "this is the proceedure to set up all the paths and tools and stuff needed to turn a new machine into workstation hooked into the project", and stuff like that already mentioned. But we also build stuff with tools that we are concurrently developing in order to be able to build that stuff. In places I've worked without a wiki, this has been a nightmare - even with someone spending half their time writing documentation, you've really got to be there and keeping up with developements or just fall further behind. With the wiki, the problem of course remains, but it's somewhat mitigated. Building a project with a toolset concurrently under development just isn't going to have a good solution to the problems that presents, but of the poor solutions, a wiki seems to be one of the best.
One (obvious) drawback of the wiki is that with hundreds of people contributing as they have a few moments free, the organisation is fairly fractured and inconsistant, leading to it not being all that unusual for someone to check the wiki for something, not find it, and so assume it's not there, when it is, it's just someplace weird. Hardly a perfect solution, but it beats "the only way to really know the tools is to have been hired at the beginning of the project, a year before you got here".
posted by -harlequin- at 1:01 PM on December 22, 2005

Response by poster: Would any of you that posted from experience of using blogs and wikis at work be able to *show* me how it works? I'm intranet:internet controller at Coca-Cola Enterprises - I want to see some wikis/blogs in action? My email is on my profile - get in touch if you can oblige.

I'm based in the UK but often across to the US - GA, NY best, but I'm prepared to travel.

posted by jonthegeologist at 1:58 PM on December 22, 2005

My company uses wikis as repositories for project information, developing documentation, and departmental-specific information.

We use internally developed blogging software to handle our news releases, mostly because it allows the people who actually care to subscribe to an rss feed.

In the case of coca-cola, rss feeds seem a simpler way to handle Email Alerts for things like SEC filings and what not. I know I'd love if more publicly traded companies did that.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:35 PM on December 22, 2005

Full disclosure: I work for a service-based Wiki offering company that in the interest of propriety I will not post the name of here.

That being said, one of the reasons I came to work for them was because we'd used wikis and blogs heavily in my last company (JSPWiki, migrating over to MediaWiki). We used the Wiki for everything -- Documentation, project planning, blogging, calendaring, everything, to great effect. Especially for documentation and project planning in particular it was better than anything I'd ever used. We had over 10,000 pages in there, and much of it very structured and useful.

It was great to be able to build documentation organically, although it took some measure of self control on the part of the authors; we had to setup standards for certai types of docs, and insist that employees adhere to certain conventions -- Conventions not enforced inherently by the application. But with some education in that regard everyone was/is happy, and overall I'd say it was (and is) one of the most useful productivity tools of the modern age.

Oh yeah, last job was a 250 person company, and our department was probably the heaviest users of the Wiki; we were resposible for probably 1/3 of all pages, and our dept. was about 30 people.
posted by wolftrouble at 4:23 PM on December 22, 2005

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