Bringing a wiki to my workplace.
June 7, 2004 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Any advice out there for introducing a wiki into a workplace? Currently, I've found these success stories and this article describes a similar situation. But there's an additional complication: I am a powerless drone. Any anecdotes from either side of the fence?
posted by sleslie to Human Relations (12 answers total)
I second the request for any advice. It seems brilliant for storing information but keeping it liquid and up-to-date. Further, are there any free implementations of wikis (I'm a beginner at this sort of thing)? Does anyone have a link to a how-to? I'm googling the wrong things.
posted by loquax at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2004

Try here. They all seem to be open-source.

As for setting it up, maybe you could run it from your own PC and see how it does (of course, this could be a problem with IP addresses - someone else might be able to help). Then, if it gets popular, you could put a case in to host it properly in-house.
posted by ralawrence at 10:06 AM on June 7, 2004

I too, am quite interested to hear more stories. The success stories at are encouraging.

Working in the IT dept of a large organization, I'm finding it's very difficult to keep ahead with the speed of business. We are still very backwards in our development cycles and processes. While technology has moved ahead, our processes are the same ones that were in place when we were developing for monolithic mainframes systems 20 years ago!

We have however started to use vendor's knowledge/content management solutions (namely QuickPlace which I believe is Lotus Notes-based), but it still lacks greatly with far too much control and red tape (I am unable to edit or update documents!)

Can anybody who has used both give a good analysis of Quickplace versus Wiki so if the discussion comes up, I am able to create a good discussion?
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 10:53 AM on June 7, 2004

Powerless part-time drone here. I installed instiki on my work machine and gave the URL to some of my co-workers with only a half hearted introduction to wikis by myself. No one was familiar with the wiki concept, and everyone dropped it as a resource after the first look around. (I had added some content and meta-instructions on use of the wiki to 'prime the pump', so to speak, but it didn't work.)

I'm the only person using the wiki, but I still find it a valuable resource for the work I do. Whenever I learn a trick for a situation that I might forget 2 months down the road, I put it on the wiki. It's made me a more efficient worker.
posted by reishus at 11:09 AM on June 7, 2004

A wiki hosted out of my personal space (still!) has become a successful and popular tool among a couple dozen developers.

I primed the pump with the following:

Our group frequently does lunchtime takeout. I used the wiki to link in the menus of the places we use, and we required people to place their orders on a wiki page, forcing them to at least learn the basics. In the long run this turned out not to be a great idea (no clobber protection on most wikis) but it was a good icebreaker.

When we added a team member to our group, we moved the team documentation he would need into a wiki so he could update it as he learned things and found inadequacies in the existing instructions. This quickly became the authoritative resource since it was the most up to date and, perhaps more importantly, was searchable.

The searchable thing seems to be the most immediate selling point of a wiki over static web content, since almost no organizations take the time to spider and host an indexing service for their intranet. Most people don't really care about adding new content; everybody cares about being able to find content.
posted by bradhill at 11:33 AM on June 7, 2004

Good to hear the "failure stories" too... I am taking what I read with a grain of salt. So far I've had an impromptu meeting with some of the younger developers/QA ppl here at work and they are very open to these new ideas.

Proper training with using the Wiki will most likely give you more success. Also.. I've read that the more focused you make the Wiki, the more likely it will be used.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:34 AM on June 7, 2004

They're both pretty saturated with corporate hype, but you might find some encouragement here and here.
posted by fuzz at 11:47 AM on June 7, 2004

Like reishus, I've seen wikis be set up in a burst of enthusiasm and then die, because noone contributes to them. If there's no commitment, you can create a great personal wiki, and then if you're lucky, other people will start to use it and modify it. Don't count on anyone else to add to it though.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:00 PM on June 7, 2004

I successfully replaced some Microsoft Word based technical documentation with a Wiki at my company. Works great! Very easy way to sneak it in since it's clearly so much easier to maintain and work with.
posted by Voivod at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2004

And if you use a Wiki that supports ReST (ReStructured Text) markup, you can then use DocUtils to generate PDF, LaTeX, HTML, and other output.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:11 PM on June 7, 2004

Like reishus, I set up a wiki. Other people in the organisation have shown some interest in it, but it's only really used by me. That being said, I find it really useful, and it has made my job easier.

I use Open Wiki which is great for quick editing, adding tables & blocks of code. The only downside to it is that it's quite hard to set up, and if you double click on a page (to highlight a word) it thinks you want to edit the page.
posted by seanyboy at 3:13 PM on June 7, 2004

Thanks. I like the "personal wiki" method. It seems a DaleCarnegie approach would show greater rewards than shoving wikis down people's throats.

(aside: I tried to demo wikis to the boss today, and wikipedia was down. What wonderful timing.)
posted by sleslie at 10:02 PM on June 7, 2004

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