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Wiki: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit Paperback – September 17, 2010
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The book starts explaining wiki technology and how to plan a collaboration project. Porter lists wiki uses by individuals and organizations of different types and sizes. He offers several questions will help define the scope of the reader's project. He presents "the good" and "the bad" of the technology, and how a proper plan and setup can overcome perceived disadvantages of using a wiki.
Next, Porter deals with initial growth of the wiki. Before there is any content there is no incentive to use the tool. Porter recommends seeding the wiki with content that every member of the community uses and that is updated on a regular basis, such as a company directory, project to-do lists, company procedures and style-books. Once there is a small but critical body of documents, the benefits of the wiki become compelling. Editing and new writing become much, much easier, and the content becomes useful. Porter also advises against establishing a complex hierarchy at first, instead letting the users organize the initial content through cross-links.
An area where collaboration projects often fall short is in dealing with continuing growth. With it comes necessary maintenance. As is common among wiki enthusiasts, Porter calls maintenance "gardening". Porter explains the pitfalls, and why it is necessary to appoint a manager ("gardener"). Then he gives suggestions on what the gardener should do periodically to insure a clean and healthy wiki. He also recommends assigning owners to individual pages, similarly to what is good practice for any documentation system.
And beyond gardening, "landscaping" consists of redesigning the organization of the content to provide or improve navigation and to balance the weight of wiki areas. This is done with indexes, hierarchies and categories. Porter warns readers that this redesign will be inevitable, but rightly suggests that it should be embraced and gives tips on how to do so. Some of these are creating a sandbox or separate test-wikis, making improvements in small steps, and superimposing new organization pages on the existing wiki structure. All good practices.
The book also provides advice on many other issues that come up during the deployment of a wiki, like motivating users, page versioning, content accuracy, barriers to adoption, and publishing to a wider audience. Five separate case studies of actual organizational collaboration with wikis give a taste of what is possible with a successful implementation.
I wish I had had this book when starting on wikis. It will certainly help make its readers' wiki projects successful.