The Wiki Learning Curve

Shel Holtz points to a Business Week article, E-Mail Is So Five Minutes Ago. Business Week says that

“…it’s easy-to-use and practically free wikis that proponents say offer the promise of collaboration beyond e-mail, even though big editing kinks remain and other quirks and security flaws are sure to surface. Internet research firm Gartner Group predicts that wikis will become mainstream collaboration tools in at least 50% of companies by 2009.”

My company shares the belief that Wikis are the way of the future. In fact, we’ve been experimenting with a Wiki to replace our traditional Intranet site with a fully multi-authored, collaborative space.

What we are finding is that authoring on the Wiki requires users to adopt a new mindset that does not come naturally to a generation raised on MS Word. At this time, the Wiki Learning Curve is limiting adoption of the Wiki by many of our users. They are telling us that they require Help files geared to the nontechnical user and a more intuitive editing interface.

We’ll keep working on this. But I think that we are like most organizations in only having started up the learning curve.

  • Jimbo Wales of the Wikipedia Foundation made much the same point in a speech in Copenhagen this summer. Wikis aren’t terribly editor-friendly, which means they tend to be adopted by geeks, and not necessarily those with the most to provide.

  • Allan’s right and the new (pending) version of MediaWiki – the platform that powers Wikipedia – is going to have a much more user-friendly interface.

    Mediawiki is opensource and probably has the most documentation available for users. So, I would strongly suggest taking a look at that.

    We use MediaWiki at Marcomblog/MarcomWiki.

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  • Robert, I’ve read that MediaWiki will introduce a better editor – and I can’t wait. We use MediaWiki as our company’s Wiki platform – and it’s great. Now, if they could just improve the editing interface…