Chapter 2. Your Wiki Isn't (Necessarily) Wikipedia

"Have you heard of a wiki?"


"Have you heard of Wikipedia?"

"Oh, yes!"

I'm reminded of Wikipedia's importance both as a wiki and a cultural phenomenon each time I have this exchange with someone. Wikipedia has democratized participation and changed the way people think about building and accessing knowledge like nothing before it, save for the printing press. For me, it helps establish a frame of reference to explain what a wiki is and how it can be used in organizations.

Wikipedia is one example of how wiki collaboration can be used: to build an encyclopedia. In my experience, it's one of the lesser-used applications in organizations. Whereas an encyclopedia makes sense for a large social community, other uses make more sense inside organizations where needs and priorities are different.

But because it is the most well-known example of a wiki, people new to the idea of using a wiki in an organization or enterprise can be highly influenced by Wikipedia's pattern of use, and think that wiki use in their organization will be fraught with all the pitfalls of Wikipedia they've heard about in the news. The reality is, Wikipedia is quite different from organizational wiki sites both because of its primary use — encyclopedia — and the way its community is structured. I often say it's the most extreme instance of wiki in existence because everyone can see its entire contents, anyone can contribute, and people can do so anonymously.

These ...

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