Seed Your Wiki with Info to Attract Users - dummies

Seed Your Wiki with Info to Attract Users

By Dan Woods, Peter Thoeny

Users consider a wiki to be useful if it has a clear goal and some information already in place. Take Wikipedia, for example. When you visit a topic, you see a concise, coherent entry on a particular subject. If you find the information useful, it served its purpose, and you and Wikipedia can both go about your business. If you find the information lacking or incorrect, you can edit the entry and expand upon it. That’s how wikis work.

But if that seed — some initial, useful information — isn’t there, there is no impetus for others to create it. This is true with almost any page, from the lowliest procedural wiki to the most exalted managerial wiki. Whether you’re creating a collaborative style sheet for a school newspaper or building an homage to *NSync, if you don’t take the first step, we can guarantee that no one else will.

To begin, create an introductory page with links to the sub-pages you expect to create. Writing about The Beatles? Make pages for John, Paul, Ringo, George, and maybe even Pete Best. Index these pages on a main page and explain your goals. Create a page for their discography. Create a taxonomy, or a structure of information, that makes sense for you and your readers. Here’s an example:

Welcome to Joe’s Beatles Page. Our lofty goal is to create a compendium of knowledge on The Beatles and their many albums. It is a wiki, which means it consists of a set of linked pages that you can edit simply by clicking the edit button. Take note, however, that wikis have a set of commands and formatting tags that you will need to use when adding to or modifying this collection. Visit our Help page to learn how to edit this wiki.

Your goal is to create something that

  • A casual reader can understand and use immediately.
  • Someone “in the know” can edit and update alongside your already pithy and useful work.