Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making Wikis Ridiculously Successful: Real Lessons, Real Tips

Overview: Useful lessons that work from companies like Pixar, Dow Jones, Vodafone, and Accenture. Listen to Sun Microsystems' story about their successful and Get 12 tips for making your wiki work. Learn what value these companies created

  • Jeffrey Walker, President of Atlassian
  • Linda Skrocki, Sr. Engineering Program Manager, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
My Notes:

Accenture 123,000 employees with 54,000 wiki users
Deutsche Bank 270,000 employees (80,000 online) with 15,000 wiki users
IBM 387,000 employees with 100,000 wiki users

Vodaphone combines blogs and wikis. CEO blogs on the platform. Customized it to look really nice (visually) The CEO wanted to blog to e employees rather than sending out blast emails. Two weeks ago he resigned. He did it through a video blog with a message to a company.

The finance department wiki for Leapfrog gives new users a tour.

SAP's developers network has 800,000 registered users.

Deutsche Bank. The mascot is Marvin the Paranoid Android (from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.) Marvin actually has his own presence on the platform, including a CV. The awards are the annual Marvin awards. It is always the 42nd annual Marvin Awards. Since 42 is the answer according to the book

The sun community is a galaxy. is in the middle, with planets revolving around it. Linda's perspective is from the external blogging community. Sun has lots of both internal and external blogs.

Linda's Nodes fro Success

1. Relax and trust your contributors. Give up control. Balance policy, risk tolerance, culture, benefits and trust. Be your self and share as much information about yourself and your job. Obviously do not share proprietary information. Anyone can set up a blog by themselves.

Have guidelines on public discourse. Use a conversational tonne. Just clarified that it is not just about blogging, but also sharing. Sun recently revised their policy to address anonymity, avatars appearance and community moderation. They provide blog themes for the employees. The CEO emphasized that they could pick their own theme.

Of the the over 100,000 blog posts, only 5 post had bad things. The sun bloggers monitor other blogs in the sun galaxy. So there is self-policing. The thought was to allow the more experienced people to post comments and respond to the posts.

2. Seed the site for Success.
  • seed site with content
  • engage power users to pilot
  • pre-launch evangelism
  • user tools, including instructional videos, FAQs getting started, etc.
  • wiki for self support
Their wiki growth, after less than a year, and have had 50,000 edits to 7,000 pages.

3. Guide and Nurture self-sufficiency

Enable user to find answers and collect answers to questions.

What is the difference between a blog and a wiki. Collaboration and retention is more for a wiki. A blog is more of a flow and one person drafting. Blogs are more about discourse and debate.

The session turned to blogs (I thought this was a wiki session). An audience member recommended that you start with a wiki rather than a blog. There is less pressure to keep feeding the blog monster. Someone else recommended twitter before blogging.

How do you rate wikis? Why do you need to. You are not rating documents or other systems. If you have a rating system, then let people rate, set up a competition among employees to be the best.

Jeffrey has new employees create a new space and describe themselves. Make them editors from day one.

He showed an interesting task list as a widget in a wiki.

He showed a wiki with charting and reporting. A database view through a wiki is really powerful.
They encourage non-work use in the wiki. Getting using the wiki for whatever it is that they do.
Some concerns from audience about time wasting. Jeff says it is a management philosophy. If people are going to waste time, they can do it in many ways. They may as well waste it using the company tool and learning its features.

Permissions should be as open as you can. The default is no restrictions.

Duplication can be an issue. As wikis get bigger they need more gardening. As wikis it gets bigger it is harder to find things.

He pitched and Stewart Mader's book, Wikipatterns.

What about wiki gardener as a job description? Should companies have someone dedicated to gardening.

Sun has not incentive program overall. Some groups at sun include blogging as part of the review process.

Sharepoint question. Blogs and wikis are very rudimentary and the functionality blends together. (I just found out a major problem with the Sharepoint wiki. A blog rant will be coming as soon as I settle down from the E 2.0 conference.)

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