Starting and Running a Wiki Website/Community Management

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A stable wiki is a wiki where the founders could leave the project and the project would continue as well. Here is how a wiki community works.

Community Etiquette[edit]

Design is never a product of chaos (although some big-bang evangelists would differ), rather it is an evolution of change. However, change is not often welcome and so a behavioral standard telling people what to do in event of change and what not to do are a community's etiquette. These sets of laws celebrate positive changes and puts a tolerance criterion on unwanted things.

Consider wikis where user collaboration is the core fundamental concept. Wikis are a Internet phenomena where any number of users can create and modify pages on the Internet with the previous versions available for comparison. If wikis had come without rules of conduct or appreciation, the concept wouldn't have had lasted this long. Giving such a tempting power in the hands of users can come with consequences such as people editing viable content with bogus entries. Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales realized this later while enhancing website design from example[1]. His obvious concerns about bad edits led Wikipedia to adopt a rule that communication should be blocked for people causing trouble.

Adapt your behavior to the community size[edit]

The difference between the Wikipedia community and the community of a small wiki is that on Wikipedia, even if the most important contributors leave the site, there are still enough people to continue the project, so the community is almost sure to never die. On a small wiki, if few contributors leave the project, it could compromise the future of the project. So the relationship will not be the same. On a small wiki, you should welcome the newcomers, start to discuss on their talk page, be helpful and take the personalities into account, even if it does not work this way on Wikipedia.

Another difference is that on a small wiki, the contributor is more important than the content.

Create a network[edit]

To increase the traffic and transfer content, you should link your project with others. Every wiki should have a wikinode (the wikibooks wikinode). Add your wiki to wikinodes that are related to yours. Also reference wikis on your wikinode. If you forward people to the project they are looking for, they could talk about you. Your wiki should have an entry on wikiindex.org.

Open minds[edit]

It's better to have non-perfect contributors than no contributor. If a contributor adds a content but not exactly as it should be, do not remove it. Modify it instead. It won't frustrate the contributor. Keep in mind you are not always right. If something seems to be wrong, you'd rather keep it as it is, improve another part of the wiki and decide what to do later. Perhaps you will change your mind. Always highlight the good ideas of the contributors.

Invent rewards[edit]

Nominate or vote for good content or good contributors. Create a boilerplate to put on a good content or on a user page. Make it visible. Make the author happy and encourage the other contributors to follow him.

Highlight the good content[edit]

Display featured content, for example, on the main page. This has several benefits:

  • It quickly shows the best content of the wiki, so that the visitor can quickly read useful content.
  • It shows that the wiki has good content and hide the unfinished pages.
  • The contributors will use the featured content to write pages. It also raises the challenge.

Organize events[edit]

It is more important than you think. You can organize monthly election (for the featured content or sysop). You can also organize contests. A contest often gather the community, motivate the contributors and generate good content. Reward the best contributor of the contest or organize a jury.

Be observant[edit]

Do not think you can find the right way to organize your wiki at startup. Try some rules and content, take risks, see what is going well and what does not work and only keep the good ideas. For example, the fact that lots of contributors always do the same mistake will tell you that a part of a help page is strangely written. A wiki is always an experimental place.

Contributor motivations[edit]

You need to ask yourself for what reason people are contributing to your wiki. If you do not care about that, they could be frustrated and leave the site. They can contribute to share knowledge, to get recognized, to promote an idea, or anything else. A contributor that wants to share knowledge can make small modifications on several articles and may be helpful. A contributor that wants to get recognized would rather create new articles, finish it and participate to the contests. A contributor that wants to promote an idea may be an active contributor but sometime hardly follows the rules. However, this is only a point of view. It is not already the truth.

References[edit]