Wikis Are Wonderful, or Are They? A Real World Story of Using Wikis For User Information


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This presentation was delivered by Alan Porter, Quadralay at the Documentation and Training West 2008 conference ( in Vancouver, BC.

Wikis seem to be the poster child of Web2.0 content delivery. But how practical are they for creating and delivering content that people can really use? Relive the experience of the Quadralay team of setting up not just one -- but three different wikis -- each designed to meet a different need and have a defined role in delivering information for different audiences. Find out how they populated them, how they were received by customers, and how they published traditional online help from wiki content.

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Wikis Are Wonderful, or Are They? A Real World Story of Using Wikis For User Information

  1. 1. Wikis Are Wonderful, or Are They? DocTrain West – Vancouver, May 7, 2008
  2. 2. Wiki, Wiki, Wiki…. <ul><li>Wikis Are Everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer Wikis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General Knowledge Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Special Interest Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Business Wikis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal Corporate Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online Documentation </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Wikis Are Easy To Use <ul><li>Easy to set up </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to Edit </li></ul><ul><li>So simple that anyone can contribute to them. </li></ul><ul><li>Just load, populate, and go. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Wikis Are Just Cool <ul><li>Enabling collaboration. </li></ul><ul><li>User generated content. </li></ul><ul><li>Tagging </li></ul><ul><li>Built in version control and change tracking tools. </li></ul><ul><li>The next step in online publishing? </li></ul><ul><li>Its so Web 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>It may be fine for Wikipedia – but what about using a wiki in your business? </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><ul><li> - a brand of Quadralay Corporation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 15,000 licensed users in 33 countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 2000 Companies use WebWorks products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused core staff with a common vision. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry leading Publishing Platform </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1992 as part of UT Technology Incubator Program. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We see ourselves as a “mature start up” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our Mission Is To Help You Deliver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Your Content. Your Way. Every Time.” </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. ePublisher Platform – The Map Out of the box Input Supported Outputs Custom Configuration MS Word XML DITA FrameMaker Input Adapter HTML WW Help HTML Help PDF PDA Custom Format Java Help FrameScript DocBook Custom DTD Web Site WebHelp Custom WWHelp FD Reviewer WIKI XML WIKI Publishing VB
  7. 7. WebWorks a Wiki Company? <ul><li>Do we develop and sell wiki software ? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NO </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>So why are we a “Wiki Company?” </li></ul><ul><li>Because wiki’s drive our business. </li></ul><ul><li>We have 4 in operation with at least one more to come on line in 2008 </li></ul>
  8. 8. WebWorks & Wikis – A History <ul><li>2003 – First wiki was installed for use by the software development team. </li></ul><ul><li>2005 – Project Trac wiki was selected for use by Services Group to communicate with customers. </li></ul><ul><li>2006 – Internal and External wiki software ( Moin Moin ) selected. </li></ul><ul><li>2006 – Dev Wiki expanded to become company wide “ Inner Wiki ” </li></ul><ul><li>2007 - External “Help Center” wiki launched ( </li></ul><ul><li>2007 – “proof of concept” wiki publishing demo at RoundUp </li></ul><ul><li>2008 – RoundUp wiki launched ( </li></ul><ul><li>2008 – Documentation wiki project underway. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Fount of All Knowledge – The Inner Wiki
  10. 10. The Inner Wiki <ul><li>Replaced static Intranet pages with interactive “knowledge capture”. </li></ul><ul><li>Used for every aspect of company business. </li></ul><ul><li>If it isn’t on the wiki it doesn’t exist. </li></ul><ul><li>90% of staff have contributed </li></ul><ul><li>80% contribute at least once a month. </li></ul><ul><li>50% contribute something several times a week. </li></ul><ul><li>One Hours training backed up by a lunch time brown bag after restructuring or software upgrades. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced training costs </li></ul><ul><li>Shortened sales cycles </li></ul><ul><li>Keeps everyone informed. </li></ul><ul><li>The depository of record (no more email chases) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Inner Wiki - What We Learned <ul><li>Encourage contribution through social means. </li></ul><ul><li>If want people to contribute then YOU have to contribute. </li></ul><ul><li>Some people just will not contribute – don’t force it. </li></ul><ul><li>Give verbal feedback on contributions. </li></ul><ul><li>Have senior people review contributions every day. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep wiki as open as possible – encourages cross functional communications. </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis need maintenance </li></ul><ul><li>We should have defined at least a basic structure first. </li></ul><ul><li>You need a WIki Maven – someone passionate about maintenance and upkeep of the wiki. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Help Center Wiki
  13. 13. Help Center Wiki <ul><li>Purpose – to promote information exchange with and between customers </li></ul><ul><li>Initially populated by WebWorks staff </li></ul><ul><li>Development and Support Engineers systematically continue to add content. </li></ul><ul><li>User contributions </li></ul><ul><li>User enhancement requests </li></ul><ul><li>User Projects area </li></ul><ul><li>Just-in-time documentation updates </li></ul>
  14. 14. Help Center Wiki – What We Learned <ul><li>User login administration </li></ul><ul><li>Change structure from Developer Centric to User Centric </li></ul><ul><li>It takes cheer-leaders to bring others to the wiki. </li></ul><ul><li>How do we differentiate between what’s “official” and what isn’t? </li></ul><ul><li>Enable comments rather than editing rights ? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you collect the feedback? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you integrate with other documentation sources? </li></ul>
  15. 15. RoundUp Conference Wiki
  16. 16. RoundUp Wiki <ul><li>Last year found managing and updating static HTML pages linked to main website a bottle neck. </li></ul><ul><li>Needed ability to do quick updates and makes sure only latest information posted. </li></ul><ul><li>Open to multiple authors who are responsible for different aspects of conference organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow speakers to update and post information as needed. </li></ul><ul><li>It also serves another purpose… </li></ul><ul><li>How well does a wiki work as a website? </li></ul>
  17. 17. RoundUp Wiki – Lessons Learned <ul><li>Harder to give it corporate look and feel </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to update text – not so easy for graphic design work. </li></ul><ul><li>Turning off the visible wiki edit controls makes it look more like a website but means extra steps for contributors. </li></ul><ul><li>Still early days and compiling other points. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Services Project Wiki
  19. 19. Services Projects Wiki <ul><li>Used to facilitate communications and knowledge sharing with services customers. </li></ul><ul><li>Single point of contact / single source of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Description / Contacts / Scope / Notes / Reference Materials / Deliveries log. </li></ul><ul><li>Timeline of edits </li></ul><ul><li>Project Roadmap with milestones. </li></ul><ul><li>Task Ticket creation and tracking. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Services Projects Wiki – Lessons Learned <ul><li>Small amount of additional training for customers at project start. </li></ul><ul><li>Transcribing costumer e-mails </li></ul><ul><li>Once working – speeds communications </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone on project works from same data </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages collaborations </li></ul><ul><li>Speeds project review </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces costs. </li></ul>
  21. 21. So Are Wikis Wonderful? <ul><li>Wikis are easy to start and easy to contribute to. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t expect huge contributor numbers – even Wikipedia has a less than 1% contributor rate. </li></ul><ul><li>Passionate people will share – that can be good – it can be bad. </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t need to be a “code jockey” to start and write a wiki. </li></ul><ul><li>Every branch of publishing is looking at wikis. </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis need planning </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis need management </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis will do for online publishing what HTML did for online authoring </li></ul><ul><li>So what’s our next step with wikis? </li></ul>
  22. 22. The Documentation Project <ul><li>Six month project to rewrite our documentation set. </li></ul><ul><li>Using specialist outside author who is “power user” of product. </li></ul><ul><li>Project managed using the Project Wiki </li></ul><ul><li>Authoring done in structured FrameMaker (DITA) </li></ul><ul><li>ePublisher will populate out to new wiki - </li></ul><ul><li>Invite contribution, feedback from MVP/SMEs in user community. </li></ul><ul><li>This will be a development test bed for DITA / Wiki publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback process being designed. </li></ul>
  23. 23. WebWorks ePublisher & Wikis <ul><li>ePublisher FALL 2008 release </li></ul><ul><li>will include </li></ul><ul><li>Productized “PUBLISH TO WIKI” functionality. </li></ul><ul><li>Publish your Word, Frame or XML content to a wiki </li></ul>
  24. 24. Contact Details <ul><li>Alan J. Porter </li></ul><ul><li>VP-Operations </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>512-381-8892 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Or you can even find me on Wikipedia… </li></ul>