When to wiki?

The thing I love about the online community space is you never really know how people are going to leverage the tools placed in front of them — especially when the tool is as cross-functional as a wiki. Sure, there are the easy to predict use cases that come to fruition and the easy to predict grey use cases, but observing how contributers approach the grey areas, in addition to the unpredictable super clever user cases, is what interests me.

In the wiki arena, one of those grey areas is when should a wiki be used vs a traditional corporate webpage? Certainly, the two should compliment & not compete with each other. A good wiki will “…appeal to a niche that isn’t entirely satisfied elsewhere” (via How to make a successful wiki).

As you may have heard, Sun announced the industry’s first dual-socket chip multithreading technology (CMT) platforms today. To compliment the launch, one of the CMT team staff engineers spearheaded the creation of a CMT wiki. Per the wiki’s entry page:

“Designed by engineers for engineers, this interactive site offers the best of breed Sun Blueprints, technical whitepapers, solution briefs, benchmarks, power calculators, documentation and blogs on Chip Multithreading, all in one place.”

In addition to traditional wiki content that will hopefully drive visitor interaction via the comments feature, the wiki has many cross-pollinating pointers to traditional website content that is posted on sun.com product pages, CMT blog posts on blogs.sun.com, etc.

Does the CMT wiki introduce overlap with traditional website content? I don’t think so, but as the program owner of wikis.sun.com, I may be biased. I think the CMT engineering team did a great job of complimenting the official product pages and driving traffic to them — as an example, I found these nifty power consumption calculators because of the wiki.

I’m curious how other companies have offered clarity around the question of when to use a wiki vs the traditional corporate website to deliver content.

Update Stewart Mader wrote a blog post that offers four tips for making the decision of whether content is best suited for a wiki or a traditional website: http://www.ikiw.org/2008/04/09/when-to-wiki-and-when-not-to/

  1. #1 by Marc Dierens on April 10, 2008 - 12:58 am

    Interesting post, I often get asked the question as well. "Do we put it on the website, or do we put it on the wiki?" "What is the difference between a wiki and a website?" As our communication is only internal, to our Top Accounts, I often explain the difference by saying that a website is for communications from one, or few, to many. This is the "traditional" site where one, or a few people update content and publish for the world to see.
    The wiki is completely different, and I see these communications as many to many. The wiki is a joint effort by readers and publishers, and there is no management task for one person, other than to monitor for inappropriate content.
    I like wiki’s, I think they are great for collaborating, and I will push the usage further amongst our team!

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