5 Responses to “Wikis Don’t Solve an Intranet’s Problems”


  1. 1 Michael Kieran May 11, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I agree with all four of your solutions (editing, training, tagging, and contests), but don’t see authorship and information architecture as wiki-specific problems.

    Indeed, I’ve built out a few hundred collaboration systems on the Socialtext platform, yet have never seen an authorship skirmish.

    With regard to information architecture, yes it’s crucial that authors and editors add tags so that information can be easily found and aggregated. But having multiple wiki pages often makes it easier to structure related content, and helps people participate in specific aspects of the conversation.

  2. 2 Matt Moore May 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    @Michael – I’d guess if you’re doing SocialText integration, there’s training involved and/or a demand for a collaborative tool. Either way, there’s a culture supporting collaboration. My post is more about more traditional-minded shops, usually in large organizations with established corporate cultures. (Apologies for not explaining this; I wanted to keep the post short… unlike this comment.)

    Something this post does not address (since it’s its own topic) is the education/culture shift about collaborative document creation. In my experience, wikis have been put in place simply to be a content management system. This leads to concern that if someone creates a wiki page and someone else adds erroneous content, the originator may be held responsible. That the creator of the erroneous content can be identified sometimes takes a backseat to the fear of that erroneous content going online, and that fear can outweigh the benefit of complementary information being added. (Let alone office politics of “sharing credit” getting in the way.)

    Regarding multiple pages, I’m talking about duplicate content (not just topics) across many, many page. For example, someone in the travel office creates a page about the process for booking flights. Someone else in finance creates a similar page about remuneration for booking flights. Both pages cover almost the same information, but from different points of view — process vs. money. A cultural change is needed for someone to either search for and edit existing information rather than creating a new page, or combine pages if they contain duplicate information. In large organization, there is resistance to this since “That’s theirs way over there on the org chart; this is mine.”

    To your point, multiple/interconnected pages that each target a specific topic is certainly the way to go… but requires content developers to give up the notion of writing long, exhaustive detail.

    So, inclusion, I guess one of the major challenges to a wiki is the lack of understanding behind a wiki: tapping into the knowledge of a collective organization rather than webpages divided by silo.

  3. 3 michaeleriksson May 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    “Intranets are being replaced by internal wikis”:

    Because a wiki is typically part of an Intranet, this statement confuses me. What exactly do you mean by “intranet”?

    (In addition, I a little skeptical to your critique against wikis:
    Are these really problems that would occur using, e.g., Mediawiki and a Wikipedia-like organisation?)

    • 4 Matt Moore May 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

      “What exactly do you mean by ‘intranet’?” An internally accessible Internet site used to publish corporate information. However, an Intranet, in this example, may have a CMS or an Intranet publishing team, but is not available to everyone to add or change, as a wiki is.

      • 5 michaeleriksson May 18, 2010 at 12:27 am

        OK: That clears up the confusion. You have misunderstood the meaning of “intranet”, which is basically the counter-part to an internet, except that it connects something internally instead of externally. (Cf. e.g. “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal”.) In effect, what you mean is an intranet site (a site that runs within the intranet, only accessible to a certain group), while an Internet site is publicly accessible. Similarly, the Wiki would run within the intranet, as could a number of other services of various kinds.


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