What Makes a Good Wiki?

📖 2 minute read

You heard of Wikis. You might be using them daily. They are everywhere you look. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are not as useful as they could be. Over the years many of them became dumping grounds for page after page. Now it is almost impossible to figure out what those mean or how they are related. Other Wikis languish for lack of participation. How can you make your Wiki work better for your group of collaborators? Make the Wiki tell a story!

How to turn your Wiki into an engaging story? Follow the advice from story tellers:

  1. Decide on the story you want to tell,
  2. Create a story line that engages your audience,
  3. Tie your pages together into a coherent whole.

1. Decide on the story. What's the purpose of your Wiki? Is it for a project? Or just to keep track of your ideas? Or to support a product? Whatever it might be, decide on a story that you'd like to tell and build a plot for it. The plot should include the main story line and will include multiple secondary plots. Once you have the plot, write the summary of the story on your starting page in the Wiki.

2. Create a story line. All good Wikis tell a story. Be it the story of a project or of something else. They draw you in and make you click on page after page because they have the information that you want. And where the information is missing a good Wiki compels you to add the missing paragraphs and pages to make the story complete.

3. Tie your pages together into a coherent whole. Decide on a starting point for your Wiki. This is pretty easy since all Wikis have a Home or Main page that serves as the start. As you are writing the "plot" of the story, lay it out across multiple pages, but always make sure that you link one page to another. Before linking to a lengthy "sub-story" in your Wiki, include a summary of that story, and let the user decide if they would want to follow on that link, or just skip to the next chapter.

Practice, practice, practice! Just like with anything else, you'll get better at writing if you practice. The book Writing the Natural Way by Gabrielle Rico, Ph.D. can help.