How to Get People to Contribute to a Wiki

The success and richness of a wiki depends on how many people edit and improve it. This article hopes to establish what steps increase the likelihood of people contributing. We hope this resource will be a valuable guide to the many hoping to implement and leverage this technology in their respective fields.

This is especially useful an entry to a Wiki is being created and you want other members to continue editing it.


  1. 1
    Communicate seriousness. One might perceive a wiki as a pale imitation of the very popular site Wikipedia and not a serious platform in itself. To show that a site that you administer, or an edit you contribute, is serious:
    • Use proper spelling and grammar. Do not underestimate the importance of this. Remember that not everyone's first language is English and some people may be reading an article on a subject they know nothing about. Consider your audience, no one wants to have to look up every other word in an article either because it's not spelt correctly or not explained.
    • Try to understand the site's purpose and customs and show your interest in creating "harmony" in the contribution.
    • If you are contributing a large amount of text, organize it.
    • Make your contribution easy to read. Avoid unnecessary jargon. Add images for explanation, or, depending on the overall style and purpose of the wiki, at least here and there for decoration and page appeal.
  2. 2
    Avoid the "Blank Page Syndrome". When people see blank pages (or even in some cases, partially blank, or empty), they disregard the wiki as not functioning or badly written, and thus may not edit as they consider it a waste of time and energy. Before you launch it, add some seed content for people to build on. The size of this seed content could be seen as the critical mass required for people to take the wiki seriously and build upon it.
  3. 3
    Know about values. Wikis entail people investing time in improving a resource without any monetary benefit to themselves thus it is essential to understand the values that drive people to edit wikis and to align your wiki to these values. Remember that you are contributing to universal knowledge, and the growth of the human mind and communication - every small step is important. In a business setting, remember good wiki contributions in evaluating employees.
  4. 4
    Encourage and appreciate volunteers. In a volunteer setting, set up a system for regularly welcoming and thanking and formally recognizing contributors.
  5. 5
    Make it easy to edit. Editors often get turned away by the effort required to edit. Make editing as easy as possible. This can be done by, as before mentioned, making contributions well-written to begin with, conspicuously directing users to an explanation of the markup language, and avoiding overly complex markup.
  6. 6
    Avoid unnecessary advertising. Wikis thrive on people giving something to the community without getting anything monetary back. Thus excessive ads may distance people from considering the community their own. People may understand the need for some ads to keep a wiki organization afloat but overdoing it may alienate editors.
    • A wiki for an organization's internal use or of interest to a limited community would generate little traffic, and generally wouldn't need ads.
    • Note that you might not be able to disable ads, and will in this case, have nothing to do about it but quit if the policy seems abusive.
  7. 7
    Personalization. Every subject has its own structure. You can structure a wiki contribution to the needs of your field, but don't make the formatting so complicated that someone else wanting to contribute can't figure out how.
  8. 8
    Assume good faith. Appreciate new users and watch them improve over time. You may have to clean up their work a little more at first, and gently coach them out of serious annoyances, but patience builds WikiLove.[1]

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Categories: Wikis