How to Wiki Your Work

Two Parts:Pulling together ideas about the wiki you wantUsing a wiki for work

Wikis have progressed a long way from the time of gathering around the watercooler. One beneficial way of utilizing wikis is to create one for your job, project or other work. You can open a wiki just for your personal use or one that all of the team digs into and creates something special from.

Part 1
Pulling together ideas about the wiki you want

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    Have a good idea, going in, as to how involved you want your work wiki to be. Yes, things change, but at least give its initial layout and purpose some thought. In particular, consider your intended purpose for this wiki. For example:
    • Do you simply like the link format to create a semi-structured set of notes for yourself, or do you hope to collaborate with team members or coworkers?
    • How widely do you want to spread your wiki? Do you want it just for yourself (such as to keep track of your career portfolio) or for your whole office?
    • How big would you like the wiki to become? Or, do you want to leave this to its own organic growth?
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    Get others on board. If you're doing this for teamwork, make sure the boss or supervisor is in-the-know and is happy about it. You may need to spend time showing this person how to use the wiki, along with explaining its benefits for the workplace.
    • It can also be a good idea to explore the level of interest from coworkers. Some may be familiar with wikis and have some great ideas for its development.
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    Search around for a suitable wiki package. There are free wikis, ones you pay for, portable wikis,[1] etc. Select a wiki according to your budget, space availability and ease of use. You may also have to take into account any security issues related to your workplace; talk to your IT people for more advice.
    • If the idea has just occurred to you, but you are unfamiliar with the concept of how wikis operate, look around for a wiki to work on for a while. Find something that fits your interests; this site is a great place to give it a go.

Part 2
Using a wiki for work

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    Start out simple. Although it may seem difficult to get started, you will find that your ideas and plans will feed on themselves and grow. Just start adding bits and pieces to begin with and work from there; perhaps leave a bunch of notes or upcoming presentation bullet points and then work on it over a few days. Add links, open new pages, make corrections and watch the project unfold.
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    Start documenting your work. Different things work for different people and there are many ways to make a wiki work hard for you. Whatever helps you to think better, get inspired and work through problems is the best approach, there is no one single "right" way. Some examples include:
    • Create a flowchart of your job;
    • Create a career log;
    • Take notes in a notebook style wiki, or just type as you think; use it as a hyperlinked notepad utility;
    • Write articles or short pieces to summarize work issues;
    • Create templates for project management or time management;
    • Add some spreadsheets for data management;
    • Encourage team participation by leaving questions, suggestions, big blank areas that are begging to be filled in by those with the knowledge... And so forth.
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    Be accessible. If you're using a wiki in a shared environment at work, and you're the wiki guru, be available for others. Wikis offer a powerful way to share information and collaborate. Be prepared to explain to others what the wiki is for and how to use it. Help answer their questions, guide their learning and encourage their experimentation. It's important to let them know that they don't need your permission, or any other person's permission either; they just need to dig in and help to evolve the wiki as they see fit.
    • It's important to explain that wikis allow for others to make changes to pre-existing work but that this is all aimed at the betterment of what is being created. Also make it clear that everyone can check the history to see what changes have been made and to make comparisons.
    • Ensure that there are rules about behaving cooperatively and supportively on the wiki. This will come naturally to most but it's better to be safe than sorry and to have rules in place to prevent edit warring, arguments and snarky commentary.
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    Allow the wiki to unfurl slowly. Growing a wiki takes time and a better, stronger wiki is one that is tended regularly but not pushed aggressively. Don't expect everything to happen in a day. It won't. Wikis grow as you and others add things to them, so simply start adding.
    • Bear in mind what the intended outcome is for the wiki. Is it to remain ongoing? Is it just meant for a one-off project? Is it meant to inform future users? Try to direct things to meet your objective.
    • Have someone check updates to ensure that they are appropriate and in keeping with the purpose of the wiki.


  • Check out a few programs. One might not fit, but another one is perfect. Don't be afraid to discard what isn't working and keep trying until you find the one that is ideal.
  • Try TiddlyWiki[2]. It's a self-contained wiki that lives in a single file, making it very easy to install, but it's still a very powerful tool, whether for one or more people.
  • If you're already a wiki editor, it's probably you already have a 'style' you like to use. Focusing on a format you're familiar with may help make creating and using your wiki more fluid and enjoyable.
  • Ongoing wiki projects in the workplace need an FAQ page and a governance page (a bunch of simple do's and don'ts that are clear to all users). Be sure to prepare one as soon as possible on launching the wiki (preferably before if you can).


  • Have a code of conduct in place for a shared wiki from the outset. Even in the workplace environment, comments can turn inflammatory online if someone misinterprets something online.
  • Try to avoid rushing people to do things on a wiki. Not only is the online collaborative element quite new to a lot of people, it can also feel intimidating if they feel they're competing against others to put information in place. Allow plenty of space for the topics, pages, information, etc. to blossom naturally. If you want to place a deadline on its usage, make sure it is at least one month or so out from its beginning.
  • Consider clearing your wiki with the IT department if you're using it at work. It wouldn't do to install software or require collaboration on a large scale if the resources aren't in place to fix broken things or if it's against company policy.

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Categories: Wikis