Wikis has proven time and time again to be a useful collaboration and communication tool with the primary usage being as an aggregation tool for multiple entities to contribute small amounts of information pertaining to a specific topic.

One of the largest wikis is Wikipedia an online encyclopaedia created by contributors from around the world. Being such a large wiki both in users and in content it truly shows how useful a wiki can be. Whilst Wikipedia is a constant subject of vandalism these problems are often rectified rather quickly and in many cases the quality of the content is comparable to that of commercial encyclopaedias and in some cases even better with a larger variety of available information which is more up to date.

But enough with Wikipedia, this blog post is about how corporations are using Wikipedia.

So why and how are corporations using wikis? From the outside it would appear that most corporations are using wikis as a tool for maintaining documentation relating to their products however this is not the case with many corporations using them as tools for internal collaboration to assist employees in coordinating projects and for the safe storage of important information.

Pixar is an example of a company who has made use of a wiki internally. During the production of WALL-E to co-ordinate the use of animation tools within the organization. On the other hand Sun Microsystems make use of multiple wikis to manage product documentation for easy retrieval by their user base.

What are the advantages of using a wiki in the organization? The benefits are clear and numerous, wikis encourage participation by employees and allow them to collectively work on a project with ease and less duplication of work. Wikis are also useful in allowing executives to evaluate the status of a project as well as employee performance through the usage of the page diffs.

Through my personal experience of improving a wiki project I discovered just how useful they were. In my opinion 2 of the most useful features of the MediaWiki software are the page diff functions which allow users to compare different versions of an article and highlight differences between the two as well as the usage of templates which are highly useful for providing consistent HTML and CSS styling to various page elements such as tables and the info blocks like those which are displayed on the right hand side of most Wikipedia articles.

Useful Links:
Corporate Wikis at Work

  • Ben Browning

    Interesting Post, i’ve never personally used MediaWiki, I’ve used Dokuwiki, but after having a quick look, i think mediawiki is easier to configure and setup. I’m currently using a wiki for a group collaboration project, I’ve found through this experience that we have managed to save quite alot of time which would have normally been wasted looking through different version’s of documents through emails.

    It’s interesting you choose Pixar, I remember watching a documentary about pixar and the development of Wall-E it was the first time i had heard of a company using a wiki for development.

    • 16paola

      Hey, nice post!….

      It may sound silly, but at the frist time when people talk about wiki I always though it is the short way to say wikipedia…. I didnt know that there are other wiki and wikipedia is just the most popular of all of them…
      I dont have too much experience using wikipedia in the way of editting or sharing my knowledge about a particular topic. however, I use it to grab information. Wikipedia is just one of the first resource I use to get information from. I think it make mreo sense to me and I understand easily…

      About wiki and company.

      Agree with you about the benefit of wiki in organization. It def encourage participaiton by employees. I think when employees work together make things easier to be complete on time plus people can be update with the project…. I think another benefit is that wiki save time to the company/organization….in the way that it help to have less duplication of work

    • raing3

      @Ben: After trialling DokuWiki as a local installation I think I actually prefer it. The 50MB installation of MediaWiki isn’t all that pretty and transferring all the files over FTP to a server is quite a daunting task.

      On the other hand the DokuWiki 10MB installation is a breeze. One thing I am somewhat against with DokuWiki is the flat file system for storing pages.

      This does have many benefits such as the ability to read the files in a text editor, no need for an database server and it is probably easier to backup for the technology illiterates but I think it would be nice to have a choice of data storage been a MySQL database or flat file system because it can be quite a task copying all the pages for backup purposes… though I suppose a web script which zips the folder would be easy enough.

    • Ben Browning

      They are both excllent applications for a small scale wiki, but i happen to agree with you about having the ability to choose between data storage methods, i’ve heard of some corporate level wikis that provide this service, although they arent free obviously.