Using Wikis to Meet Your Editorial Goals
Inbox: How are you using these wikis at your company?
Manafy: I lead a group at Information Today Inc., which has used wikis for many of its conferences, offering a public-facing, invitation-only place for conference speakers and attendees to share knowledge related to specific events. My group uses wikis more extensively and for internal collaboration. My core team -- which produces several publications and two trade shows -- uses a wiki to maintain our various editorial calendars; our frequent contributor contact information; review, case study, news and feature pitches; and a variety of other information that changes frequently, but that all team members could benefit from accessing and contributing.
Inbox: What made you want to use them?
Manafy: We produce an annual EContent 100 list, which has a panel of judges located all over the world. The first two years, we passed around Excel spreadsheets by e-mail. Next, we tried a very complex custom voting interface. Then, one of our judges suggested we try a wiki. It allowed this team -- all working at different times and time zones -- to interact like never before. Sure, they voted, but they all commented and provided feedback on each others comments, creating a much richer voting experience and, I think, a better list. It also creates an archive of what went on, which allows me to provide feedback to companies that didn't make the list. I was then asked to co-launch a magazine with an editor in another state and, well, the wiki seemed the natural choice so that each of us would know exactly what the other was doing so we wouldn't duplicate work and would keep our pay rates and schedules synchronized. Eventually, I extended the wiki work environment to all of my products.
Inbox: What was the process of implementing the wikis?
Manafy: If you've used blogging software, a wiki will be just as easy. No technical knowledge is required really. Essentially, you sign up (there are excellent free and fee-based products), and you start to create. With our wiki from Socialtext, you click "Edit" at the top of the page and start typing. It is that simple. To create a new page, you type the name of the page with square brackets around it. Then, you invite your team and get to work. The interface is intentionally basic to encourage everyone to participate.