Wikipedia a bad example for enterprise wikis?

Helen Nicol writes an interesting post about how to get wikis taken up within organisations. Using Wikipedia as an example, she writes, is a bad idea, because it sets unrealistic expectations of the amount of content likely to be generated, and will also likely scare people away.

Unfortunately, many companies begin their wiki experiments by trying to create the definitive knowledge asset on, say, knowledge management. This is a big ask for people who’ve never had their own contributions edited by someone they don’t know. It turns people off, and prevents them from recognising the potential in wikis. They need to start with a simple and non-threatening activity like a progress report or lessons learned review. Even a shared agenda would help as I said in this post some time ago. Starting small will really help people gain confidence enough to start working on bigger projects like knowledge assets.

This taps into a real problem for those wishing to encourage the adoption of these tools within their organisations. Saying wikis are like Wikipedia (which they can be, but…) is a bit like describing blogs as online diaries (which they can be, but…).

As I often say, the best thing is just to start using something, with a freely available tool, whether a blog or a wiki or whatever and then use that to demonstrate what you mean to the unbelievers. Much easier than making people think they have to start recording the sum of all human knowledge, or start publishing their innermost thoughts on the web!

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