Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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About WikiPatterns

To get started creating your profile and editing pages, visit How to use this wiki.

There is no 'right' way to use a wiki. The fantastic thing about wikis, and the reason they have been so successful, is that they are built from the ground up by the people who use them. That way, the structure of a wiki, and how it is used, comes to mirror how the people using the wiki want to structure it, how they want to use it.

One of the most common misconceptions about patterns are that they are somehow recipes. With that misunderstanding, you would read this site as a list of instructions: how to set up initial content, how to encourage people to contribute, how to deal with disruptive elements. Wikipatterns is not an instruction manual, it's a set of tools. It's examples of techniques that have helped people, and of situations that people have found themselves in that they wished they hadn't. We want to help to identify a nail, and know you might want to hit it with a hammer. We recommend against grabbing a bag of nails and hammering them into every wall just in case it turns out to be a good idea.

What is a pattern?

The concept of a pattern was introduced by the architect Christopher Alexander. Alexander described a pattern as “a three part rule, which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution”.

Patterns recognise techniques and constructs that practitioners of a craft have come across repeatedly, and presents them in a particular format or “pattern language”, which describes in what context these techniques arise, what problem they solve, and how they solve them.

A pattern is a model considered worthy of imitation (i.e., if it worked for others, it can work for you). Newcomers can benefit from their predecessors' experiences so they don't have to make the same mistakes fumbling around for the same solutions to the same problems. Just as importantly, patterns give adepts a shared language in which to speak about these common concepts.

For example, anyone who has used a wiki for some time knows that it's good to have people around who will fix up typos and broken links, and make sure pages are in their correct categories. A pattern makes it easier to talk about these people because it gives them a name (Wiki Gardener), and also explains that the best way to encourage Wiki Gardeners is to have a wiki where everyone is comfortable editing pages, and there is no rigid ownership of content.

Pattern Languages

One of the most important parts of any catalogue of patterns is the pattern language . This is the template to which all patterns should be written, ensuring that for each pattern, all of Alexander's “three part rule” is properly covered.

For information on the pattern language we use for wikipatterns, read The WikiPatterns Pattern Language.


Antipatterns are patterns that represent a negative behaviour or consequence. They describe situations that you'd rather didn't occur, but that are common nonetheless.

The most important part of an Antipattern is the refactored solution , which answers the question: “If we find ourselves in this situation, how best can we extricate ourselves from it and get back on track?”

See also, The WikiPatterns Antipattern Language .

about.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/15 09:41 by splitbrain