Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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Empty Pages is an anti-pattern in which people don't contribute to a page because it's empty. People are often reluctant to be the first to edit an empty page because they might be unsure what content should go on it. They may leave the page empty and assume that the person who created it will come back and start adding content at some point.

How do I notice it?

Look for pages that have been created but have no content, and haven't been updated in several days. A page hasn't necessarily fallen prey to the empty page anti-pattern if it's only been empty for a few minutes or several hours, so look for pages that look like they've been forgotten.

How do I fix it?

Talk to the person who first created the page, and see if s/he knows that it's sitting empty. If the person has forgotten about it, this will probably be enough to jog their memory and get them to add some content. You might suggest posting a scaffold at minimum, so that others know what to add to the page.

If you have a good idea what content should go on a page, you might just post a scaffold yourself to get things moving. Since it's a wiki, anyone can adjust the scaffold as needed.

  • Scaffold - creating a Scaffold, or template guides others on what to contribute.
  • FAQ - Building an FAQ helps people take inventory of what they're doing and plan what to put on the wiki, thus reducing the chance of having empty pages.
  • Champion - a champion makes sure pages don't sit empty on a wiki. Often s/he will add some content to get the page started, then encourage others to add to it.
  • WikiGnome - a WikiGnome may add a scaffold to an empty page to guide others on what to contribute.
  • Do it all - someone who jumps in and does everything s/he possibly can on the wiki, to the potential exclusion of others. Just be careful not to do this to an empty page that's only been empty for a very short time, as the original page creator may be working on content that's just not posted yet.
  • Too much structure - guessing the structure of the wiki in advance tends to lead to a lot of initial EmptyPages .

Further Reading

emptypages.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/28 15:06 by splitbrain