Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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Establishing where your users are on a ladder (or map) of engagement will help you measure the health of your wiki community, and will help identify ways you can encourage contributors to increase their level of participation.


  • An engagement ladder (or map) highlights the progression from inactive, to passive, to active, to facilitative and eventually to visionary participation in knowledge exchange in your wiki.
  • Typically, people transition from one level (or area) to an adjacent level, or may skip a level, but won't move from one region of the map to an entirely different region spontaneously.
  • Note that the goal isn't always to progress, and it's not strictly a linear progression.
  • Activities aimed and encouraging behaviour at levels unfamiliar or uncomfortable for the target audience may be less fruitful than gearing your encouragement and evangilization activities to match the level of engagement for the various groups.
  • A healthy wiki may have members from most levels, and people play different roles at different times or for different projects. i.e. a WikiGnome for one project may be a Contributor or even a wikiTroll, for another.
  • One key to remember is that transitions work best when there is no policy or technical restriction on someone playing any role, but that you allow people to contribute depending on their experience and level of engagement, and to some degree their personality.
  • Providing interfaces, and interaction points, and rewards appropriate for each type of contributor will increase your overall participation level (and presumably your adoption and business value)
  • Simply showing the ladder or map itself may help recognize and reward high-performers and contributors .


  • One may derive an example of the value of understanding different levels or modes of interaction from an Forrseter study1)), which illustrates a progression as follows:
    • Inactives → Spectators → Joiners → Collectors → Critics → Creators
  • Examples of these activities might be
    • Non-participants → wikipedia reader → podcast consumer → private forum or social network participant → Social bookmarking participant or wikipedia category maintainer or rss feed builder → blog or wiki commenter → wikipedia author, facebook page customizer, blog author,
  • For wikis in particular, near the top of the ladder or in the more sophisticated portion of the map, you may find:
    • … Creators, Maintainer , Ambassadors, Builders, Strategists, Organizers, Architects, Visionaries, Alchemists (collectively, WikiGnomes)
  • One might expect an anti-ladder that shows increasing levels of distrust or disgust for collaborative environments. While they may be 'active' in the wiki, these activites are 'less than active' in promoting community and productivity.

Spectator → Joiner → Collector → Critics → Ambassadors → Expanders → Creators → Organizers → Refiners → Builders → Architects → Visionaries

To improve this article on EngagementLadder

  • the types of wiki personalities or [people patterns] from this site are not all mapped
  • the transitions between the patterns are not designated
  • the ratio/balance of the various roles that are needed for a healthy wiki are not disclosed or even estimated
  • the types of [adoption patterns] that encourage increased levels of engagement are not indicated

* propose we map most or all 'people' patterns to this ladder * wikiGnome * wikiTroll

Forrester 2008 (would someone please check fair use and copyright status for this reference
engagementladder.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/28 13:53 by splitbrain