Patterns for successful wiki use

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The magnet pattern involves having some content exclusively on the wiki to draw users to it.

Putting this content on the wiki and removing it from any other place (for example on an intranet or internal bulletin board) gets users used to looking at information on the wiki.

The more useful this content is (for example the Staff Contact List) the more people will visit the wiki. The more they visit the wiki, the less afraid they are of editing or using it. It ceases to be a “foreign” destination and becomes just one of their normal information sources.


You want to be cautious that “driving users to the wiki” is actually what you want to do (and that this obviously does not impact their job in a negative way). For example if content is relevant in a given context (for example machine operation instructions), removing them from the machine and putting them on the wiki is not a good use of this pattern.

If on the other hand the content is on your intranet, moving it to the wiki and linking to it from your intranet will get users (who are already at their web browser) more used to seeing and surfing the wiki.


Put your next meeting agenda on the wiki instead of emailing it to everyone as an attachment. Encourage people to modify it as they see fit, i.e. rearranging the order of items, adding notes, URLs, etc. During the meeting, record the meeting minutes directly on the wiki, and encourage everyone to add their own notes as well. This way the wiki becomes the place to track activity in the group. Using the wiki to collaborate on projects discussed in the meeting then becomes a natural outgrowth from notes about them in meeting minutes.

  • Corporate Directory - let staff manage their own listings
  • Poker - the Poker pattern is a good first step toward the magnet pattern. Putting social content like the weekly poker schedule gets people looking at the wiki.
  • FAQ - FAQ is another good step toward the magnet pattern. Having people write an FAQ on anything, from dept. workflow to specific projects gets them to try editing the wiki and starts the movement of important content onto the wiki.
  • Scaffold - as the magnet pattern draws people to the wiki, the scaffold pattern gives them direction on what content to add to pages.
  • Leech - an anti-pattern in which a user takes content off the wiki and emails it, for example.

Further Reading

magnet.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/28 15:01 by splitbrain