Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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Manager Lockdown


This pattern refers to the situation where a manager takes ownership of certain wiki content which is particularly visible and unintentionally discourages people from changing their content. The result can be that other wiki users who wish to contribute become hesitant about what content can and cannot be edited.

How do I notice it?

  • Managers or anyone 'above' your peer group in the corporate hierarchy start to control the front end pages to the wiki.
  • People are discouraged from editing some pages without a clear message of what they can edit.
  • Peer groups of users don't have their own clearly defined areas.
  • The wiki suddenly becomes the 'front door' to a particular department and a manager starts putting considerable effort into maintaining the home page. You get the sense that people are hesitant to edit certain content because they don't want to draw any ire from 'higher ups' in the company by changing carefully laid out pages.
  • You have a set of managers or team leads using a wiki who are responsible for a disproportionate number of the edits happening.

How do I fix it?

Make sure peer groups of users have their own areas where they can contribute and edit the content of their peers. Creating a wiki/space/area targeting the interests and activities of a peer group gives contributors a 'safe zone'.

It is key to make sure that contributors have areas within the wiki where they feel 'safe' - very comfortable adding and updating content. They must be made aware of what is acceptable to update/edit. They must also be made aware of how to quickly locate the 'correct' area to add content. It's important that you convey that capturing knowledge is the most important thing and organization can be left for later.

It is a positive to get people at all levels of the company involved in contributing to wiki content. People just need to be cognizant of the fact that when a manager comes along and says something is a certain way there will be a hesitancy among other employees to amend that content and possibly any content. People seem to be most comfortable getting started amongst their peers.

This pattern also refers to when the wiki starts to take on the role of 'departmental website content management'. Wikis are a tremendously efficient and powerful way to maintain content. But when their roles become mixed users can start to feel more reluctant about editing some content and, by association, all content.

Wikis are great platforms providing a lot of functionality for content management. Because of this, they can be used as the basis of public corporate websites as well. In this case, Manager Lockdown will most likely happen for the particular wiki/space that contains the public content. When a wiki is used for commercial purposes/corporate sites, then the fear of liability for content being published as official endorsement by a company can restrict and confuse users about what a wiki is really meant to be used for.

Further Reading

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