Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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The Scaffold pattern involves giving people a place to start by “framing” the content that should eventually go on a page. People often respond better to a page with a template than one that's completely empty.

Flemming Funch writes “there is a basic need for “scaffolding” to hold the conceptual and organizational elements in place, especially during the early phases of “imaginative, interdisciplinary” interconnection. It may be argued that it is the lack of this scaffolding feature which prevents many potentially useful initiatives from “getting off the ground” - and staying up.”


Anytime you're adding something new to the wiki, make a quick scaffold for people to collaboratively build content. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - in fact it's best with a wiki to use as little structure as necessary. Just as an empty page can deter people, an overly structured page can seem like the author already knows what s/he wants and doesn't need any help.

A simple set of headings is often enough for people to see how information should be organized and “what goes where.”


When you post your meeting agendas on the wiki, use a template like this:

Group Meeting


  • Item name, owner - description of item to be discussed

(add meeting minutes for this item here)

  • Item name, owner - description of item to be discussed

(add meeting minutes for this item here)

  • Magnet - a pattern in which content is exclusively available on the wiki so people get in the habit of looking at the wiki regularly. Scaffold can be combined with Magnet so people are guided in what to add to wiki pages.
  • EmptyPages - this is an anti-pattern in which having too many empty pages discourages participation on the wiki because people aren't sure where to start.

Further reading

scaffold.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/28 14:57 by splitbrain