Wiki Patterns

Patterns for successful wiki use

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From my own experience, the 90-9-1 rule seems right and makes sense.  I don't agree with the study's conclusion though that you can't overcome the participation inequality - at least in some situations.  I think Jakob Nielsen is right on with how to improve it but I think the key one is making participation a side effect.  Ideally a wiki can become the primary means of communication within a group rather than just something to do for those that feel so inclined. Once it becomes that embedded part of the process (ie, replacing or at least surpassing email)  the accumulation of knowledge in the wiki becomes more of a side-effect of the communication that's already occurring.

Posted by Tony Branfort at Jul 05, 2007 21:19

This pattern could become more useful if re-written according to the pattern template. When I can take the time I will most likely do it, but if someone else has time soon, go ahead, don't wait for me.

Posted by Ronja Addams-Moring at Jul 10, 2007 03:04

With a little bit fear of falling into the [OverAnalyzer] pattern, I suggest defining as part of this pattern, a criteria to measure the level of collaboration in a wiki and to find out where you are in the 90-9-1 theory.

I think this would give advocates/evangelists more ammunition when defending the use of wiki tools in an organization by providing a tangible value ( since we first rolled out X wiki tool, we have seen a growth of 40% of collaboration type of thing).

Once a common criteria is defined, we can compare apples with apples when discussing collaboration. The criteria could easily be implemented by the different tools.

Makes more sense in a corporate level, when can account for all the users.

The criteria should consider the following parameters

  • Number of registered users
  • Number of registered users that can author content
  • Number of pages created within a period of time, and by how many users
  • Number of modified pages within a period of time, and by how many users

Just to get the discussion going… or maybe there is something already there…

Posted by Roberto Dominguez at Sep 04, 2007 18:22

Ben Gardner is persuasive in his blog post <sup></sup> that “wikis inside the firewall can significantly beat the 90-9-1 rule.”

Posted by Tony Branfort at Nov 05, 2007 15:22

Ben Gardner is persuasive in his blog post that “wikis inside the firewall can significantly beat the 90-9-1 rule.”

“Ben Gardner suggests” or “Ben Gardner relates a story”, but he certainly doesn't give any argument, “persuasive” or otherwise.

Posted by Matthew C. Clarke at Nov 05, 2007 21:26

You might consider rewarding contributors by installing some kind of counter that counts posts and comments and then allow participants after x number of posts to post a link to their specialized information site.  This would allow participants to monetize their efforts much like some forums do.

Posted by Jeff Scott at Nov 15, 2007 04:19

Is this pattern for a specific type of wiki? For example, some of the collaborative wikis for project management, knowledge management seem to have a different ration of readers to contributors.

Posted by dorai at Jan 16, 2008 19:35

It seems a very consistent pattern for a wiki where users arent compelled to update. We have a wiki on an intranet for collaboration and information sharing. That shows after a month or two of usage with 900 users set up with edit access:

  • 9 Users had done 50% of the edits -over 500 edits each
  • 90 Users had done 99% of the edits - over 10 edits each

Posted by Nic Evans at Feb 22, 2008 11:29

From my experience, the 90-9-1 theory defiantly holdsfor initial setups of Wikis. I've setup a wiki in an Enterprise, and it was the case for several months. However we are now seeing over 30% contribution rates in a user base of over 900. I've blogged about the Wiki adoption techniques <sup></sup> that worked for me if anyone is interested.

Posted by sherifgmansour at Jun 04, 2008 06:32

1866 edits out of 10851 total edits were made by the top five contributors (three of whom are Microsoft employees). That percentage is slightly above one percent at 1.72%

Seems like there's probably a zero missing somewhere in this math …. ?

Posted by Steve Lane at Jun 29, 2008 07:25

Tony's initial comment rings true with me.

I think that is what this idea is all about: <sup></sup>

Posted by Hamish Willee at Sep 17, 2008 21:08

In my experience these sort of thing are more likely to follow the Pareto Principle. This was created by an economist called Vilfredo Pareto when he noticed that there was a wealth related pattern that was generally present that 80% of the wealth of a country was owned by 20% of the people. When he and others started to look they found that this rule applies to many other phenomena and situations.

A common one that is relevant to the creation of a Wiki will be that 80% of the Wiki created is created by 20% of the users.

Posted by LeapingWolf at Sep 22, 2008 16:41

I´ve translated the 90-9-1 pattern to spanish in Distribución desigual de la participación en blogs, comunidades, redes sociales, etc...: 90-9-1, algunas claves <sup></sup>

Best wishes.

Posted by dreig at Jan 11, 2009 03:01

Building out on LeapingWolf view of Pareto principle and the application to Wiki.  This principle is the principle of Human behaviour and can be seen time and time again in all social forums.  The distribution of participation is a power-law distribution.  Ever been in a sporting club where a small number of people do all the work and a large number have limited participation - human behaviour.  Why do the larger number have limited participation? Understanding this norm of human behaviour will help us understand how to increase participation in our Wiki.

Posted by Jeni Pitman at Mar 25, 2009 21:53

It would be interesting if wikis on the WWW and Enterprise Wikis both follow this pattern. In a company with - let´s say with 500 employees only 5 would add new articles?

Posted by ABLVienna at May 05, 2009 06:50

Fascinating site this is. We've been running our own wiki (on our own software) since 07, but had never come across wikipatterns before! Anyway, this seems about the same ratio we're getting. We've been working hard to incentivize especially that 9% group to become bigger, but it's certainly no easy feat. Anyone have any ideas on what kind of incentives work (we've got monetary in place and currently working on a 'hit xxx characters and we'll donate xxx to charity' project). But I'd love to hear other ideas!

Posted by samdaams at Nov 17, 2009 11:49

talk/90-9-1_theory.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/14 21:14 by