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Just after the launch of Confluence 3.1 earlier this month we began sifting through all the awesome submissions for Cash For Clunkers, Confluence edition. Over the past month we accepted over 150 clunker trade-ins, and each one was entertaining to read. We had a lot of favourites so it was difficult to choose just one for each category but with the magic of the Survey Plugin on our own internal Confluence site, we were able to whittle it down to the winners.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories. We hope you enjoy your brand new Confluence sites!

Missed out? Get started with a 10-User Confluence License for $10.

What do they win?

The winner in each category receives both a $1,000 donation in their name to the charity of their choosing PLUS an Amazon Kindle (valued at $259) for their own personal enjoyment.

So, without further adieu, we bring you the Cash for Clunkers Awards Ceremony. And a drum roll please…

The Winners

For the most money saved…

sharepoint-clunker.pngClunker: SharePoint

Description: Sharepoint is actually our second try at a wiki. The first was some lousy open source clunker that no one knew existed or how to add content to. The only one who knew it existed was our GIS Arcitect. Every time he told the rest of the team he put that info on the wiki, he got a blank stare from the rest of us as we asked “We have a wiki?” Sharepoint is about a half-step above that one.
A handful of people know about it, but as you can see from the screenshot, not much action there in the past 10 months. Having a tool that is easy to use, easy to administrate, and integrates with JIRA will be like a slice of wiki heaven. There is so much more we will be able to do with Confluence in terms of documentation and organization of ideas, it is the perfect companion for a small outfit like ours who can’t take the time to customize Sharepoint or MindTouch, we would never get any actual work done.

Don’t try this at home…

file_server_clunker.jpg Clunker: File Server + Microsoft Word

Description:My company doesn’t even use a wiki! Our clunker consists of a fileserver, accessible through Windows Explorer, and lots of Microsoft Word documents.So, how does it work?Shown in the screenshot is the functional design document for just one system component. Each system component is described in its own Microsoft Word document.

Our version control consists of using the Word option ‘Track changes’ AND making a copy of the document for each change you make, annotated with a new 3-place version number, e.g., 1.41.2. Each time a document is sent out to our clients, someone will make a copy of the most recent 3-place version, and give it a 2-place version number (1.42). He then makes ANOTHER copy of the document, ‘Accepts’ all changes, and names it 1.42.0. The next person to make a change copies the document and creates revision 1.42.1, et cetera.

As you can see, the result is lots of Word documents. Because Word documents get very large very quickly, the whole thing makes a sizable dent in our fileserver space.

Another consequence of making so many copies is that each system component document needs its own directory. You can probably imagine what would happen if you tried to put different kinds of documents in the same directory – definitely don’t try that at home.

Now, how do you find the document you need? The answer is: you don’t. We don’t have any way to search through the documentation, apart from using the default Windows search facility, which doesn’t really work. So, your only option is to ask around: “Do you know where I can find the documentation for component X? … No? Do you know someone who knows?” You get the idea.

Finally, since Microsoft Word is not the most stable software in the world, each directory is littered with temporary files caused by crashes. Of course, no-one ever cleans up those files, so they just sit there, taking up real estate.

To me, it’s incredible that such a system can continue to exist. It must cost our company ten thousands of euros in lost productivity, but of course, no-one has ever measured the cost. As clunkers go, this is like Fred Flintstone’s car: it runs by hand!

For the Best Rant…

sharepoint-clunker2.jpgClunker: SharePoint

Description: So, the thing that has frustrated us about our clunker is its unfriendliness to support staff. From the inability to have attach documents directly to a page to the inability to maintain a persistent table of contents, sharepoint was never meant to be used as wiki system.One of the most frustrating things is when you click on a document link and it loads in the application in which it was created, after downloading This happens rarely in Confluence, mainly because of its support for Word documents inside a page. Having 15 different document windows all across your screen is not very conducive to a positive workflow for technical assistance!We also love Confluence’s ability to search within PDF files, allowing us to ACTUALLY see where the information lies instead of searching the sharepoint and thinking nothing is there. Being able to use all types of plugins in order to extend the application in many different ways is incredibly exciting as well.

However, the most exciting part of Confluence for us is our ability to FINALLY give our clients access to the support information which has been locked behind Sharepoint’s walls for so long! Giving our users the ability to support themselves will decrease the amount of support calls we get while resulting in more informed users who have the knowledge to help us help them when we do speak with them.

Thanks, Atlassian, for making such a great product!

For The Most Creative Story…

moinmoin clunker confluence trade-in.jpg
Clunker: MoinMoin

Description:Once upon a time in a land far far away, there was a small software company.On a sunny spring day three guys went to lunch. They were a Manager, an Administrator and a Developer. During the meal they spoke about various things, suddenly the Manager said: “I recently read an article about Knowledge Management and about something called a Wiki, this sounds good, we should have one too.” The Developer was immediately enthusiastic about it: “Hey Boss, a great idea, installing a fancy Wiki Software would allow us to spread our Knowledge and increase our productivity. Gone would be the days when we have a problem and just the only colleague that knows about it is on vacation.” The Administrator broke in cold sweat : “Well, ok, nice idea, but it should something that causes no work for me, I already have so much to do. And please something that does not need any database or so. This would be a nightmare to maintain.” The Manager was happy: “Good that we all agree, you two guys will take care of this, just be aware it should cost nothing. Now I must hurry, I have an appointment to golf.” .The Developer was all for it and started searching around to find a software for the Wiki. After a while he went to the Administrator and said: “Well I found something that seems to fit our requirements. Some Open Source Wiki called MoinMoin, it has some WYSYWIG Editor so editing the data should be easy and it uses the file system for storing its data.” The Administrator looked up from his Solitaire game and said bored: “Ok, just put it on the server and send me the link.”

Said and done, after a few hours the shiny new Wiki was up and running. The Manager was very happy and everybody in the company was invited to a meeting where he presented the new “Improvement”. Then everything went its usual way.

In the first days the Developer was enthusiastic and wrote some articles, the Wiki content grew and everybody was satisfied.

After one month, the three guys went to lunch again and the Manager asked: “How is the Wiki thing going ?” The Developer said: “Very well, we already have 50 pages inside our new Wiki.” “Great”, the Manager answered, “go on”.

One year later, a meeting in the coffee break,

The Manager: “Yesterday I looked in the Wiki and I was not able to find something about databases on Linux, I thought your colleague would have written everything he knew about it.” The Developer: “Uhm well, he wrote one article but said the Wiki screw his nicely formatted text and the Rich text editor was hardly to use and he did not wanted to learn the wiki syntax.” The Manager raised his eyebrow: “Really ? Wasn’t this Wiki supposed to be so easy to use? What are the others saying?”

“Hmm, they are also not so satisfied, after the first rush due to the newness it calmed a little bit down. We have now 80 pages inside, but I will tell the others they should use it more.”

Another year later, the Manager asked again the Developer how it was going. “Not so well, in the last year the Wiki usage dropped by 50%. Most people just use the page with our internal server link collection.” The Manager thinks about it: “Well the knowledge of the people is our most valuable asset, we should try to convince them to share more of it.”

The recent past:

The Developer is sad. His Wiki-baby is now somewhat a stepchild. It contains 130 pages and grew by a whooping 9 pages in the last 12 month. Most of his colleagues find it difficult to edit things in the Wiki and to relay find what they need. And most sadly, he must admit they are right. He thinks much about how he can improve the knowledge sharing inside the company again.

Then on a cloudy winter day on a conference he attended a session about Confluence Wiki. What he heard and saw was really impressing. And he thought: “Wow, I have to try this out.”

It was by chance that a few weeks later, he received a newsletter by Atlassian that there is a charity promotion that gives away a 5-User license for just 5 $.

He did not think much about it and buys one license to check it out.

In a guerilla operation he convinces his Administrator that he can install this inside the company (not mentioning it uses a database). He was able to import all the old Wiki data into Confluence and started testing the new Wiki. Adding and Editing content and the whole usage of the software was really easy with Confluence, there were light years in between the usability of Confluence and the MoinMoin Wiki. The rich text editor really works like used by an office application. Adding content from office documents allows reusing much existing information within a few clicks. And even the Administrator is fond about the easy to use configuration. And it also looks nicer 🙂

He talked to some colleagues about it and they had a look too. A few days later another colleague came to the Developer and said: “Hey, someone showed me the new Wiki, that’s really nice, I already added some pages to it.” Really surprised by this the Developer asked around and found out that the new Wiki spread by word of mouth and was liked by all the people who used it. In about one month they added 60 new pages to it. They told to the Developer: ” Hey man, this new Wiki is great and it makes so easy to share and find information, we want to use it for real.”

So now is the time to trade in the old clunker wiki and coast Confluence into the broad.

… and they all lived happily ever after.

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