This is the first in a series of instructional posts for Confluence Hosted users, to be simultaneously published on the Atlassian News Blog and the Hosted wiki blogs.
You’ve heard over and over again that wikis are the hot new thing in corporate applications, the collaboration tool of the future. You’ve done your homework, performed some research, asked some geeky but well-informed mates, and finally, grudgingly, agreed that, yes, Atlassian’s Confluence is the only real answer for enterprise wiki solutions (it’s true). You’ve now moved to the next step – you’ve signed up for Confluence Hosted, Atlassian’s new ‘software-as-a-service’ offering of Confluence.
Once you’ve signed up (whether for the evaluation or for the paid version), you log in, note carefully the location of your bull.jpg primary space and all the important buttons (add page, preferences, and so forth)… and you find yourself facing a blank screen. Fear strikes. Hands tremble. “What am I supposed to fill all this space with?” you wonder to yourself. You liken yourself to a young Ernest Hemingway, facing a deadline and a damning case of writer’s block; however, its only 10:30am, you’re stuck in a bright, florescently lit office, and neither a full bota of wine nor all the bulls in Pamplona can save you from the sad fact that only you can make your organization’s wiki initiative a success.
Luckily, our friends at Wikipatterns have some ideas for ways that you can a) jump-start some content for your wiki, and b) get your fellow coworkers in on the fun.
The First Edit
Once you’ve logged into your account, you can immediately open and begin editing your pages. first_page.png Don’t be afraid, start with editing the homepage. Make some changes. And if you would like to get the original page back, simply go back in time and restore any version of the page you want.
Seeding
Seeding is a content pattern defined on Wikipatterns as using some amount of preexisting content to seed the wiki. This could be existing Word documents, intranet pages, or content from other internal systems: basically anything you have that can be easily copied and pasted into Confluence will work. The more useful the original content, the more often it’s referred to by your fellow coworkers, the better. Worry about formatting and cleaning up later; what’s important is to get some content in there. In fact, making some mistakes in the copy/paste process might not be a bad thing; Wikipatterns describes another pattern called Intentional Errors, defined as deliberately making mistakes which are left for others to find and fix, thus getting them used to editing a wiki. These may sound sneaky, but they are proven methods of getting content into your wiki and getting people to use it.
Scaffolding
expense_scaffold.png
A second pattern we’ll discuss is Scaffolding. 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. 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.
Seeding and Scaffolding – two relatively simple processes with a common theme; just start adding stuff. Much like Hemingway, we learn that the hardest step to writing the novel (or building your wiki) is writing the first sentence. Once you get a small amount of content into your space, and get others to look at it and add their own, you’ll find that the wiki will take off, and soon you’ll be facing the opposite problem: how do I manage all this content? But that’s a good problem to have, and one we’ll discuss in a future post.

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