If you didn’t attend AtlasCamp 2010 in Half Moon Bay this year, you may not have known about the Great AtlasCamp 2010 Game. Built on Confluence, our collaborative authoring tool and wiki, the game facilitated campers getting to know each other in the weeks leading up to the event — a way to short-cut breaking the ice at the conference.

In this post I’ll share six tools that helped transform Confluence from a wiki, to a collaborative online game.


How did it work?

We figured the best way to create an incentive for people to interact with each other was a little friendly competition. AtlasCampers were randomly assigned to ten different teams upon registration for the conference. The ten teams were conveniently sponsored by our ten products – including our latest acquisition, BitBucket. Almost nothing lights your competitive fire like free stuff, so the teams competed to win a variety of awesome prizes.

From the outset, campers were directed to create a profile for the game and then complete a common list of ‘Herculean Tasks’ in order to gain points for their respective teams. Profile pages were necessary to allow campers to check each other out and connect through common interests.

The tasks ranged in difficulty from tweeting about AtlasCamp 2010 ,to installing the Atlassian SDK; and the points reflected the difficulty of the task. Only the top three team scores received prizes, so campers needed to work together and encourage their teammates to earn points for their team.

Despite all of the cool stuff, like gelskins and Timbuktu bags, the real prize was all of the networking and discussion that took place on the chatter and lightning talks pages. The Game showcased Confluence’s ability to provide a social platform in which people could share information and interact. Nearly 100 campers used Confluence to create sparks for discussion to be completed at Camp; optimising everyone’s face-to-face time in Half Moon Bay, CA.

The Six Tools

1. The Gliffy Plugin – Collaborative Diagrams and Flowcharts


When designing a space in Confluence, it can be particularly helpful to create an outline for your space’s page structure. At Atlassian, we use the Gliffy Plugin to help us mockup diagrams and flowcharts to better visualise a project. For this project, Gliffy was an effective tool to visualise Confluence’s hierarchical page structure while designing the layout of the AtlasCamp Game space on our public wiki. Any Confluence space can have unlimited parent and child pages stemming from the space’s homepage. In order to take advantage of this structure, we wanted all campers to access any page from the space’s homepage, so a design had to be crafted to ensure that all pages were prevalent and reachable.

We designed the space to have 10 parent pages (team pages); each team page then was structured to have about ten child pages (camper profile pages). This design made the structure of the space very predictable which allowed for easy navigation. See the image below to see an example of how we used Gliffy to create a skeleton of the AtlasCamp Game space.


2. The Documentation Theme


There are a number of Confluence themes and plugins available to help you customise a space and organise content. Designed for technical documentation, the Documentation Theme provides an inbuilt table of contents for your wiki space, a configurable header and footer, and adjustable text styles to assist users with navigation throughout the space.

The inbuilt table of contents is a navigational sidebar that displays a space’s hierarchical page structure, clearly indexing all of the space’s pages and inherent child pages. It was particularly instrumental for helping campers and Confluence beginners navigate from page to page throughout the Game.

Atlassian uses the Documentation Theme for all of our product documentation and product guides on our public wiki. The theme provides an easy reference point for new users as to what pages they are currently viewing in a space and also what other pages exist in the space.

3. The Panel Macro

The Panel Macro allows you to display anything from block of text, to an image or embedded video inside a customisable panel. Generally, the purpose is to accentuate content or define sections within a page. In the Game, panels were used in a variety of ways, including to highlight images, team rosters and important text. Panels are an important visual tool to improve the readability of a Confluence page – providing balance and distinction between blocks of content.

The AtlasCamp Game space homepage used panels extensively to provide a means for easy reading. The panels on the homepage served to highlight and break up different sections of text for all of the Game’s instructions, and to provide some color for the different teams. In the image below, you can see that we used panels to create buttons for the different team pages. You can also customise panels in a variety of ways, we chose to define each panel with its respective team color to make this part of the Confluence page standout.


4. Customisable Space Templates

It was critical that campers could easily pursue their Herculean challenges and join the game without having to jump through any hoops. The last thing we wanted was for any camper to endure a feeling of resilience when engaging with the game (unless it was during a major comeback). Customisable page templates were an important part of each camper’s profile page and the Game’s overall success because the templates allowed campers to focus on content creation rather than formatting their profile page. Additionally, when campers visited other profiles, they knew exactly what information they were going to find on the profile and where they could get it.

In order for campers to create profile pages quickly and easily, we mocked up a profile for Lance Armstrong to serve as the template and example profile. Campers could then go through the profile and substitute Lance’s information with their own. Campers provided links to their organisation’s homepages, their twitter handle, and their blogs. The templates allowed everyone to establish a network in which campers could connect and promote their passions and work.


5. The Linking Plugin by Customware

Once the profile template was established, the Linking Plugin provided campers with a single click to create their profile page as a child page of their team page. How do you ask? The plugin allows you to construct a link on a page that when clicked, creates a new child page of the current page pre-populated with a Confluence page template. All we needed to do was direct the plugin to the ‘profile template’ we created using the {add-page} macro. See the markup below:

{add-page:template=[template name]}[link text]{add-page}

The combination of page templates and the Linking Plugin allowed campers to easily and quickly create standardised profiles that could then be shared with the rest of the campers. We similarly used page templates and the Linking Plugin to help campers create and discover chatter page topics and lightning talks.

6. The Children Display Macro


To bring the profile creation process full circle, we wanted to automate each team’s roster so that when a new camper signed up and created his or her profile, their name (profile page) would be added to the list. In order to do this, we utilised the Children Display Macro, which displays all child pages of a parent page in a hyper-linked, bulleted list.

We created a Roster section on each team page and used the Children Display Macro to automatically list all of the team members as they created profile pages.

Summing it All Up

The AtlasCamp Game turned out to be a major success and provided a lot of helpful momentum for the conference and beyond. The Game is a great example of Confluence’s ability to be used as a collaboration tool – connecting people around shared knowledge. The features and plugins highlighted above are only a snapshot of the plethora of tools that can be used to make Confluence a powerful content creation and collaboration tool.

Six Tools to Enhance Your Wiki Experience...