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This is a guest post by Nick Smith of Freedom Information Systems. Nick is presenting Confluence at NASA: Where No Wiki Has Gone Before at this year’s Atlassian Summit. You’ll find his original post at freedomis.com.

Freedom is very excited to be speaking at this year’s Atlassian Summit
which takes place in San Francisco in just seven and a half weeks (June
8 – 11). In that presentation, we’ll be discussing some of the things
we’ve learned while designing and implementing wiki spaces for our
clients, including NASA’s Ares program.

In anticipation of the Summit, we’ve put together a list of the top
ten things we think about when setting up new wikis. Each Friday
between now and June 4 we’ll reveal a new one, reserving the top three
for our summit presentation Where No Wiki Has Gone Before.
It’s our hope that these ten tips will be valuable in helping you be
successful when designing your own wikis whether for your company, your
organization, or your own personal use.

So without further ado…

No. 10 – Balance Liberty and Order

Freedom. It’s the name of our company — yes. But it’s also
something we value very highly in America, as do many other countries
and peoples around the world. It’s freedom that so many brave men and
women have died defending. Freedom is a beautiful thing.

But do we truly want absolute freedom? Absolute freedom has another name, too: Chaos. 

Pulitzer prize winning author Will Durant said, “Civilization begins
with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.”  Mr. Durant knows
about freedom.  In 1977, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

So is the end of liberty, chaos?  Does it have to go that route?  No.  What is needed is balance.

Most of the time the freedom we enjoy is only enjoyable because it is tempered with a certain amount of law and order – balance.
Rules that keep things from deteriorating to chaos. In some ways,
absolute freedom is scary. If everyone were truly free to do whatever
they wanted, civilization would catapult into chaos in short order.

As it turns out, this is true with wikis, too. Wikis give huge
amounts of freedom to all of their users. But many users may be
intimidated by a blank page. And people are sometimes reluctant to use
a tool that intimidates them.

If you’re setting up a wiki, you can help your users succeed by
giving them a framework to build on. Give them a good starting place,
with clear direction on where the wiki is intended to go, and let them
fill in the missing information.

A great way to make this happen is to use templates. Templates allow
users to create pages with pre-existing layouts that are tailored to
the tasks they want to accomplish. And it just so happens that
Atlassian has made it easier than ever to find and install templates in
Confluence through Page Template Bundles.

There are already numerous templates available for meeting notes,
tasklists, multi-column layouts, etc. And more are coming because
Atlassian has made it easy for anyone to share their own templates with
others via the Plugin Exchange. Cool stuff.

Whether you use Atlassian’s ready-made templates or design your own,
one thing is certain: you must remember to find the balance between
liberty and order.

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