As Atlassian’s wiki evangelist, one of my main projects was launching and helping it grow into a worthwhile, valuable resource for all wiki users.
But what exactly is my role on the site?
In every other wiki I’ve set up, I’ve been the sole champion or one of a small group of champions, and it’s much the same with The types of things I’m doing can be done by any champion who is starting a wiki within an organisation or for a broader web-based community like the new (and fast growing) Wikipatterns community.
For instance, when someone wrote a comment last week suggesting that we add a new page, I replied back with a brief note encouraging him to create the page and showing him how. I could have just created the page myself, but encouraging someone else to do it helps that person get more deeply involved in the wiki, and feel a sense of ownership in the content he or she contributes.
In a couple of other instances, I’ve created pages and added just section headings as a way to guide people on what to add – this is the scaffold pattern in action. To avoid the Do-it-all anti-pattern, I’ve proposed changes to some pages by adding a comment to the page instead of just arbitrarily making the changes. This gives others a chance to weigh in on the change, and even make the change themselves if they feel so inclined.
What happens if someone adds a page that I don’t like? Maybe I don’t like where the page was located in the hierarchy, for example I might think it should be linked to a different page or moved to a new section. Or, what if someone adds a paragraph of content that I think should be moved to a different page? What is my role as the guy who started the wiki?
Well… it’s a wiki. I could move it myself, contact the contributor and discuss it with him or her, or someone else in the community could move it. Other contributors might feel trepidation about changing someone else’s content. But that’s the wiki in action. I hope to encourage people as much as possible, by using some of the patterns as my guide, to turn the wiki into a site of their own creation.
Launching a new wiki involves hard-work, planning, contributing, and community-building, and it’s very rewarding to see others get enthused enough to contribute and invite even more people to join in.
So what’s your role on the wiki?

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