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May 15, 2017
A wiki is an online collaboration tool which allows members of the public to collaborate, share and edit documents using a simple browser. Having said that, over the years, thousands of Wikis, have sprouted all over the world.
Way back in 1994, Ward Cunningham invented the Wiki. His original intention was that people should start collaborating and sharing their life experiences in a free manner over the internet.
A place where people can freely edit the documents with little or no knowledge of computers. True to his vision, the Wiki collaboration software was developed.
Wiki collaboration offers a common web space for people to work on a project. Wiki collaboration requires a sense of ‘stickiness’ for users to be dedicated and committed on the project they are working. Nevertheless, Wiki collaboration is an open invitation for anyone to edit and collaborate.
But, even after all these years of usage, wiki collaboration is still not seen as a social media tool. Even though it offers many lessons on how social media collaboration should function and work, there has been little take off.
In connection to this, I want to talk about the world’s best example for Wiki collaboration software, the Wikipedia and what it can teach us on social media collaboration.
Wikipedia has been so successful that it is the most referenced online content repository in the world. The Wikipedia is the 6th most popular website in the world. Wikipedia’s English version site alone has about a billion hits a month.
The Wikipedia is run by the Wiki foundation. The Wiki foundation manages the administration and infrastructure portions of Wikipedia. The content is written and edited by a bunch of volunteers from all over the world. It is the sheer spirit of community and freedom of expression that drives the volunteers to contribute and edit content.
There are many teachable points that we can learn from the Wikipedia. First and foremost, it is the concept of NPOV (Neutral point of view). Information presented on the Wikipedia may be drawn up from myriad sources.
There may be contentions and disputes on the sources claimed among the volunteers. But at the end of the day, all disputes are resolved quickly. The final content, that is presented on the site is neutral without any bias. There may be small differences. The volunteers set aside these differences and present the content in a most acceptable way. Such remarkable sense of comradeship, we do not even see it in closed group corporate social media collaboration setups in private organisations.
There is no centralized control. The volunteers manage all the information on their own free will without getting paid. Amazing isn’t.
Another teachable feature is the control on avoiding and rejecting vandalized information. As Wikipedia is in the public domain, there is every chance that, the information could be vandalized. The volunteers have a tight network among themselves and they quickly weed out unwanted information immediately within minutes. Such remarkable community spirit is rarely seen among members outside in any social network.
Many others leading publications wanted to emulate Wikipedia but were unsuccessful and had to be closed. Perhaps, there is much to learned from Wikipedia’ challenges and its successful journey so far that we have missed all these years.
Social media collaboration thrives on content being contributed and collaborated for the greater good. Wikipedia is the best example for this in the public domain not just for the technology alone but for the spirit of community and self-expression.