Tips For Site Operators

Any launch tips for the Wiki apprentice?

Yes. First few months sets the tone. Watch it carefully then. Invite people to visit and contribute. Invite 20 at a time. Expect only 5 or 10 to do so and only 1 or 2 to write. Invite 20 more a few days later. The best contributors are people with some name recognition. Really famous people already have too much invested in their name to risk signing it on a wiki (in their opinion anyway). Write a page every few days yourself. Add paragraphs to many pages. Do web searches and add pointers to related sites with brief reviews or quotations from the sites. Try to keep your signature from being the only one. -- WardCunningham

I've just started the German Software Developer Wiki with an ambitious mission. It seems to work out fine, but I don't know how to find the balance between ...

  • producing content, refactoring
  • letting things go their way

Could you try to remember when your wiki started and answer a few questions for me?

How much time per day did you invest in the beginning?

An hour or two.

What was the critical # of recent changes (per day)where you felt that you could lean back, because itwas living?

Probably 5 or 6.

I participated every day for several years. Often my contributions were anonymous and supporting of contributions by others. I edited every submission for style sooner or later.

How fast did you react to contributions?

  • to give the feeling of feedback
  • to give others the chance to respond instead
  • to not intimitate others by your quick response

I was quick with grammatical and formatting improvements. I avoided stating the obvious, especially comments like "I do this too." I tried to think of related but different ideas and start pages for them. I didn't want people to feel that they were in a conversation, especially with me.

In others words: what is the optimum response timetowards a visitor?

I didn't think in these terms. A great post might say it all and need no response what so ever. I would often send personal email thanking contributors who gave a lot.

At how many pages did your wiki take off?

I would guess the critical mass (measured in pages) was about 100 or 200. Volume makes it more likely that someone would find a place to contribute. Even for those who don't contribute need to leave with the feeling that there is more to be explored. Good luck with your site. -- WardCunningham


Last edited April 1, 2001
Return to WelcomeVisitors