Wiki Life: Why are there comments on TechNet Wiki?


It’s a good question, isn’t it? Why are there comments on the bottom of every wiki article on TechNet Wiki?

After all, you won’t find them on other wiki sites, right? They aren’t on SharePoint wikis or just about any wiki that I can think of.

Here is an example of the Comments feature on TechNet Wiki…

This is an image:

So why do we have them?

Well, for starters, we got them out of the box with the platform. But a lot of people worked hard to advocate for the existence of the comments (myself included) and for the existence of the expected feature of receiving email notifications when folks comment on your articles (that you wrote and/or subscribed to).

I’m going to answer that question by first proposing a question of my own…

What makes Blogs a social tool?

Think about it… blogs are basically easy-to-author news pages. Why are they social? First, they have profiles, and in some environments those profiles help you learn about the author and see their other work (Microsoft Profiles do an excellent job of this).

Second, blogs have comments. The reader now has the ability to talk back. The reader can leave an opinion on the topic, mention a typo, mention a problem with a link, make a suggestion, answer a question, say “great job”, or write anything on their minds. You can check out this blog site for examples of that. We even had someone leave a comment with a link to a video that reminded him of something he saw in the blog post. Readers can say anything they want!

And usually it’s very helpful. It’s encouraging to know that people are paying attention and reading, even if they might disagree.

Let’s go back to Wiki…

For TechNet Wiki, we want to basically steal all the social aspects of blogs… the profiles and comments. And we have. You usually don’t have such a robust method of finding out the author and editors of a Wiki article. But TechNet Wiki gives that to you (you can even hover over the name to see their Recognition Points and Achievement Medals and to see who they work for). But let’s talk about the comments…

Why comment on a Wiki article? Can’t you just edit the article instead?

True, but maybe you don’t want to edit the article. Maybe you want to ask a question about the article. Or maybe you want to give your opinion or compliment the author. Maybe you want to comment that you linked to the article from a blog, tweet, or forum thread. There are many scenarios where you might want to simply talk about an article without editing it.

I’ve noticed that not all readers are comfortable editing an article when they see a typo, a mistake, an opportunity to mention something, or a link that needs to be updated. A lot more folks would feel more comfortable just dropping the comment. And they do. I’ve seen a lot of comments about edits that need to be made. Think about all the potential wiki edits that have never been made because most wikis don’t have a comment feature on the pages!

Now let’s talk about the editing comments.

When you edit an article, you can leave a comment to explain what edit you made. That way you can explain to the author that you updated a link or fixed a typo. That way you are more likely to make the edits when you know that you can communicate with the author and collaborate more as a result.

Plus both comments and leaving edit comments give you marks toward Achievement Medals! Here they are…

BRONZE:

  • New Wiki Commentator – 1 Wiki Comment

SILVER:

  • Wiki Community Editor – 10 Revision Comments (to explain your edits)
  • Wiki Commentator II – 35 Wiki Comments

GOLD:

  • Wiki Commentator III – 100 Wiki Comments
  • Wiki Community Editor II – 50 Revision Comments

Learn more about Achievement Medals here.

And I’ll leave you with a few more lists.

Here is a list of all the types of comments that I’ve seen people leave on TechNet Wiki:

  • Encouragement (about why it’s a great article)
  • Where folks have linked to the article from (such as a blog, forum thread, or tweet)
  • Links to similar articles or to other websites with more information
  • A typo they saw (but didn’t want to edit)
  • A link that doesn’t work (but they didn’t want to edit)
  • Opinion about the subject
  • A recommendation for an improvement or section that should be added to the article
  • Questions about the topic
  • Conversations about edits that need to be made next (often between an author and other contributors)
  • Findings about related Known Issues or Workarounds
  • Status of what you’re currently working on (if you plan to add images, more links, or a new section) – or what you just added (like a section or list)

So go check out the comments on TechNet Wiki! Here are some Wiki articles with a lot of comments…

And, since this topic is about comments… Leave a comment!

Leave a comment with either a type of comment you’ve seen on TechNet Wiki that I should add to that list or a comment about a Wiki article with interesting comments, which I should add to the list of examples (be sure to include the URL).

Thanks!

   – Ninja Ed (Blog, Twitter, Wiki, Profile)

Comments (10)

  1. Luigi Bruno says:

    Comments are always useful, above all when you want to suggest an improvement for a Wiki page.

  2. Ed Price - MSFT says:

    Thanks Luigi! I updated one of the bullets to use your phrase.

  3. Luigi Bruno says:

    Thanks Ed! 😉

  4. Ed Price - MSFT says:

    Everytime I look at this page, I get confused. I see the comments after the first paragraph and think that the whole blog is only one paragraph long!

  5. Ed Price - MSFT says:

    I added another bullet of what you can do with comments… "Status of what you're currently working on (if you plan to add images, more links, or a new section) – or what you just added (like a section or list)"

    …which is what this comment is doing. =^)

  6. Ed Price - MSFT says:

    Um, this article just jumped much higher in views. Thanks everyone!

  7. Santosh Bhandarkar says:

    Nice article.

  8. Ed Price - MSFT says:

    Thanks Santosh!

  9. hassan sayed issa20014 says:

    Congratulations

  10. aw says:

    hai, I just want to tell you that I am just very new to blogs and seriously loved this website. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post .
    You amazingly come with really good posts. Thanks a lot for sharing your blog Microsoft.

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