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I've been involved in social media for years, so even though I didn't have much wiki experience, I thought the idea of TechNet Wiki was a great opportunity to work with the community and to collaborate. But even then (early 2010), I didn't even know how big of an impact it was going to have on me and on the community. Now I know.
If you haven't figured it out yet, that's a constant theme of this blog... to reveal the impact that TechNet Wiki is causing.
So here is my list of the top 7 reasons why TechNet Wiki will change your world (why 7? well, it has something to do with perfection)...
7. Microsoft employees get to collaborate directly with customers on the content. Likewise, technology enthusiasts, IT professionals, and consultants get to collaborate directly with the people who make the software. Five years earlier, Microsoft employees could only post in the TechNet/MSDN Library or maybe on a blog... but not collaborate with customers on the content (perhaps a forum conversations about the content, but not direct collaborations)! This collaboration would have been difficult or even impossible (especially since no tools like TechNet Wiki existed). But the world has changed, and we know now that the personal interaction helps us make our products better, it helps us decide what content we need to provide, and it helps our customers do their jobs better.
For example, an MCC can make a good case for becoming an MVP when collaborating with Microsoft employees and learning faster how to impact the community. Example #2: An MVP writing a book would love connections with Microsoft employees in order to get the inside story. Example #3: An MVP wanting to become an employee of Microsoft would build valuable relationships with Microsoft employees. Example #4: Customers could get information directly from the people who helped build the product, so that they can pick up on all the tips and tricks. Example #5: A Microsoft PM (working on the product) starts an article, a Microsoft Escalation Engineer adds a section, a Microsoft TSP updates another section, and then an MVP and Partner come in and add some references, a use case, and update a few dead links and typos. No matter which example it is, the potential is an amazing and rich interaction and the result is a higher quality content experience than has ever been possible! As a former technical writer, this really changed my world (both in interacting across Microsoft on content and in interacting with customers on content)!
6. Software professionals get credit for their contributions. Microsoft employees could just focus on Help files (which are 100% anonymous), or whitepapers (which only provide a name and don't provide strong SEO), or they can author on the Wiki where their name and picture is stamped with each contribution (including links to their profiles, blogs, activities, and more). They're all of a sudden an individual whose accomplishments are made known to the world.
It's similar for the Microsoft community as well (non Microsoft employees). You can author internal processes for your company, or you can author into an environment where you get a name, picture, bio, and a link to your blog or Twitter. By creating a searchable name for yourself, you're opening up future project and job opportunities without even trying. Picture sitting at your next job interview. The hiring manager searches (Bing or Google) for your name, and all of a sudden all your accomplishments are proven via the 100+ articles you wrote, proving that you're a subject-matter expert. That's like opening up a new world of opportunity.
5. Leave Selfish Authoring behind. I've said this a lot before. Once you start authoring in a collaborative environment, all of a sudden writing for a whitepaper, for a Help file, or even on a blog feels like selfish authoring in comparison. This is why many community members have stopped writing their procedural blog posts and have instead wrote those articles directly on TechNet Wiki. You look back on authoring your own articles as a selfish experience on a closed authoring platform, which results in a lower level of quality.
Being selfish just isn't fun. You might think authoring is fun now (on a selfish-authoring platform), but you have no idea until you leave selfish authoring behind and try some social authoring!
4. You are now multi-lingual. Poof! Now you're multi-lingual. Just like that. The current Internet browsers have great translation features. In Internet Explorer, you can highlight any text, right-click it, and then click Translate with Bing. This opens up Bing translator. It auto-detects your language and spits it out in whatever language you want! Also, every page on TNWiki has the nifty Microsoft Translator widget on the right. You can translate an English article into any language that's listed (most are). And then you can even edit the translation if it's not the best possible translation. That's sent to a moderator to verify, and you improve the translation for future readers (and improve the machine translation as well). Suddently it's very easy to navigate through all the different languages.
And if you don't speak English natively, you might notice the Other Languages sections at the bottom of the articles. Someone already translated it for you! The world is getting smaller and smaller!
3. Kiss typos goodbye. This seems silly, but the truth is that a TON of typoz slip into forum threads, Help files, whitepapers, blog posts, adn more. But with the Wiki, anybody can fix the typoes, and hundreds of typose are found all the thyme! The result is that the documentation can now become much more acurate and easier to reed!
2. The content plugs in. In blogs, your content library is limited because you're one author. It never plugs into anywhere. You can only find it via search. Likewise, even forums are only tossed into topical buckets (forums or forum groups). So you usually navigate forums by filtering your list or by searching a forum. Likewise, Gallery contributions can be tagged, searched, or added into lists, but the content really doesn't cohesively link to the other content. However, with TechNet Wiki, I see content written by half a dozen people and then linked to each other. One person writes one article that fits into an existing content set and is linked to from a number of pages.
1. The synergetic opportunities abound. If you already write a blog, answer questions in forums, or contribute Gallery or CodePlex code, then you can leverage your work, synergize, and increase your Recognition Points, Achievement Medals, and reputation in the community. See our synergetic blog posts about using TechNet Wiki with Forums (take 2), TechNet Gallery, CodePlex, YouTube, and Blogs.
There's so much synergy that we have a whole category of blog posts to explain it:
Did you find my "easter eggs" on #3 (Typoes)? =^)
Have a wonderful end of the weekend!