Wiki Life: How TechNet Wiki is like a Blog

Welcome to Wednesday's Wiki Life!

Now there's something confusing. How is TechNet Wiki like a blog??? Didn't we already mention that TechNet Wiki is different than a blog? Wasn't that the point of this blog post...

Wiki Life: Why should I use TechNet Wiki if I already blog about Microsoft technologies?


Yes, that's correct.

To be honest with you, I got that question when we were planning this blog about TechNet Wiki back in the summer of 2011... Why do we need a blog? Why don't we make the announcements straight on TechNet Wiki? That way people can edit them.

That kind of made sense. But a blog is different than a wiki. By authoring on the TechNet Blogs system, we're sending announcements out into the existing social system. And so a blog is a great way to make a longer-form announcement or editorial.


And we also get people who want TechNet Wiki to become more blog like. They want to control the permissions of the authors and editors. Hmm, that sounds like a blog, not a wiki.


But this blog post (what you're reading right now) is more about how TechNet Wiki is like a blog. Meaning, what are the aspects of TechNet Wiki that are blog like?

Well, TechNet Wiki was originally built on a blog platform, so we got an opportunity to include some features that are normally only found on a blog...


Blog-Like Social Features on TechNet Wiki:

1. Profile Information. On every page of TechNet Wiki, you're going to find a profile section, with the person's photo, their name, a link to their profile, and when they published the article! Here, check one of mine out: TechNet Wiki Community Council: Areas of Focus. And then under that is the same thing for the person who last edited the article! Try to find that on Wikipedia (or another wiki). And it doesn't stop there! Hover over the link to my profile, and you get the sweet feature that you get hovering over the link to my profile from this blog post... you get a nice hover card that gives you more information about the author (or last editor)! You can see their Recognition Points, how many Achievement Medals they have, what company they work for, and what their latest three Achievement Medals were! 

Why this matters: Well, the result is that you get to know the people who are writing the articles and making the edits. It matters because...

    1. Build Relationships. You feel more like a community when you get to know the people in the community, and you begin building valuable relationships and adding to your network.
    2. System of Trustworthiness. This creates a natural system of trust, reliability, and shows how official something might be. For example, if an MVP wrote an article, then you might trust that article more. If a Microsoft employee wrote it, you might feel like it's more of an official document. If someone wrote it (or made a large edit), and they have a lot of Recognition Points and Achievement Medals, then you might trust them more than someone without that history and experience.

2. Comments. On the main tab (Article tab) of each Wiki page, you can scroll to the bottom and find a comments section. In that section, you can ask a question, give advice, or even just thank the person who wrote the article. This is not something I've seen in other wikis! It's normally just found on blogs. But it makes TechNet Wiki a far more social experience.

Why this matters: You get to know people more, and your interactions are far deeper. Here are specifics...

    1. Social. First, you also get to know people better when you see their personality shine through the comments.
    2. Appreciation. You get to congratulate people and simply show appreciation. We know that TechNet Wiki articles are made from volunteer contributions, even for most Microsoft employees. Well here's a chance to show how thankful you are! And for those who receive the appreciation, it's far more motivating for them to continue. The fact is that people who are thanked tend to do more and people who are criticized when they try to help... those people tend to stop helping. So please join me in using comments to thank people and to avoid criticism. Thankfully, criticism is incredibly rare (we're not YouTube, you know). But if you see someone is causing trouble with their contributions, please let me (or another council member) know, so that we can inquire with grace and kindness.
    3. Questions and Answers: Have you ever read a wiki article and wanted to ask the authors a question? Well, we totally support that! Wow, what a novel concept! =^)  -- We have had some amazing authors, ready to jump at answering questions that the community asks. And those answers sometimes become new sections in the article, making it even better!
    4. Graceful Suggestions: Not everyone is ready to jump in and edit a wiki article. Some people simply don't understand wiki or don't know where to start. Or maybe they don't want to step on someone's toes by assuming their change is worthy. Do you realize how many thousands of valuable edits we lose on wikis because of this?? So many! Well, look no further! You just leave a Wiki comment if you don't want to make the edit yourself. You can suggest that a link needs to be updated, that a new section is added, that a term is used incorrectly, etc. You can validate your edit by leaving a comment before you ever make the edit yourself! I saw how fantastic this is first hand. When I was authoring Release Notes on the Wiki, for every one edit I got on the Wiki article, I got about 5 comments about other valuable edits that could be made. It was fantastic, like opening up all these opportunities for collaborations and refinements that didn't use to exist! Example: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 SP2 Release Notes  

3. Tags. You normally don't see tags on a wiki! You see them on a blog, like this page you're on now. For example, see steef-jan wiggers. But you also get the same tag cloud navigation over on TechNet Wiki. For example: Hyper-V

Why this matters: Because tags rock! You can create your own categories, and you can filter by more than one tag. So you can find all the Japanese articles about troubleshooting Windows 7 that also contain a video! Go here to to understand all the values of tags: Wiki Life: Tags on a Wiki? Why Tags help make TechNet Wiki as AWESOME as it is!!! Also, read here for instructions on how to filter by more than one tag: Wiki Life: How to filter TechNet Wiki articles by more than one tag

4. History Tab. On TechNet Wiki, the History tab gives you a more blog-like way to check out and compare the history. For example: Hyper-V: Gotchas - History tab. You clearly see who the Revision Authors were, you can easily click to go to their profiles, and below the history Revisions section, you have a list of all the Editor Comments that were made as people edited the article. So you can know what people did! Again this creates a valuable social environment that you just don't get on other wikis! 

5. Tag Results. Once again, you get the name, picture, and profile link for the person who last edited your article. So the tag results are far more social than other categorical navigation systems you'd find on other wikis. Example: Virtualization



So there you go! Leave a comment if you have a question or think I missed something! The bottom line is that for TechNet Wiki, we took every social feature from the blogs (and cool navigation features like Tags), and we incorporated them into our wiki, making TechNet Wiki far more social and fun than other wikis!

And you might ask... "Well, Ed, you made it obvious what TechNet Wiki's secret weapon is! What happens when all the other wikis get wise to this and copy our lead, incorporating more social features and navigation features like tags?"


Well, that would make the world a better place, wouldn't it? =^)


Jump on in! The Wiki is warm!

   - Ninja Ed


Comments (3)

  1. Wonderful article .. This should be featured on the homepage for a loooooooonng time !!

  2. Ha! Thanks, Gokan! I dare the other wikis of the world to copy us! =^)

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