After I carefully read some of great contributions from my fellows BizTalk Wiki bloggers like: “Guardians of the BizTalk TechNet Wiki Articles”, “Weekend Surprise: Evolvement” and “Brothers in Wiki”, I realized three main, good surprises:
- The total number of BizTalk related articles is currently almost 250 with only around 30 people contributing! Amazing number considering the fact that there were approximately forty articles to begin with. That’s also made me realize that the BizTalk Community is deeply committed to TechNet Wiki.
- Over 50% was written and all the articles were reviewed, edited, updated and sanitized by me, Tord and Steef-Jan. Wow, I honest didn’t realize I was that deeply committed to the TechNet Wiki. I had an idea of my contributions, but I never looked at the numbers.
- “However when it comes to the TechNet wiki the fundamentals will always stay the same, we will have the articles, capabilities to change, edit and add new articles, don't be afraid to forget a tag or spelling someone will be in shortly and update the article and fix any spelling or any other elements that may be confusing or wrong, and eventually you'll get the grip.” It’s so easy!
There are a number of good articles that you can read that explain the reasons to use TechNet Wiki, some guidelines to create articles and one of my favorites Best Practices for Giving Credit that will help and guide you to start contributing on this platform.
However today I would like to talk to you about some advice that I have acquired in my journey on this last 2 years on the TechNet Wiki and try to address some of the best practices that you can have. This advice and best practices are also related to one of my first contributions that I wrote in this blog: Defining the Role of a TechNet Wiki Editor, in which I tried to address some of the most importance aspects of all the roles that we can play or have in the TechNet Wiki.
Today I would like to talk about a simple question: Can I or Should I do it? And try to describe some best practices or best behaviors that you should have on the TechNet Wiki because in the end it’s your image and your name that can be affected.
Can I create a Stub Article?
Stub articles are pages that doesn't have enough content to be truly useful or that you create if you are planning on adding content later… or hope that other members of the community will add.
Yes you can and you should create Stub article...
Please only add stubs if you plan to add content later (it's your technology area that you know about, so you can come back sometime and write out the article, if no one else writes it first). And please only add stubs that are very general and high level. For example, someone might help fill out an article called the "BizTalk Pricing Guide", but they won't help fill one out called "BizTalk: How to Troubleshoot Error 322". Stubs that are too specific will not get filled out by the community. If the article you have in mind is a specific scenario or feature, it's better to wait to create the article until you have the time to accomplish a good portion of it yourself. Remember, that you don't have to write a whole article at once. You can write a paragraph or two and come back to it. See Wiki: How to Create a Stub Article.
Can I edit articles from other authors?
Yes you can and you should edit other author’s articles! You don’t need to be an author, or just an author, to contribute in the TechNet Wiki. You can play and you should also play the role of the Editor or Technical Editor (you can see the differences here) but only if you are improving the article.
Even a small grammatical correction is a good improvement in the article...
Please make sure you read through an article and the tags fully before you edit them. That way, you can make all your changes with one edit instead of with multiple edits. It's okay if that's what happens, but it's more considerate to the author if you can get all your edits in at once. See Wiki: Technical Editing.
Can I add, remove or edit tags?
Yes you can and you should add or remove tags on the articles! For me that’s an important task for a better search on the Wiki...
Again, please try to get all your tag edits done at once. Thank you!
Can I take a question and answer on the forums and transform it into an article?
Yes you can and you should… you can use whatever you need to be inspired to write a contribution, this can be a forum question, a problem or a need that you face in you day by day work, a post or an article from other author.
The most important thing, and in this particular case I will talk about transforming a forum question in an article, is that you don't just copy the question and answer to a simple article without anything more! You can do this… however if you take the same question and explain even more about the problem, give the right solution or possible solutions (since some problems can have several solutions) and explain why… that’s an amazing contribution!
And remember that for example if you one day aspire to be an MVP, it is not the quantity that matters most! Yes it is a considerable factor, but the panel considers the quality, quantity, and level of impact of your contributions.
The Wiki article can get more views, it can be easier to read, and it can be much easier to find by the community. Plus it can end up with some collaboration that will make the answer even more complete! We're currently working on a new Wiki article with best practices about converting a Forum answer into a new Wiki article. Stay tuned!
Can I edit articles that are marked as “in-progress”?
Yes you can and in a certain way you should but only in some specific situations...
In my personal opinion, you should wait to see if that author finishes his article and then if it's the right moment, you make your contributions and improve the article. And never edit the article after a few minutes following an author's edition because, probably, the author made ??a partial copy of the article in order not to lose their work...
Again in my opinion, the only reason I edit an article "in-progress" is when I see that the article is unchanged for a long time (months) and somehow I'm trying to help, or to help the author remember to finish the article so that it becomes useful.
Can I edit articles outside my specialist field?
Yes you can and in a certain way you should... There can be several good factors for this to happen:
- I'm reading an article and found one or several grammatical errors
- The tags don't properly identify the article
- The article has great content, but it is completely unformatted or inconsistent formatting
My final considerations for you:
… it's priceless
TechNet Wiki has many awards like Top Contributions or Wiki Ninja Belts that I also like and everybody wants to be on that list at least once, but they exist just for trying to inspire and encourage people to contribute, and in a way to promote the author, their contributions, and somehow also acquire respect and knowledge by the other community members...
Having people complementing our contributions, saying thanks for helping and having respect for you… it's priceless...
... take your time
Creating an article, at least for me, demands a considerable time and like Steef-Jan mentions in his article is “a process of writing, editing, formatting, adding pictures or images” and it’s true!
Take your time, mark your articles as "in-progress", and have all necessary care to produce an excellent article both in terms of content and presentation.
Again, for me it is more important to have Quality over the quantity, and why? Because in my opinion the quality of the articles will be a relevant factor for the quantity to appear in a transparent and relevant way.
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wieses