Re: could be significantly better
> having had a fair amount of experience
> with wikis, including teaching a CEO
> type how to use them, I have come to the
> conclusion that they are three-quarters
> a good tool. The ability to create new
> pages and using a relatively simple
> markup language is a wonderful benefit.
> However, the Web browser based user
> interface for editing is most politely
> described as a stinking pile of poo.
> In this day and age, there is no excuse
> for exposing any user to a markup
> language unless you truly hate your user
> community. The argument about markup
> language is giving the user more power
> may be true in very rare circumstances
> but in most cases, it is nothing more
> than bragging about the size of one's
> technological manhood.
> There are any number of tools which
> provide a nice UI letting the user do
> all of the wiki operations (style
> changes, tables, lists etc.) in a
> familiar and even comfortable way. They
> can be browser based (editors written in
> extension of existing word processors
> through plug-ins techniques. Either
> way, when one provides a nicer user
> experience, it widens the base of users
> who are comfortable and confident using
> wikis as tools for any number of tasks.
I agree Wikis are 3/4 of what we need for average people to share and collaborate their information. I set one up at work using phpwiki. A few employees don't like the style of it but it works and they use it. They could code HTML just as easily as using the wiki, but most employees can't code HTML in their sleep. Other (most) employees like what it does and have gotten past the opinions of whether they think the web interface for making changes is ideal. It's better than nothing or editing HTML. We've got more than 500 pages to our wiki at work and a few more every day. We can search it for customer names, equipment, locations, brands, IP addresses, parts, key words of instruction documents, etc.. Each page also has a version history so I can see what changed when by whom. The results are great and the training was minimal.
It's a 85% success. In order to be a 100% success, it would need, like you said, more options for entering information in. I like tables, and tables are too advanced for most wiki using employees to make. I am converting some of them to database, but at immense labor effort to make a web based system for updating the tables for the various ways people use various tables and making them display pretty so that people don't need the wiki to do it.
Can you be more specific about alternatives for people entering data for areas that the wiki isn't fabulous at?
Even if we do have good alternatives for customer data and notes, the wiki is a great place to keep instructions that need frequent changes, work policies, links we want to share with other employees, etc...