A few weeks ago a colleague of mine at Wikimedia UK drew my attention to the iKnowHow wiki and I thought it was a great idea. I invited the KnowHow team to our offices for a cup of coffee and we discussed the project in a bit more detail. It reinforced to me why the project could be so valuable to the not-for-profit sector.
This week has been an exciting one for us lot at iKnowhow, as we met up for a chat with the guys (and girl!) at Wikimedia Foundation UK. This is the UK 'chapter' of the organisation responsible for Wikipedia.
It was great to get their expert insight into wiki development, and hear all about the amazing work they have been doing around the UK. This includes the world's first Wikipedia town in Monmouth, South East Wales - see Monmouthpedia.
After last week's blog you can see that not all of our contributions to iKnowHow have been, well...useful. Spamming of wiki's like Wikipedia have unfortunately been one of the biggest deterrents for experts (academics, professionals or enthusiasts) in contributing their knowledge. The fact that there aren't more academics embracing our largest online encylopedia has undoubtedly been a hot topic for 'wikipedians' given what the impact that their expert knowledge would have for the online encyclopedia.
I came across a rather telling statistic this week; that the median number of contributors for the 9000+ public wikis that use the same software as Wikipedia is 7 (Kittur & Kraut, unpublished data). Doesn't sound promising does it? But this is good news for us, as that means we have beaten the curve; with over seven contributors in our first week.
Last week David Wilcox commented on the 11th blog post rightly saying 'I agree with the analysis. But do you want to continue with idea of *persuasion* when the theme is now relationships and network building?'.
Thanks to everyone who commented on our last iKnowHow blog about persuasive communications via the site and our LinkedIn group. It’s clearly an important topic for us all. Madeleine has promised to start a how-to guide based on what we have learnt so far so there can be a permanent place where you can share your ideas.
In the meantime we wanted to share with you what we have learnt since last week.
We launched the first iKnowHow wiki section (collaborative working) just over a month ago and instantly got a flurry of contributions. It was very exciting after all our planning to see people keen to try out this new 'thing' and join in with the fun. However in recent weeks contributions have dripped rather than flowed. Why? And what can we do about it?
Well first things first, a quick plug: today we launch the third and final subject for our iKnowHow wiki project; giving you complete access to all of our material on commissioning and procurement.
So, back to the issue of this blog: how to strike the right balance between creating a good reading experience and making it obvious that a wiki guide is editable? After all, most people come to our site to read information and advice – they don’t want their reading experience interrupted by big edit buttons and menus. However, wikis thrive with lots of editorial input – it needs to be obvious that people can edit them (and easy for them to do so).
I found a very interesting article this week that I would like to share with you all. It's called ‘the nine reasons why women don’t edit Wikipedia’, published in 2010 by Sue Gardner, responding to a New York Times article that revealed, that 'less than 15% of Wikipedia's hundreds of thousands of contributors are women' (reduced to 9% in 2011). A startling statistic that immediately caught my attention and had already been a topic of conversation at NCVO HQ during earlier research before we launched iKnowHow.
One week on from the launch we are delighted by the fantastic feedback we have had both internally (at the NCVO) and externally. It has been great to hear the positive comments from users; and that they have found iKnowHow easy to use.