The Wiki Gardener: Tasks and Requirements

The idea of a wiki gardener is outstanding. There is hardly a company that is not delighted by this principle. But only a few companys actually transform this concept systematically and successfully. In doing so, it is generally no drama to recruit a gardener internally, and entrust him regularly with appropriate work. All you have to know is what a so called wiki gnome does, and why and who fits the job profile.

Goals of the wiki gardener

The establishment of a wiki gardener is not an end in itself, but has a specific benefit: The wiki gardeners work assists the employees activation and efficient work with the system.

The gardener should work toward these goals:

  • avoid ‘broken-window-syndrome’: if a wiki is not presentable, it loses acceptance.
  • accomplish routine tasks, which take up much time, but do not depict an augmented challenge (keyword: diligent work)
  • worry about a consistent formal preparation
  • enable an intensive wiki use for the team by focusing on the content

Which tasks does a wiki gardener take over?

A wiki gardener should assist fellow employees, to focus primarly on the concerning contents of the work. This does not mean that the wiki gardener is he who has to grin and bear it, and wash up the coffee cups of his colleagues in the kitchen every evening. The wiki gardener also does not distribute free passes for sloppy wiki documents. On the contrary, the wiki gardener takes over a catalyzing function: he pulls weeds and helps others balance their weaknesses.

These are his responsibilities:

  • provide requirements for a wiki adoption and create a useful application
  • practice systematical monitoring of the new and varied content
  • if applicable, and according to internal wiki policy: integrate contents out of the comments on relevant pages, as long as the content know-how is available
  • delete comments, when the elaborate solution has been taken over in the page content
  • undertake cosmetical tasks, so that the wiki does not overgrow with weeds (typing errors, grammar and spelling, incomprehensible verbalization etc.)
  • repair and insert links in wiki pages
  • catchphrase, tagging and hierarchical integration of pages
  • improve clarity and legibility of pages
  • possibly secure consistant editing of pages
  • create examples for other users, how the wiki can be used

This is how the work of a wiki gardener can be summarized:

The wiki gardener does not have to take everyones trash out.

The wiki gardeners task is to think and structure, and make sure that the wiki-pages are current and tidy.

Who can take over the role?

It is not necessary to especially recruit a new employee as a wiki gardener. Does one employee already nurture the content into a document management system or supervise the intranet on a content related basis? This employee could take over the wiki maintenance trouble free.

Numerous corporations have colleagues, that are directly searching for a job. Are any employees on parental leave? Many colleagues, that are devoting time to their offspring, do not want to retreat out of the company entirely, and would like to actively attend to the business. Technically it is no problem, to perform the tasks of a wiki gardener from the home-office. Or do you have any part time employees that want to increase their hourly share?

Basically every colleague with a junior status could meet the requirements of a wiki gardener, provided there is a wiki affinity to some extent. There is no need, for instance, to withdraw a highly qualified employee out of the project business for gardening responsibilities.

Conclusion

A wiki gardener, to some extent, tethers longlasting internal resources. But this worthwhile investment pays off in mid and longterm: The wiki gardener avoids chaos in the organically growing enterprise wiki, worries about up-to-dateness, and faster, better detectable information. He establishes a context and increases usability through appealing, clean and structured wiki documents.

Are you considering introducing a wiki? Are you evaluating promising software? Do you need support with an up-and-running wiki project? We are experts in business communication and would be happy to consult with you, so please contact us. Further information on this topic can be found on our special page on enterprise wikis.

Further information

Architecture of a Wiki-Project: Elements, Process, Approach, Rules
Architecture of a Wiki-Project: Customers’ Frequently Asked Questions
Archiving Plugin for Confluence 
Factors for the Success of Wikis 1: Technology is important, but not King
Factors for the Success of Wikis 2: Organization is the Key
Factors for the Success of Wikis 3: Overcoming Resistance from the Company Culture

 

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