I am a big fan of Wikis as a collaboration tool, and understand part of my appreciation for them is that I am more of a "free format" sort of person -- rarely looking for a template. Thus my reasoning behind the post Collaboration is supposed to be messy.
At the same time, there is a need to provide some organization for a wiki or it risks going all out of control and becoming unusable for those who prefer templates. This article on Wiki Design (scroll halfway down the page to see it) provides some good tips and insights into how to loosely organize a wiki, from people who have experience doing so.
Some interesting excerpts:
- it may be useful to commit to having periodic reviews of the structure where representatives from each team—who should also be users—sit down and agree on how they should restructure the content
- “I’ve found that building in good structure from the beginning helps a lot. Generally, that means someone who has information architecture (IA) skills and knows the capabilities of the wiki tool well should develop an overall framework within which the wiki can grow—and perhaps even build landing pages and stub pages it’s likely the team will need."
- Often, it’s a good idea to create sections of the wiki for the various disciplines on a product team—like Product Management, User Experience, Development, and Quality Assurance. Creating templates for specific types of pages also helps bring consistency to your wiki at the page level, making it easier to find information within pages and ensuring people add the proper information to pages.
- Someone within each discipline can act as a keeper of their section of the wiki, so if the wiki’s structure starts disintegrating over time, he or she can restore order. This sometimes means moving information that someone has placed on a page where it doesn’t really belong to its own page and adding it to the navigation bar, so people can find it.
- Most of all, it seems to take some explicit agreements about how people will add information to the site, and a shared understanding about page titles, section headings, and even how much goes on a page. It’s not magic, just housekeeping. The work doesn’t happen by itself. When I’ve seen it work well, it’s been a conscious part of the team process.
What are your tips for organizing Wikis -- without losing the flexibility?