In actual fact I wanted to entitle this Grumpy article “RTFW”, where the W stands for Wiki. I had fondly imagined that this acronym would appear a lot in the forums. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Perhaps I’ve been looking at the wrong forums, but I have not as yet seen any reference to the Wiki. People are still busy posting the same answers to the same old questions. Some must be really fast typists, since they manage to post one page answers to questions within the minute that the question has been posted.
Why is this happening? Let’s break things down in the familiar Grumpy manner
- The wiki is only a couple of weeks old and not everybody knows about it yet. That might be the case, but when I see how people in general jump on the bandwagon when it comes to new things within SDN, and see how the wiki was welcomed at its launch, I find this rather strange. Having said this, I would expect some references to it.
- “The Wiki doesn’t contain enough information yet”, you might say. This might be the consequence of its recentness, but instead of complaining about this, you would be better off adding the information that you yourself find to be lacking.
- Wiki and forums aren’t integrated, and people find it hard to find. That might be a good point, but, as we say in Belgium, some people never look any further than their noses anyway. I suppose I should count myself lucky in that I have a shapely one – I’m referring to my nose – but some have smaller specimens and even then they can’t seem to see either the Rules of engagement or the Grumpies on good behaviour in the forums. So the chance that they will ever look at the wiki is rather minimal.
It has already been suggested a couple of times that a system like the Service Market Place messages system could be a solution. The first step is the obligatory search in order to prevent the submission of topics that have already been covered. I would like to tweak it further though, since it sometimes works in a rather annoying manner and can easily be bypassed. Without trying to put any commercial message in here, I want to refer to how the guys from Cloudmark solve things. Over there they have both a knowledge base and a Community forum, but they know that everybody finds their own problems so special and specific that they want to have dedicated support via e-mail. Their contact page lets you (in contrast with SMP) fill everything in and will search automatically for solutions with high accuracy.
Something similar with a search in the SDN Wiki would be nice.
That needs some discipline from the end user too. Subjects like “Hi (friends)”, “Help” and “ABAP” within an ABAP forum are not very descriptive. A filter preventing such meaningless subject titles would be nice.
- Wiki scares some people off since they think that they will screw up things when using it. It is indeed a fact that things can easily be changed. I stupidly clicked on the wrong button the other day resulting in the deletion of a tag. Luckily I knew the subject and I could add it again. Strangely enough, my mistake wasn’t recorded at all. Despite the FAQ on Wiki – funny to see a FAQ on a FAQ – the learning curve might be steeper than one might desire. Maybe a distinction between read and edit mode would make a difference. Or maybe we could use the same system as with the web logs where one needs to apply to edit and the first scribblings are guided. I know that one would prevent people from adding things to it easily, but surely it would also prevent the Wikipedia pitfall/discussion to a certain extent.
- People want to score their own points and aren’t interested in referring to the Wiki for an answer. I see this kind of selfish behaviour happen in the forums when people add exactly the same answer with (sometimes) different wording in the hope of grabbing some points. That has been the subject of earlier Grumpies, so you probably already know my feelings about this by now.
Having said this, I sincerely hope that you will prove me wrong and that Wiki will be an unmitigated success, both in its use by forum posters to find solutions and in the addition of information in order for it to become an extensive knowledge base. Ideally it should mean that we will have to wait a very long while before we hit another 1000000 forum 1,000,000+ Forum Posts