Using SharePoint as a Wiki

4th September 2013

A simple way of sharing information amongst team-members

Wikis are collaboratively created websites that provide information around certain topics. The most well-known Wiki, of course, is Wikipedia. As a crowd-sourced encyclopedia, users can create pages from scratch or update other pages by adding or correcting information.

Because of their collaborative nature, wikis can also be useful tools to use within organisations. Anyone can contribute to a wiki and, indeed, they benefit from having lots of different contributors. SharePoint has wiki functionality built into it, so it’s easy to deploy a wiki straight from an existing SharePoint deployment.

If you’re look for a means of sharing information, though, wikis aren’t your only option in SharePoint. If you are planning a company-wide tool for containing all the information that staff may need to know about the organisation, then an Enterprise Wiki will be the best option. Team Sites, on the other hand, are quick and easy to setup and provide a good means of sharing information about a specific project or department.

Although both can be set up as required, Enterprise wikis are more geared towards encouraging ‘many-to-many’ communication, whereas team sites cater more towards ‘one-to-many’ communication. Team sites can have multiple contributors, but are aimed more at small-scale information provision that large-scale collaborative communication.

Team Sites have two main benefits when considering information management:

  • Editorial control – Anyone with full access permissions can control which users can create/edit articles and view articles on a Team Site.
  • Version control – Users can view previous versions of an article, including when and by whom revisions were made. If any changes in a version are incorrect, the a previous version of the article can be reinstated.

In contrast to Team Sites, which tend to be more formalised in their structure, Enterprise Wikis can often become more useful as the location of a company’s ‘unstated knowledge’. Because any staff members can input into an Enterprise Wiki, lots of useful but informal ‘office floor’ is often added that would not appear in a company handbook.

Both Enterprise Wikis and Team Sites are good ways of sharing information within an organisation – and their integration of the rest of your SharePoint deployment will provide more functionality than using a standalone wiki. As a collaboration platform, these are strong features within SharePoint, but fundamentally it is their adoption and integration with working practices that makes or breaks the benefits for an organisation.

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