5 more uses for a wiki at work

In followup to Lifehack‘s 5 uses for a wiki at work, via Social Media in Australia, here are another five:

1. Technical documentation

Funny this wasn’t in the original five, but perhaps it’s just too obvious. Most places I’ve worked, the wiki’s been installed by the techies and has taken off in that group first. Invariably, we’ve used it to document our systems — usually at a high level, and as an addition to the low-level comments scattered through the code. The wiki at my current workplace includes a node for every database and every code module, explaining what they are and how they interact. And since developers are more likely to have had experience with wikis before, you probably won’t have too much trouble getting them to dump the odd thought into the wiki, when a Word document might be too much to ask.

2. Drafting documents

If a group of people need to draft a document together, you can do worse than use the wiki to build consensus over its contents. You’ll probably want to paste the results into a decent word processor for formatting when you get near the final stages, but in the early brainstorming stages it can be a great way to get everyone to share their thoughts.

3. Resource management

We’ve got a bookshelf in our area, where we keep a number of technical manuals. We’ve got a page on our wiki called ReferenceLibrary that lists what’s there, notes who’s borrowed any item at any given time, and provides a place to request new additions to the library.

4. Silliness

Maybe this is covered by Lifehack’s “Water cooler” entry, but I wanted to expand on some of the… shall we say, informal uses for the wiki. At my current workplace, I’ve seen a “Quotes” page where we record embarrassing things that people say, and a “HouseOfHorrors” page where we highlight some of the ugliest houses we find on our company’s website (a real estate search portal). Another favourite is the “WTF” page that mirrors the sorts of discussions seen on The Daily WTF.

5. Keeping an ear to the ground

Tracking the “RecentChanges” page on your wiki can keep you in the loop as to what’s going on in your own team and further afield. I can’t count the number of times I’ve only been aware of something because I’ve noticed it tick by on the changes page.