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A Tale of Two Wikis: Techniques for building, managing and promoting collaborative communities

Author Laurence Parry
Track Projects and Content
License GNU Free Documentation License (details), Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (details)
About the author
Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry caught the wiki bug in 2004, when a friend invited him to co-found the Creatures Wiki. Over the next half-year he led fans from around the world in creating a comprehensive repository of information on the Creatures games and their associated community. Looking for new challenges, he ended up founding WikiFur for the furry fandom in mid-2005, and has been herding cats ever since.

When not editing or researching articles, Laurence works as a software developer for Stardock. Born in 1982 in the UK, he currently resides in Northville, Michigan.

The spread of wiki technology combined with Wikimedia’s restricted goals has led to the creation of separate wikis devoted to diverse communities. Many do not reach their full potential through a lack of focus or leadership; others fail to attract stable contributors due to inadequate policies or promotion. This situation can be improved.

Variations in topic, audience, and technical ability demand differing approaches when building and managing wiki communities. I provide concrete examples from two: Creatures Wiki, based around an artificial life simulation for children; and WikiFur, an encyclopedia for the furry (anthropomorphic) fandom. I show community solutions to issues arising from policy decisions, such as the inclusion of information on community members, and describe approaches to disruption, including legal threats, proxy attacks, and influxes of visitors – and vandals – from popular websites.

I discuss the variable applicability of Wikipedia’s policies, as well as effective methods of online and offline promotion, recruiting, advertising, and monitoring of visitors and contributors. I outline effective uses of featured content on the front pages in driving regular contributions and traffic, and note the importance of personal leadership and delegation. I conclude that a respected community reference site can be created within half a year.

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