Wikis are the abandoned child of social media. They aren’t considered to be as cool, or as useful, as other social media platforms. Wikis are collaborative websites that anyone who has access to website can edit. Essentially a wiki is a place to build a collective information bank. Traveling Geeks and Ourmedia are examples of wikis.
In the past couple of years, businesses like CustomerVision, Traction, and Socialtext are starting to create business-friendly wikis. Even Fortune 1000 companies like Xerox, Disney, and Microsoft are even starting to use wikis. A list of enterprise wikis’ features can be found on Wikipedia.
Intelpedia is one of the earliest enterprise wiki success stories. This wiki was started by Intel engineer Josh Bancroft in 2005. Bancroft felt that his co-workers needed to have an easy and convenient way to access company information, from historical background to internal projects.
Like most successful projects, this one started from the bottom and quickly became popular within Intel. By April 2008, Intelapedia had around 25,000 pages and had 100 million page views. Each day, there are around 500 changes made to the wiki. More than 8,700 Intel employees have contributed to the wiki.
According to Bancroft, there haven’t been any reported instances of unwanted edits, vandalization, or spamming in the four years the wiki has been running. Other companies noticed similar findings. The lack of vandalization or unauthorized edits should allay any fears a corporate executive may have.
What about the corporations needing to protect sensitive and trade information? The majority of sensitive information needs to be controlled out of necessity. Only information that is not detrimental to the company gets posted to the wiki.
Ken Kaplan, who works in corporate communications for the company, has yet to see an example of sensitive information getting shared outside of the company.
From its inception, a lot of people who have been talking about what should be on the wiki. Circuit, Intel’s internal online newsletter, covered Intelpedia. The coverage brought a lot of users which caused Bancroft and some of his fellow employees to form a volunteer team, called the Intelpedia Distributed Editors, to guide the wiki by using a mailing list, selecting content contributions made, and a weekly meeting. The wiki has not needed and funding from Intel and probably won’t ever need it.
How Do Intel Employees Make Use of the Wiki?
Intelpedia doesn’t just have to serve a business purpose. Wikis are also a good place to share knowledge. However, there are better ways to communicate like instant messaging, email, blogs, and forums. Intelpedia is a more conducive platform for short-term collaborative events.
One of the Intelpedia wikis’ most popular pages is about industry and company acronyms. Another page is for employees to provide guidance to Firefox, something Intel’s IT department does not support. It didn’t take long for Intel’s employees to move past the idea that Intelpedia is only for encyclopedia-type articles. Intelpedia now has a ton of information on various subjects like the Classic Car Collectors’ Club and ideas for neighborhood pickup football games. Recently, employees have been sharing their Twitter handles on Intelpedia.
Intelpedia was built using MediaWiki, an open-source wiki software. This same software powers Wikipedia. According to Intelpedia’s creator, it’s a powerful and easy to use the platform. Despite being a global company, the Intelpedia wiki pages are entirely in English. The act that the pages are all in English should not be surprising considering that’s common for most corporate communications. Last year, a widget was installed that allows people to upload videos.
Josh deserves praise for helping to create a platform that fosters information sharing and collaboration between departments and across the company.