Synergy in Social Computing

I’ve been known to participate in Microsoft forums for years now. Ed Price was the first one who suggested to me that writing Wikis can be rewarding too, so I gave it a shot. At first, editing and writing Wikis felt totally alien to me, but after trying it, reading more Wikis and following TechNet Wiki Ninjas, I think I have found my groove. I very much like the fact that you can start a Wiki, work on it a little bit, and later come back to make further additions and changes to it. It gives me the chance to correct mistakes, introduce new information, or add new insights. If I’m lucky, somebody else found the topic interesting too and also made contributions.

My favorite technique is when I find a useful discussion in the TechNet forums that I think is too interesting to ignore and promote it to a TechNet Wiki article. I thought that it might be interesting to share my little twelve step algorithm for doing this. I can tell you though, that during the process of repeatedly following this algorithm, I did find there is real synergy to be found in social computing when you start combining forums, blogs, and Wikis.

So, here’s what I do:

  1. I read the TechNet forums and try to see if I can provide some answers, propose others, or mark older proposed answers.

  2. To me, a good forum thread is one where the questioner gets a helpful response or answer. The thread becomes great when the original questioner acknowledges that one or more answers solved their problem. A thread surpasses being great when an expert shares some of the cognitive processes that underlie a certain conclusion, including pros and cons.
    For example, in the following thread somebody is wondering whether to use a SharePoint Asset or Picture library. He gets a response where the expert divulges his musings surrounding the topic. Later on, others jumped in on the discussion and shared their arguments. In a positive way, I might add, because a forum thread can turn sour rapidly which kind of ruins it for me.

  3. Reaching a point where I conclude the thread is too interesting to ignore, I create a new TechNet Wiki article, and paraphrase the contents of the forum thread. The Wiki is an example of that.

  4. At the end of the Wiki page, I add a Credits section pointing to the original forum thread that inspired the Wiki page. I write something like this:
    Credits: This Wiki page was inspired by the discussion at

  5. I then reply to the forum thread, thank the people involved for their interesting insights and let them know I wrote a Wiki article about it. In this case, I wrote:

    “Interesting discussion, worthy of a wiki article:

  6. Following this algorithm has led to a growing number of SharePoint 2010 Best Practice Wiki articles. At one point, I’ve decided to summarize them on a SharePoint 2010 Best Practices overview page: This page is growing rapidly; therefore I’m in the middle of a process where I have to overhaul the whole thing in order for it to remain user friendly.
    So naturally, the next step in the algorithm is to add a new entry to the Overview page, pointing to the new Wiki article.

  7. After that, I also make sure that the new Wiki article contains a link to the Overview page. In this case, I wrote:
    “Please note: Also check out the SharePoint 2010 Best Practice Overview page at

  8. Recently, in the beginning of the lifetime of the Wiki article, I’ve started adding capability for statistics using This way, I can keep track of how well the Wiki is doing, and I can decide whether it’s useful to do further work on it. I don’t do too much, as this becomes unmanageable quickly. Btw, that would be my top feature request for TechNet Wikis, an inbuilt statistics tab.

  9. I have a blog that is fairly popular in the SharePoint world. So, to draw extra traffic to the new Wiki article, I’ll also write a blog post about it. In this case, it was this blog post:

  10. Occasionally, I’ll cross post the blog post or Wiki article somewhere else, to draw even more attention to it. In this case, I did that here:

  11. After some time, I make some further additions to the Wiki article and check if someone else contributed to it.

  12. I keep the Wiki article in the back of my mind, and whenever I’m stumbling on a relevant forum thread, I’ll refer to the Wiki article.