Wiki Life: Should I use the Gallery or TechNet Wiki?
Welcome to Wiki Life Wednesday!
Gallery + TechNet Wiki = Community Synergy
Regular conversations come up about which social tool we should use. Should we use a Blog, Forum, Gallery, or Wiki?
TechNet Gallery is a place where you can upload files for Code and for Whitepapers (Word files, PDFs, etc.). You can share these files with the community. And if your code is very lightweight, it can just be a code snippet where users click the copy button and no file downloads are needed. (Similarly, the MSDN code Samples Gallery and Expressions Gallery have the same features for developers and designers, and they both feed into the same Gallery Recognition Points and Achievement Medals in your Microsoft Profile... keep reading for more information about Recognition Points and Achievement Medals.)
In TechNet Gallery, you can include downloads (code files or white papers), give a description, include snippets with a handy copy button, list the platforms you've tested your code with, and facilitate Q&A conversations (forum style) to answer community questions, to see what platforms they've tested it with, and to gather any bugs or feature requests. TechNet Wiki has some similarities... you can turn your white paper into an article (or a series of articles), you can include your code sample as an article, you have comments, community edits, etc. What are the key differences? Gallery is based around the download feature, and Wiki is based around community collaboration on the content. The Gallery is likely a desert to search engines (they won't include what's in your files).
And so this comparison might drive us to think or speak the language of... Gallery VS Wiki.
Which one should we use for what specific content? If they were in a ring together, who would win?
What if one was a ninja?
Here's another way to look at it. Instead of Gallery and Wiki putting their boxing gloves up, let's have them hold hands. Picture with me Gallery and Wiki. They are friends. Wiki is the newer kid to school. They know each other fairly well. They have similarities, but they're also different and unique. Gallery is very logical (a blue personality), and Wiki is very social (a green personality). You can see them coming up over a hilltop together. Are they fighting each other? Nope. They're holding hands and skipping, but they occasionally stop to pick daisies together.
Now picture Gallery and Wiki sharing ice cream:
Okay, now come back to reality with me. What do you think? Was that weird? Sure, but now it's stuck in your head!
Gallery and Wiki are friends, not enemies.
Like all friends, they know how to work together toward common goals.
What can TechNet Wiki offer in its friendship to the Gallery?
Most Gallery descriptions don't get updated as often as they could (and you can check the comments to prove it).
However, with TechNet Wiki, the community can make those edits rather than just complaining about them or trying to get the author to respond (but the authors don't respond more often than they do). Rather than just leave comments, the community can edit a Wiki article about the code/script snippet.
Another advantage of the Wiki is that you get to determine navigation (which also helps the search engine optimization). That means you get to go to the portals (or the community will) and add the right links so that people can find your article by contextual navigation (and not just by search).
You can also use the Wiki to break up a long white paper into individual pages. They're easy to navigate, edit, and comment on that way. A reader is not leaving a comment about paragraph 2 of page 24. So the community interactions are much more contextual (about each specific Wiki page). Here are some examples of articles that might have been thought of as longer white papers, but they became a series of Wiki articles:
- Private Cloud
- Forum Moderation Guide
- Microsoft Root Certificate Program (see tag list)
- Lync Server Planning Guide (work in progress)
What can TechNet Wiki and Gallery do together?
In this case, synergy means that sometimes you don't have to choose.
1. White Papers
You can post the full doc file as a white paper on the TechNet Gallery, Expressions Gallery, MSDN gallery, CodePlex, or Download Center. And then you can link to it from the Wiki page (that way folks can download a printable white paper or something they can read/share offline). We've had success on TechNet Wiki (good page views and community interaction) with white papers being broken into multiple Wiki subarticles, which act as sections in a larger topic.
Examples of whitepapers on TechNet Gallery:
- Explaining the GetClusterCharacteristics Stored Procedure for Sequence Clustering Models (on TechNet Gallery, on TechNet Wiki)
- Explaining the State Transitions Viewer for Sequence Clustering (on TechNet Gallery, on TechNet Wiki)
- Configuring the Content Type Hub - SharePoint Server 2010
- Document ID Service - SharePoint Server 2010
- Jetstress Field Guide
Then, as the author, you link to the downloadable whitepaper file at the top of your main article page and everyone's happy. This is done for several reasons:
- To easily print it
- To see the original version
- To read it offline
- To customize it for personal use
- To share an offline copy
2. Code Companions
You can also synergize with code on the Gallery. You can include a short description on the Gallery and a link to the Wiki article for the community to add information, like...
- What OS platforms the community has tested it on (and whether it was successful)
- A list of Known Issues
- A list of Feature Requests
- A list of technologies, tools, or code snippets to use in conjunction with this the submission
- Links to similar code snippets or tools
You'll need to create the Wiki article separately and then have each link to the other.
Here are examples of Wiki articles that explain (expand on and link to) a Code Gallery/Sample page:
- Blackboard Design Pattern: A Practical Example - Radar Defense System
- Wiki: Fix Color Issues in Wiki Articles
- SharePoint 2013: Install Prerequisites Offline or Manually on Windows Server 2012 - A Comprehensive Guide
- SharePoint 2010 and 2013 Browser File Handling Deep Dive
You can find all our articles that build off of Gallery contributions by using this "has Gallery download" tag.
Currently, the Gallery community folks might complain in the Gallery Q&A comments about a script or might try to get the Author to make those changes (more often than not, the author never responds). By using TechNet Wiki, you can let the community build and maintain content around your code.
And what happens when your content is in both the Gallery and in TechNet Wiki? Well, you're now reaching two different communities and bringing them together. That's fantastic! Not only are you likely getting more attention on your code or white paper, but you're also making a step toward a big community impact!!!
Now, let's get back to Recognition Points and Achievement Medals. When folks rate your Gallery submission, you earn Recognition Points (rating of 3 or greater). When folks download your Gallery submission, you're earning views toward Recognition Point milestones (you get points at each milestone). Plus with your comments, questions, ratings, and how much people download your submissions, all those activities become marks toward Achievement Medals. Learn more about Recognition Points and Achievement Medlas here.
Likewise, on TechNet Wiki, your Edits and Articles you write can achieve view milestones, which earn you Recognition Points (in the same Profile system). And your comments, edit comments/descriptions, article edits, and new articles all count toward additional Achievement Medals for your Profile. You can show the community what your impact is!
So by using Gallery and Wiki together, you could potentially wind up with twice the Recognition Points and Achievement Medals by synergizing your efforts! (Although most people have a primary social platform that they lean more toward.)
But, wait, there's a third type of synergy...
3. File Attachments
Sometimes when you write an article, you might simply want to attach a file. Wiki doesn't support that, because TechNet Gallery makes it even better.
For example, you can upload a zipped file of images, a program you refer to, or a PowerPoint presentation that describes content from a class or session. You can even embed a YouTube video on the Wiki page, upload a copy of the video to the TechNet Gallery, and then link to the Gallery item from the Wiki article (so that people can download an offline version of the video). You have a lot of options!
Here are some examples of Wiki articles that include links to Gallery downloads to act as file attachments:
- Wiki Ninja Stick Figures (zipped image collections)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.1: Graphics Window (2 PowerPoint downloads)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.2: Turtle Graphics (PowerPoint download)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.3: Exploring Shapes (PowerPoint download)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.4: Sound, Program, and Text Objects (PowerPoint download)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.5: Clock, Desktop, and Dictionary Objects (PowerPoint download)
- Small Basic Curriculum: Lesson 2.6: Flickr, ImageList, and Network Objects (PowerPoint download)
- Wiki: Fix Color Issues in Wiki Articles (code solution)
Basically this is a better alternative than linking to a MediaFire, SkyDrive, or otherwise uploaded item somewhere on the Internet. Often times those sites will time out (the downloads don't stay there forever), or there are weird permission issues. On TechNet Gallery, you don't have to worry about either of those problems. And you get the following benefits over using a third-party file share and over what a Wiki file attachment feature would get you...
(1) Your Gallery items might end up with more links to them (since they explain themselves as their own page). (2) They earn you additional recognition and achievements. (3) You open yourself up to networking in an additional venue. (4) Plus people can directly ask you questions about your items. (5) You can track new versions better from the one download page. (6) And you can list any system or software version requirements (there's a form for that built in already).
So rather than say "Gallery VS Wiki", I say...
"Gallery + Wiki = Community Synergy!!!"
Let's go find some Community Synergy together!
And please leave a comment (with URL) if you find more examples of multi-page articles on TechNet Wiki or whitepapers on TechNet Gallery.
When using the Gallery to synergize with TechNet Wiki, please use this "has Gallery download" tag.