Wiki Life: Why create a TechNet Wiki article when you can just link to a forum thread?

Welcome to Wednesday Wiki Life!

So why should you create a TechNet Wiki article when you can just link to an existing forum thread?

This blog post is part of the Social Synergy series.


Well, I think the need for a Wiki really hit me a few years back when I was searching for a solution to get my software installed. The clock was ticking, and I needed to get it done for my job. So I searched everywhere. I talked to every expert I could find. I found nothing. And then finally, when I almost gave up hope, I landed on a forum thread that was about something else. It was the same software, but they were troubleshooting some other issue. It was a long thread with 90 or posts on it. Well it came up from my keyword searches in Bing. But I thought, that's strange. This isn't the right topic. So I ran an IE search on the keywords I was looking for on that long page, and it popped me down to a few posts. I read the posts, re-read them, and slowly pieced together the context and what was being asked and answered. Then, once I figured it all out, I tried the solution, and that was it!

I found the solution! I installed my software! Finally!

So what happened was that somewhere in this long conversation where 20 or so people were troubleshooting one scenario, another person popped in. He asked his question out of context. And then, instead of splitting that off to a new thread or asking him to post it as a new thread, someone randomly knew the answer and started a conversation toward answering it. And then the conversation went on and on about the original topic, with a few posts about the new topic randomly interspersed. So I went in there and had to figure out what was going on and if the solution I was looking at was part of troubleshooting the problem that the thread was about or part of answering the question that I had.

And then the rest of the solution I was looking for was pieced together randomly in a few other posts, where two conversations were going on at the same time.

Could this have been easier to find if it was in its own forum thread? Sure.

But here's my point...

You are spending your time writing up some fantastic solutions. They are great answers that a lot of people need. But how many people are going to find and understand the solution when it's in the forum's context? Not enough. Especially since you didn't write the title of the thread... the original poster did. So what if the title doesn't get your solution the best SEO that it deserves? (Which is 99% of the cases.) The result is that people can't find your awesome solutions!

Think about the design of the forum concept. It exists to answer one person's question. It is based on a discussion system to get the one best answer to the one person asking the one question. That's what Forums are designed for!  The solutions are a conversation. Each new reader has to read your conversation, try to figure out the context, and then see which solution applies to them. And they often have done a lot of searching before they ever land on that page. The forums aren't designed to help new readers! They are designed to help the person who is asking the question! Something else has been optimized for new readers, and it happens to be in a collaborative authoring system... TechNet Wiki!!!

Now here is what you'd do to create a Wiki article:

  1. You write up a fantastic solution in the forums.
  2. You copy and paste the problem statement into a new Wiki article; you tweak it.
  3. Then you copy and paste your solutions. You add a little more explanations.
  4. You make the title awesome so that it gets great SEO.
  5. Then you publish it and let the community help you keep it up to date (and maybe help fix any of your typos).

What you just did:

  1. You made it so that far more people with the problem will actually read your solutions and benefit from them.
    1. This will also get more cross-links than the forum thread would. So more people will find it by clicking AND searching!
  2. Not only can your readers find and understand the solution faster, but they can also get access to other related information a lot more easily through cross-linking, search, and tags on TechNet Wiki than they would be able to in the forums.
  3. You just helped your career. That's right. You might have just opened doors to a new future job. Examples:
    1. Get a Job: How does TechNet Wiki help you find a Job and make your career?
    2. Get Notoriety in your Career: Community Win–Wiki Accelerates Quality Content Distribution
  4. You are opening up more opportunities to earn Recognition Points and Achievement Medals to further build your credibility. (As your credibility grows, people know you have quality solutions, because you've proven it.)
    1. Just to let you know, the Recognition Points on the Wiki don't work like the Forums. The Forums are immediate but low scoring, because they don't accumulate with views. But the Wiki is a gradual snowball. Once the snowball is rolling, you can earn more points than you would have from your forum contributions.
    2. At first thought, this might seem like a selfish motivation. However, you're building your credibility so people are more likely to read your stuff and get the solution implemented sooner. Also, if you're on a path for MVP, Moderator, or a leading Wiki Ninja, this will help get you there faster so that you can have an impact on your future products and have a bigger impact in helping the technical community in earning responsibilities and getting results!


And there you go. You can link to a Wiki article instead of answering the question over again. And you know that the reader will just land on that page and quickly get their answer (not like a forum thread).... because that's the way you designed the page!!!

And to top all of that... we even have a fun contest for transforming your forum posts into Wiki articles! See TechNet Guru Contributions.


Any questions or comments on this topic? I can add more info or correct it, depending on what you think.



   - Ninja Ed