Considering the variety of products that exist on the collaboration marketplace nowadays, somebody looking for a knowledge sharing solution may feel overwhelmed. Or have a hard time distinguishing between the various types of products.
To make it easier for people to understand what Quandora, our Question & Answer product, brings to knowledge sharing compared to other tools, we decided to start a new blog post series: How is Quandora different from…
Episode 3: Wikis
Wikis are web applications that allow individuals to create content in a collaborative system. They can serve both public and private communities, but the wiki software that we’re interested about in this article is the one that companies use as a knowledge management tool.
There are two main difficulties that make wikis a bit counterproductive when it comes to use them as a knowledge sharing engine: format and topicality.
Not all companies write explicit guidelines about how wikis should be organized. And most users have their own style of creating and adding information – some use chapters, some use bullets, some rather create a series of wikis for each subtopic. That’s why wikis become quite difficult to standardize and to discipline.
Because everyone can create, edit and save the information in a wiki, at some point, its content becomes bulky, scratchy and difficult to scan. So finding an answer to a specific problem is unlikely and challenging. Its long, descriptive format doesn’t help either. Wikis are mostly used for general descriptions, not for practical cases. That’s when searching for a situation that is not documented, that only shows up in specific conditions, that wiki’s content becomes futile.
Most users start using wikis with best intentions. You’d have to be completely disengaged not to see the benefits of creating topics orientated content that everyone has access to. This is especially useful for projects, when people with different expertise and from different departments have to be informed about the implementation plans and general workflow procedures.
But there are two drawbacks to it:
- Dificult to keep documentations up to date. And in order to be useful, it has to be updated, or else it won’t reflect the reality and people will lose interest in it. Once the project evolves, everyone gets more involved in implementing the project and forget to go back and bring the wiki up to date.
- People or teams turnovers. Picking up where someone else left is a challenge. Especially for the aforesaid reasons related to everyone having their own organizing wikis style. This drives to inconsistent structure and duplicated content.
Comparison with Quandora
We pointed out why wikis are not appropriate for documentation that’s constantly evolving – living, dynamic documents. So let’s see what does Quandora do differently.
- Its Q&A format responds to specific needs, facilitating the access to fast evolving, applicable knowledge. It relieves people from looking the needle in a haystack situation, serving specific cases.
- Easily updatable. It’s precisely the simplicity of asking questions and offering answers configuration that supports and stimulates up-to-the-minute knowledge capitalization. If the question is already there, you only need to update the answer if needed. If it’s not, adding a new question is all there is to do.
Having a specific format, users behavior mold on it and not the other way around – thus, not even new employees will feel confused when searching for information that others wrote or find it difficult to browse for particular information.
Concluding, wikis are not practical when used as a knowledge sharing solution because of its long and descriptive format, its low scanability and its lack of including particular, unforeseen situations. And they ask for high maintenance actions in order to overcome to some extent these obstacles.
Happy Knowledge Sharing!