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Association 2.0 webinar Q&A: Are wikis the best forum for collaboration?

A lot of great questions were raised during the Q&A session of our recent Association 2.0 webinar. We were able to get to many of them, and we had some interesting discussions. But there's much more to talk about than what we could possibly fit into the limited time we had for Q&A.

Luckily we have a blog to help us out. :) We've gathered all the questions that were raised, including those that were addressed and those that we couldn't get to.

Our Inmagic team has being mulling them over. We've assembled our thoughts, along with the answers that our guests -- Peter Hutchins from ASAE, and Chris Larsen and Corrina Mason from HRPA -- had given during the webinar. And what we've created is a collection of 12 questions about Association 2.0 with in-depth responses.

We'll be rolling out each question and answer over the coming days and weeks on our blog. Our hope is to provide you with a deeper dive into each question with a well-rounded response with a variety of industry perspectives.

We bring you our first question and answer today. You can follow our Q&A roll-out, as well as other Association 2.0 discussion by bookmarking our Association 2.0 tag.

Are wikis the best forum for collaboration? If so, do you still need Facebook and Twitter? How much time is needed to develop and implement a corporate wiki or collaborative site?

ASAE says ...

I don't believe that there's any one tool that suits everyone's needs, and I don't believe there's any one tool that's perfect. For example, Facebook has an interesting story simply because of its widespread use. The statistics are staggering. The average user spends more than an hour and a half on Facebook per day.

In the context of what we do, being present on Facebook is important for gaining mindshare from our members. And it's not about competing against the wiki, it's about incorporating ASAE into a more constant role within the life of our members. If they're willing to spend 50 minutes a day connecting with people talking about the association community, we want to be part of that.

However, just because you're using a wiki, doesn't mean you don't need to be using Facebook or LinkedIn. There are just different people who like to connect in different ways.

We spend a lot of time talking about the 1.9.90 rule, which is out of every 100 people, there's one person who's willing to create wiki entries, add, and update content. There's going to be nine people that are willing to rate and review it, and the rest are going to be merely lurkers who want to see what's available.

That's more of a reflection on general society than any one industry specifically. The bottom line is that we just have to be engaged with tools where a large percentage of our members are talking.

Inmagic says ...

Collaboration is a big area, and I don't think you can look at a single technology (wikis, forums, content ranking) to solve a widespread challenge. My suggestion is to first identify areas for improvement, and then look for an appropriate solution.

For example, I may want to improve the ability to locate and ask questions of subject matter experts within my organization. Or I may want to enhance the creation of new product ideas.

In general, wikis promote a specific kind of collaboration. Broadly speaking, information sharing of known items. Wikis are not especially useful for discussing issues and/or asking questions of the community.

And wiki's don't work very well for information that is controversial, as the pages are edited and re-edited to reflect the opposing views, rather than promoting a conversation and then gaining consensus. In addition, wiki's do not accommodate fielded information well, so if the information you wish to publish is fielded, then a wiki might not be appropriate.

Regarding Facebook and Twitter, both are interesting social networking tools, and serve a specific role. However, when building a content-driven, collaborative community, they are not very useful for managing and storing content. Therefore, their key role is often to make more people aware of the content community that you have built.

Looking at a range of socially enabled tools will help build collaborative environments. Blogs are good for certain types of collaboration, discussion forums for others, wikis for yet others. Each has its place.

One of today's dominant needs is to move discussions out of e-mail and into a technology that distributes and preserves knowledge generation for others in the organization. Typically e-mail is a one-to-one communication that is not preserved for sharing.

In sum: The bottom line is to be engaged with a number of tools where a large percentage of your community is talking.

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