Thursday, May 17, 2007

A semi-wiki documentation trial

I consider myself as "highly pro-wiki, yet the worst salesperson I could think of". I believe wiki is fantastic, yet I fails to pass the argument that an SME * who already reviews a document would benefit from a Wiki platform more that form the MS-Word track changes features that is currently in use.
For several years, I look at such posts with a great envy. Trust, tolerance and confidence are important, of course, but something else is missing. I can't get people to write into a wiki and I can't think of the reason why.
Last week I was asked to write a 2-3 paper one some new feature. It's a command-line operated tool, not very intuitive for me, so I asked R&D for some extra help here. I stored the document on a public domain and send them the link with a general comment that says "please read and comment, thanks".
They were great. Within a day, three developers has commented, raising new questions, answering some other questions, extending the document a little because the feature has evolved, etc.
Of course, I had to go over the text, move some from the comment boxes into the document itself, accept and reject changes, etc. But, the document was extensively written by developers who were happy - and agile - to contribute.
Now, our major documentation set is hundreds of pages long (to each direction :-), so I believe we;ll take it one step at a time.

* This is the guy over the cubicle who is not a tech writer.


I have added myself to this directory.
Thank you, Anne Gentle of BMC, for telling about it.
Anne's latest posts deal with using Wiki for documentation, a topic I will extensively write about.