Wiki: we have too many Wikis…

About eight years ago I implemented an intranet for a medium sized fund manager, and at that time we rolled the code ourselves to produce a pretty basic news, documents and pages site with a solid search function that most users were happy with. Not many people had experience of creating their own content, and a quick demo of whatever dreadful version of Sharepoint was around then soon put them off a “full feature” solution.

Now, every other person is on Facebook, Twitter and so on, and a significant number produce their own content in the form of blogs or personal sites. In that environment it’s difficult to implement a one-size-fits-all standard across teams even within a department, let alone across a very diverse organisation.

My current employer has an altogether different approach to team intranet sites and document storage which is surprisingly laissez-faire for a big organisation. There isn’t much standardisation and even the guidelines are pretty slim. However, what this means in practice is that in a team of thirty we have five team site/storage approaches all running in parallel that I’m aware of:

Of these only TWiki is officially deprecated, and even so there doesn’t seem to be any sort of deadline for migration.

I’ve used the latter three to varying degrees and can’t honestly say any of them is a hands-down winner. Jive is probably the easiest to use all round but its focus on socialising everything gets on my nerves at times and I’m not convinced scoring me on putting data into the system is anything other than a sales and retention tool for the software house. Sharepoint is often slated for being Microsoft centric and so on, but it does actually work pretty well and is much more integrated in the newer versions. Confluence as a pure Wiki is pretty good, but things have moved beyond that and people expect an integrated solution which it isn’t.

Unfortunately nowhere can I find a convincing tool to migrate between these options, and in a big organisation with a matrix approach to budgeting it’s impossible to close a knowledge system down if the migration can’t be automated at a sensible cost. This seems to be a definte area for a product – something that will export one or more knowledge systems into some centralised format and then import the data into the target(s).

Eight years ago it was viewed as an opportunity to have a clear out, and content was transferred manually. I wonder what my colleagues would think about doing that with several gigabytes and hundreds of documents…

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