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Wiki bankruptcy

An appropriately annoying strategy for dealing with wiki rot at a company.

Update: this generated a pretty good Hacker News discussion.

Does your company have a wiki? If you had to guess, what percentage of that wiki would you say is:

  • Up to date
  • Still relevant
  • Viewed at least once per year by someone

I’m going to take a wild guess that your answer is somewhere below 25%. If so, you’re saying that over 75% of your company’s wiki is either irrelevant, unused, or downright incorrect. In other words, the vast majority of your company’s wiki is at best not useful, and is at worst actively harmful if it’s giving people incorrect information.

This is called Wiki Rot. It’s spreading in companies worldwide, and it must be stopped.

What if you had to start over? What if, once a year, everything in your company’s wiki was deleted? Call it Wiki Bankruptcy. Here’s how it could go down:

  1. Tell everyone at your company that in 2 weeks, all wiki contents will be deleted. Let everyone take those 2 weeks to copy/back up/download any pages they want to keep.
  2. After those 2 weeks end, you back up and delete everything in the wiki.
  3. Tell everyone that they can now resume creating wiki pages, and are free to recreate the pages they thought were important.
  4. For all of the people who realize they need stuff that they didn’t think about copying in step 1, allow them to access it from your back up from step 2. But do not allow linking directly to pages in that back up, or else you run the risk of people just continuing to read the backed up wiki pages.
  5. Repeat after 1 year.

Yes, it’s a huge pain, and there will be a couple weeks where everyone is grumpy about it. But Wiki Bankruptcy is the price we must pay to kill Wiki Rot. Wiki Bankruptcy ensures that the vast majority of your wiki will be up to date and relevant, and it’s a sure-fire way to clear out all the cruft nobody is ever looking at anymore.

Now, let’s hear all the reasons why you hate it. Tweet me about it!