Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wikis, surveys, and webwhompers

Continuing on the thread of when have I seen wikis work the best... In my last post I answered that I have seen wikis work quite well when they are tightly controlled. I described the LeaderNetwork wiki, which only allows editing by Claire Reinelt and me.

Another good way of controlling a wiki is not by limiting the number of editors (as in the previous example) but by limiting the contributions asked of each editor.

Used in this way, a wiki is quite similar to an online survey. The wiki begins with a clear list of questions and a well-defined framework to hold each response contributed by each wiki editor --- just like SurveyMonkey. However, a wiki-survey has two important differences:
  1. Transparent sharing of all wiki-survey responses is a given. There is no waiting for the survey administrator to publish anything, no option for the survey administrator to hold anything back.
  2. The questions themselves can be added to and/or edited on the fly by wiki-survey respondents. This frees the survey administrator from having to ask just the right questions; if someone does not see the question they wanted to answer, they can add that question in a place where everyone can respond to it.
One of my favorite wiki-surveys is this one, which I have used to run a contest that recognizes the most popular student project of the semester. It is a simple and effective wiki-survey that leverages option #1 heavily and ignores option #2. I have previously posted two case studies about its use on these pages: "Pros and cons of male enhancement" and "Delete all your links, except to me." I have modified it for use in many client engagements as well, fully leveraging both options #1 and #2.

This fall I significantly upgraded my pseudo-survey technology by abandoning the wiki platform altogether. You can see my post-wiki pseudo-survey at, where the blood from my students' recently fought competition is still fresh.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License and is copyrighted (c) 2008 by Connective Associates LLC except where otherwise noted.

1 comment:

Noah Flower said...

Great suggestion. This sort of openness could be very useful for convenings that rely on informality and openness as a strength.