I finally got an answer to our major problem with wikis in Sharepoint. It is bad news.
One of the advantages to using a platform approach is the integration of the various pieces in one place, with a unified look and searching. We have been using Sharepoint as the platform for our intranet for many years, starting when Sharepoint was just “Sharepoint” then onto Sharepoint 2003 and as of April 1, Sharepoint 2007.
It was the feature set of Sharepoint 2007 that got me interested in blogging and enterprise 2.0.
We have been experiencing problems with the notification feature for wikis in Sharepoint. When there is a change to a wiki page, it sends out the whole wiki page with no indication of the changes. It is very frustrating to have a whole document, that you have already read, being sent to you with no indication of changes. That is why track changes in Word and document comparison software exists.
The wiki is creating a new version each time it is saved. The changes are there in the wiki to be discovered and presumably to be transmitted. Sending out a notification of the change is core wiki functionality. Isn’t it?
I cornered Lawrence Liu at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference to find out what we were doing wrong. I was stunned to find out the problem was not us. It was them. The Sharepoint wiki will not send out the changes. It merely sends out the entire wiki page.
This is a disaster. It removes the communications aspect of the wiki. It makes it hard to see the activity in the wiki. I see something is happening, but I have to go into the wiki, click on the history and go through each version to see the changes.
As I have posted before, it is important to have both the artifact and the flow of knowledge: Knowledge is an Artifact and a Flow. Sharepoint’s design of wikis destroys the flow.
Everyone knows that the Sharepoint wikis are basic. I have been willing to live with the simplicity. It makes them easier to understand and easier to show people how to work with them. After all, training is just another barrier to adoption.
Thanks to Lawrence for giving me a straight answer to my question. Even if the answer was terrible. Lawrence Liu can be found on his blog: Lawrence Liu’s Report from the Inside
and on Twitter: Twitter/LLiu.