BrontoPedia and Wikis in the Workplace

Last month we launched our own wiki called BrontoPedia. BrontoPedia was setup to replace our intranet and be an internal resource for all things Bronto. It contains everything from our corporate policies to product roadmaps. Very quickly, it has become an essential source of information for folks in Bronto and ia replacing the random assortment of Word documents sitting in email boxes or hidden on our intranet.
Why is this interesting? Well, it’s a great example of where a consumer web application has made in-roads into the business web. This trend, of course, has not gone unnoticed by the Internet titans and further explains why Google acquired the wiki startup Jotspot last September

Like any new software implementation, you have to get people using the software to make it truly valuable. Here are four things we have done to inspire usage:

  1. Had a contest: We jump started activity on the wiki with a “Pimp My Page” contest for everyone in the company. The contest included real prizes for the best and worst participants. It was good fun and got everyone educated and active on the wiki.
  2. Made it dynamic: A death spiral can happen with a Intranet between frequency and usage. People don’t use the Intranet if it’s not frequently update. The Intranet is not frequently updated if people don’t use it. To avoid this, we added several dynamics widgets to the wiki to keep it continually fresh and interesting – e.g., Google Calendar, Flickr pictures, and RSS feeds tied to tags, our blog and Google News searches. These widgets have been a great way to keep the pages fresh and get people using the wiki.
  3. Moved content: We are aggressively moving Word documents off our file server and onto the wiki. So, the wiki becomes more and more the only place to read and edit documents.
  4. Branded it well: Brontopedia is a catchy and appealing name – or something else equally dull is not. Branding matters and helps increase uptake.

Of course, we weren’t the first ones to think of this. Intelpedia is a fairly well known internal wiki for Intel. We also got some good ideas from a good blog post on the subject by Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School. He describes some of the interesting ways that Avenue A | Razorfish has applied their wiki.

Drop me note if you know of any other good wikis in the workplace. We are always looking for good ideas on how to improve ours.

  • If this were a wiki, I would edit it to say:
    “The contest included real prizes for the best and worst participants.”
    …or perhaps something equally obnoxious like:
    Good catch. I think that I need a tag cloud too.

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