Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales discusses
what it takes for effective groups to work, why speed is a
big deal and more.
1) You need mechanisms in place
for effective collaboration. Certainly, people can
post bad things onto a wiki, a message board, or a mailing
list. The real question is, What systems are in place to
deal with this? The mechanisms of a wiki have proven highly
effective and have to do with the ability of the community
to revise the content or revert to a prior state, and the
ability to block communication by people who are causing
2) Online identity is important. But
requiring people to use real names online seems to be a
solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. When people
decide to interact anonymously with no stable identity, then
bad behavior is the usual result. The safeguard mechanisms
mentioned above can address such a situation. Meanwhile,
contributors who use a steady pseudonym can and do gain
reputation capital in a way that establishes credibility just
as a real name would offline.
3) A successful collaboration requires a shared
vision. A good example of this is a successful wiki
called wowwiki.com , a wiki about the online
computer game World of Warcraft. There, participants work
together successfully because they have a shared vision of
the kind of work they are trying to complete: a
comprehensive guide to all things World of Warcraft. We see
the same pattern over and over: A charitable goal like that
of Wikipedia is not necessary. Neutrality is not necessary.
But a shared vision is.
New Tool Exposes Self-Edits in Wikipedia
4) Organizations are becoming flatter. Flat
hierarchies are incredibly powerful and, due to technologies
like wikis that allow peer-to-peer communication without a lot
of barriers, flat hierarchies are taking hold across the
business world. Maybe some people are hesitant, but there is an
overwhelming adoption of collaborative technologies going on
right now. If old-fashioned CIOs are not seeing this, they
should be replaced.
5) Speed is incredibly important. A fast
and flexible system will always beat a paranoid system that
wants to get everything right before publication.