University of Canberra/RCC2011/What key facilitation capacities help create successful wikis?

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Outcome - We can come up with a list of key facilitation capacities, tell some success stories and look at common themes for good facilitation. We could also define what is a successful wiki? Put outcome on RCC Canberra wiki and all can use it and develop it further

What Principles should we use for this conversation?

  • Create opportunity for everyone to contribute
  • Our diversity is captured in some ways
  • Be aware of when we stray from central topic/keep focused on the goal
  • Use the 3 Open Space principles - who ever comes is the right people, whenever it starts and finishes is the right time, whatever happens is the only thing that could of happened
  • step away if you become too emotionally charged (one strategy that we explored a bit more - see below)

How are we dealing when emotions come up?

  • Wikipedia experience - sometimes is best to walk away.
  • If someone gets emotional, let's put ourselves in their shoes.
  • Give feedback to the frustrated person.
  • Get very specific about the difference. Help people unpack their thinking.

Hot areas in wikipedia: When you visit the article, you can smell that the editor is emotional. Step away if you become too emotionally charged vs let's engage with it

Facilitator: Role of a guardian. Also as a supporter /gardener/nurturer of editors

Challenges: - dealing with how to keep a volunteer in as an editor - just because they are acting obnoxiously doesn't mean that they are not working in good faith

Bring out contentious ideas knowledge levels are different

What key facilitation capacities help create successful wikis?

  • awareness of emotional content
  • read between the lines of online text
  • don't trust your own judgement - check or test your assumptions
  • assume good faith and treat people consistently as if they are not evil
  • identify when people get labelled or excluded from the system
  • acknowledge people who want to belong to the system
  • respect everyone
  • turn articles for deletion into a good faith process
  • allow things to happen and let the community manage it

One key facilitation capacity from each participant (to get diversity)

  • harnessing/being comfortable with conflict
  • staying focused on the dynamics
  • try to read between lines (get the smell)
  • ok to be wrong. Wrong doesn't mean not respected.
  • understand the drivers of the people in dispute
  • be completely neutral in my own opinions (is this possible?)
  • Can I remove my own emotional input?
  • listening to all perspectives
  • read between the lines, carefully read between the lines (be instinctive but not react subjectively, react objectively)
  • calmness, distance, pathos - empathy
  • explain the reasoning behind my thinking and support others to do the same
  • laser focus on understanding the difference
  • democratic community ownership
  • avoid making decisions unilaterally
  • understand the cultural norms

Successful Examples: Wikihow has a positive culture

  • conscious effort to build a friendly community
  • less academic
  • fair bit of tolerance
  • good open leadership, encouraging others to be good leaders


  • is a successful wiki
  • vastly different opinions creating high quality output
  • Finely tuned dispute resolution process works really well, but a lot of people don't last long enough to go through the process
  1. bring in third opinion
  2. further backup plans
  3. informal mediation
  4. formal mediation
  5. than the committee

Other points: Incentive Conservapedia - working in the right place

Most valuable insights from this conversation

  • good hearing diverse opinions
  • hero's story in mythology: wrestling with the troll is worth it
  • this conversation encourages the isolated editor
  • open leadership is key
  • good to be reminded of things I should be doing
  • importance of context
  • good to hear from all our experience
  • great to hear and celebrate how amazing people are

Next steps/directions

  • understand how to create successful wikis should be a default
  • what happens long term especially to small wikis? Do they get archived?
  • use more language of open leadership every day

What is a successful wiki?

See also[edit | edit source]