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We are currently running a mediawiki for our developers, and most developers are not adding entries if they find something to document. Instead they mail it to a list containing all developers, and most often I add the entries.

I just thought adding something like score, achievements, badges or similar could add motivation, but I cannot find a extension for media wiki.

Is there such an extension? Is one of these recommended?

Funny fact: Currently I think the StackExchange system would fit much better but we need it internally ;)


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I'm all for fun types of motivation, but have you tried getting their boss to say "do it or you're fired" ? – Steve Evers May 13 '11 at 13:43
This rarely leads to productive behaviour and everyone is of course introduced to collaborate. – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 13:46
Why was this migrated from StackOverflow if I was primarly searching for MediaWiki extensions which might handle something like achievements do in games or the badges do on stackexchange? – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 13:47
From years of working in big corporate IT shops, I can tell you that its pretty difficult to get anyone(including developers) to do anything they don't want. You can threaten to fire them, but then you have people forced into something they don't want to do. What kind of quality are you going to get then? – msvb60 May 13 '11 at 14:09
@SnOrfus: Be careful what you ask for, if you're a manager. Your developers are like genies in the stories, and if you make a bad wish you will have to live with the consequences. If you order a developer "do X or you're fired", you will get X if it's possible. Whether X, as implemented by a resentful developer, will do any good whatsoever, is another questions entirely. – David Thornley May 13 '11 at 15:38

4 Answers 4

You might want to ask around about why they don't use it. And you might need to probe beyond the surface, non-thinking, "because I didn't think of it" answer.

For example - I've been in situations where I used email instead of an internal wiki because:

  • The wiki was really hard to use, and too time consuming to maintain - especially in terms of cross linking and organizing information.

    • Possible fix - depends on how in control the team is of the wiki software. For example, in a massive corporate environment, it's not particularly easy to customize something like Sharepoint... but in a small team it may be able to tweak the GUI so that it fits the team's style better. Also, a big part of this is cross linking - the easier it is to search and cross link topics, the more enticing, since it trumps the painful searching of email.
  • I honestly believed the information had a short lifespan

    • IMO this is a reason to not use the Wiki. If it's a short term thing, it doesn't need to be archived the way most wiki material is archived. If there's a status that is changing, but always in existence (for example a server tha is either up or down) then may be it can have a dynamic web page attached to the wiki, but that's not exactly wiki content, either.
  • I honestly felt that everyone needed to see it, and I was worried that "hiding" it in the wiki would mean that it was only available if actively researched, rather than passively received.

    • This is sometimes mitigated by poking people to paste their email into the wiki and then send out an email with a link. In many cases in my office this could become a self reinforcing thing, since most people preferred short sweet emails with a link for more detailed info.
    • Another trick was to enforce this as a culture thing - we enough team changeover that people were inspired to wiki-ify something when they knew that the next new guy would need it, too, and putting it in the wiki now meant not having to dig it up later.
  • I had no good guidelines for what should go in the wiki

    • As a team lead, I led by example. Our best wiki information started with content that I laid out, then people told me that it needed an update, and I asked themto update it themselves on the wiki. When an area had a critical mass, then it got more play for further growth and enhancement. It was like the wiki needed to be "seeded".
  • I wasn't using the wiki to get my information, so it didn't occur to me to fix the information that was there.

    • Can be fixed by a combination of good finding-mechanisms - searchability, cross linking, content related suggestions, and other navigation tricks. And by the "seeding" of the wiki with useful content that exists no where else. If I had it to do over again, I'd move all our old pre-wiki "How To" documents to the wiki, so that there was no doubt where to look for useful information.

I know that in my teams we've had trouble switching from other communal forms of data sharing to a wiki-based format for reasons like this. In these cases, a badge system wouldn't have helped... it really took the elimination of mental barriers to entry.

I'd posit that while I like getting the "cookies" on the StackExchange sites, another reason I keep coming back is their immense searchability and the ability to get good content. If either of those qualities were missing, the badges wouldn't keep me around long.

These are good points to take into account! – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 20:49
Might you add some of the action you have done to weaken this points? – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 20:57
Giving it a shot... but not all of them proved fixable. – bethlakshmi May 16 '11 at 15:39

There is an extension that enables you to find "contribution scores".

The Contribution Scores extension polls the wiki database to locate contributors with the highest contribution volume – it is also in stable use on a high-volume wiki such as The extension is intended to add a fun metric for contributors to see how much they are helping out.

The score is defined as (number of unique pages edited) + 2 * square root ((number of edits) - (number of unique pages edited))...

This is interesting as it at least calculates scores I kind of manually could award. But it would feel better if the Wiki sends out automatically "You earned 'Month Master' for contributing to five pages this month!" than I writing a mail telling who did work that much. – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 14:21

If it's being mailed to a mailing list, I'd say its more useful for everyone if it is archived and searchable through a webinterface. I believe Mailman already does this.

Since everyone is already used to the procedure to mail it to the list their working habits don't have to change and all this info is being archived automatically.

The mailing list is not a real one. It is just an Exchange shortcut to mail something to 11 people without have to enter each name. No logical relations, no thread, no archive. Therefore we added the wiki to store all in a more structured way. – ZoolWay May 13 '11 at 15:04
Perhaps you should be moving to a mailing list manager instead? – Htbaa May 14 '11 at 21:51

I'm going through something similar. Actually our wiki has been in place for a number of years now and has never quite gotten off the ground. Yes, there is lots of content but it is disjointed, fractured and often doesn't provide much value. I have taken it on myself lately to drive it forward and make it successful. Here is what I can suggest:

  • Take a look at the Wikipatterns site. There is lots of good information on good and bad people and adoption patterns. Once you see things with a specific term and meaning applied to it, it is much easier to elevate the positive patterns and avoid the anti-patterns.
  • While not specifically automated achievements like StackExchange, you might want to look into Wikipedia Barnstars. It is a manual process, but it does provide similar value. Of particular interest is the Barnometer at the end of that page. I plan to re-work the Barnometer with the Wikipattern people patterns like wikiphobia, wikinoob, wikignome, etc.
  • bethlakshmi has a lot of good input. Be sure to read that response. Specifically what I am finding is that a lot of people are willing to contribute but just don't know where to begin. This can be especially difficult in a wiki environment that is so open and flexible that people just don't have the structure to create content in a way that feels comfortable.
  • To help get people over the initial phobia and beginner hurdles, I am putting on a Weekly Wiki Workout series of classes. I am making up the content as I go but it is basically structured to introduce people to the wiki and get them up to speed in navigation and editing. The more challenging topics will be scaffolding our content and actually putting words to paper. See this syllabus for an example.

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