By Anthony Baratta
Spurred forth by the ubiquity of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, wiki software has become wildly popular and commonplace over the past 15 years. A wiki is simply a website that allows for collaborative creation, editing, and linking to different pages. These sites are extremely useful for sharing large amounts of information, or to harness the expertise and ideas of your various team members to build a useful library of information.
As you might expect, SharePoint includes a wiki feature. By using the Enterprise Wiki site template, you can build a collaborative wiki site spanning your entire organization. For instance, an organization-wide wiki site might include answers to all the frequently asked questions that new employees could ever want to know.
Alternatively, you might like the idea of a collaboratively edited site for your individual teams, departments, groups. In previous blog posts, we've looked at using team sites to share ideas about a specific project. As it turns out, all of SharePoint's team sites are, by default, wikis.
Building Your Wiki Site
The list of possible applications for a wiki site in your SharePoint intranet goes on and on. The collaborative nature of a wiki site makes it an invaluable method for assembling a lot of information very quickly. Since the pages of a wiki site are customarily linked together, they also provide unrivaled navigation.
If you want to take advantage of these benefits within your enterprise, then harnessing SharePoint's wiki features is one of the best ways to do it. If you want to use wiki technology for smaller scale applications, like for individual team collaboration, click here to read our full blog on team sites.
The Enterprise Wiki Template
Should you decide that an organization-wide wiki is what you want, you will need to use SharePoint's Enterprise Wiki template to do the job. Below, we've outlined the easiest way to use the Enterprise Wiki template to start building a wiki site.
Navigate to the site where you want to create an Enterprise Wiki. If you want to create your wiki as a company-spanning, intranet-spanning hub of information, you might prefer to set up your wiki as a site collection. Click here to read Microsoft's tutorial on how to create a brand-new site collection. In most cases, though, enterprises can get plenty of mileage out of their wiki sites by just building them as subsites.
To build a wiki subsite, launch the "Settings" menu for your SharePoint site and click "Site contents." Here, you will be able to click "new subsite" to open a dialog page for a "New SharePoint Site."
If you have ever added a new site or subsite to SharePoint before, you know what to expect next. You must provide the necessary information about your new wiki site, including the title and URL. The most important section in the dialog box is "Template Selection," where you need to select the "Publishing" tab. Choose the "Enterprise Wiki" template from the list of available options.
Please note that the Enterprise Wiki template, at the subsite level, is a part of the publishing infrastructure for SharePoint. To use this template, therefore, you need to have publishing features enabled across your site collection. To set up a publishing portal where you can use features like the Enterprise Wiki template, click here. (Link to publishing portal article, once posted.) If you choose to create your wiki at the site collection level, you won't have to worry about this issue.
The last thing to configure in this dialog box is the permissions. Microsoft recommends using unique permissions for a wiki site, to make sure you can fully realize the collaborative nature of the wiki software. Once you've selected "Use unique permissions," click "Create" to finish.
We setup unique permissions on the Wiki site because we are only interested in controlling editing access to the wiki pages themselves. The rest of the wiki site should be read only for your user and editor population. The exception could be a document or media library where your editors can upload official company documents like policy letters linked to from your wiki articles or in the media library training videos you can embed into the wiki pages.
Using Your Wiki Site
Whether you built your wiki site using the Enterprise Wiki site collection template or the subsite template, the process of using the site should be more or less the same. Once you create your site, you will essentially just have a home page. The home page already has basic sample content, but you can edit and change all this content out to make way for your own content.
All you need to do to edit your wiki site is go to the home page and click "Edit." In editing mode, you can delete the sample text and type your own. You can also add pictures, tables, or links to other pages throughout your wiki. At the start, you won't have any other pages. However, you can still put in placeholder links and then use those links to create new pages for your wiki.
Those familiar with Wiki’s will be looking for the Wiki Markup options. SharePoint only supports the page link option: [[Page Name]]. The rest of the text markup options are available via the Ribbon bar once you enter edit mode. If you have access to a Team Site, there is a default helper page at the following URL you can use to kick start your page editing knowledge: /SitePages/How%20To%20Use%20This%20Library.aspx
Say you want to create an FAQ section as part of your wiki. Somewhere on the home page, just type FAQ with double brackets around it, styled as [[FAQ]]. Once you save the pages of your home page, go back and click the placeholder link under FAQ. SharePoint will automatically create and link to the new page, which you can then populate with content. Other users can go through these steps as well to slowly populate your wiki site with new pages and information.
To learn more about building a wiki site in SharePoint, do not hesitate to set up a free consultation with the SharePoint experts at 2Plus2. We can work with your to build your enterprise wiki. You can also reach us at 510-652-7700.