Help:How to start a community

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Collaboration

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Why establish a community?

This wiki can facilitate building and sustaining many different types of communities including:

  • Communities of interest - people with interests in common, or similar passions can get together and share the latest experiences, events, and information on a given topic or activity
  • Functional communities - federal public sector employees, working in departments and agencies, sharing common work functions, purpose and interests, and employing similar skills, training and competencies.
  • Communities of practice - people performing similar duties or roles can swap ideas, the latest research, lessons learned, approaches to problem-solving and more
  • Communities of action - members can unite around a particular course of action they are all trying to complete such as policy or strategy development, completion of a business case, etc.
  • Communities of purpose - cross-functional teams can share ideas, experiences, strategies and report on progress towards a common goal

What do I need to know?

Establishing a community requires planning. Some of the things you might want to address in your planning are:

  • name the community effectively
  • build an engagement strategy for your community
    • be sure to include face-to-face meetings and phone conversations as part of your plan to build and sustain relationships
  • establish a plan for your content pages that allows intuitive navigation by the community
  • set up a small editorial board with identified roles and responsibilities to ensure a core team for contributions and up-keep

Building community membership

Some tips:

  • reach out and touch someone - work the phones
  • dynamic, face-to-face presentations are a great way to introduce wikis to your community
  • get members contributing right away, whether it's small editing jobs, or creating pages
  • post meeting agendas on the wiki page, bring the page up at your meeting, and get someone to record minutes in the wiki in real-time
  • host "scaffold-building" or "barn-raising" meetings where you build the structure for your community wiki; see wikipatterns.com on BarnRaising
  • showcase well-developed user/member profiles and hold a contest for the prettiest, most functional, most interesting, etc; NRCan has some amazing ones!
  • send a link to the wiki instead of sharing information via e-mail
  • get a dynamic speaker in to talk about how he or she is using a wiki for collaboration
  • post workplans or task lists in the wiki and ask people to check it daily or weekly
  • create a video demonstrating your community's vision for collaborating on this wiki
  • a Frequently Asked Questions section can help people find their way around and get them contributing quickly
  • upcoming events schedules posted on the wiki gives members a reason to check back frequently
  • a "top contributors" section will provide recognition for contributors
  • a thank you note on talk pages can be encouraging

Read more about this at wikipatterns.com Build group collaboration

What are the essential elements to include in a wiki community space?

  • A unique and descriptive name that will resound with your target community; consult' Help: Naming conventions
  • Objectives: identify them at the top of your community page
    • what do you want your community to accomplish? Is it simply a place to share ideas and perspectives? Are you working towards a specific goal? Finishing a certain piece of collaborative work?
  • Membership: identify the types of members you would like to join your group or who you envision might be interested in joining
  • Forums and Governance: whether you have some established, or you are seeking to set some up, list associated committees and governance bodies
  • Policies: if your community will operate according to some established or developing policies, put them in
  • Projects: are there small sub-projects that are going to be established to get your community built, or maybe there is one funded project that your community is built around; create a place to establish them
  • Documents: are there seminal or related documents you want to share with the community-at-large?
  • Sub-category pages: these will provide the space to investigate various topics your community wishes to discuss or work towards
  • Relevant categories: at the bottom of the page list any other categories that are associated or relevant to this particular community and its objectives

Creating the community page

Once you've determined the name for your community:

  • go to the Search window on the left
  • type "Category:" and the name you've chosen - ie. "Category: bird watchers community"
  • Click "Go"
  • the Search results page will say ""There is no page titled "category: bird watchers community". You can create this page.""
  • Click on "You can create this page" link; this will open a new page that will become your community's index page
  • Start entering text in your newly created page
  • Add "Category:Communities" enclosed in [[ ]] at the very bottom of the page and your community index page is established
    • Category:Communities enclosed in square brackets [[ ]] is a "tag" that is only added to your community's main page, and not to other pages [[Category:Communities]]

Tips and tricks for wiki-based communities of practice

Choosing a structure for your community page

Once you determine the information you want on your community page you can structure it in many different ways.

Put in place a basic community scaffold

  • To put in place a basic structure consult the Community template that has been established with some basic headings
  • Click the edit tab at the top of the page, highlight and copy the coding you see in the editing window and paste it into the page you created following the above steps
  • Now, you have a bare bones and simple "Community scaffold" to fill in to build your community upon

Build your own community scaffold

To build your main community page to suit your specific needs:

  • Learn more about scaffolds
  • Consult MediaWiki Help:Formatting for a list of the wiki markup you will use most often, and establish the level of headings you want for your page by surrounding them with the appropriate wiki coding
  • Create sub-categories for your community

Wikipedia Help:Namespace