Starting a wiki is only the first step in creating a successful community that will last the test of time. Growing a wiki is much like growing a plant: You start with a seed that, with the right care and attention, can grow into a proper plant.
We'll cover growing your wiki by area: Content, images, templates, and community.
Every wiki is dedicated to a topic that can be as narrow or as broad as the community wants it to be. What unites all wikis, however, is that they provide content to users, meeting a particular need: Whether they're looking for a walkthrough for a particular game, a guide to the convoluted plot of a popular TV series, or crocheting patterns, they want content.
The more quality the content, the better.
Of course, this brings us to the apparent Catch-22: To attract users, you need content. At the same time, you need users to generate content.
The easiest way to resolve this apparent contradiction is to focus on building the content up yourself. Although this might seem daunting, particularly at the start, it is most of the time a matter of patience. Remember, every great thing starts with a single step. Here are some useful pointers for creating content:
- Start with yourself. Take a moment to evaluate the topic and ask yourself, what are you most interested in? What do you want to find on a wiki? Doing so helps you set a specific goal and guide your early efforts. In time, you'll automatically start asking yourself what others want to find on the wiki, thus identifying what needs your wiki's content will address.
- Plan ahead. Having a general idea of what you want the wiki to look like down the road helps prioritize content. Remember, a plan isn't always a text file that reaches a gigabyte of size. Your main page is also a type of plan, identifying key content that is of immediate use to the users.
- Quantity has a quality of its own. SEO matters, but what doesn't exist cannot be indexed by search engines. Consider whether "seeding" articles might help your wiki appear in search results and thus increase the chance of users finding your wiki and editing. An existing article with a pre-formatted infobox and general layout of the article is a lot more likely to get edited than a non-existent one.
- Remember the cool stuff. Having a lot of coverage of mundane things is useful, there's no denying that. But if you want to make your wiki shine, consider what cool stuff you have found that you might like to share. It can be anything: Transcripts of defunct websites, old blog posts that provide obscure lore, promotional pictures you can't find anywhere these days, but you happen to have on your hard drive... What matters is that it's unique content that can't be found anywhere else.
- Think outside the box. Whenever you're editing, consider if you're doing it in the most efficient way. Are you adding a lot of articles? Maybe you could save a form to fill in on your computer or a sub-page of your profile. Maybe you have a lot of data saved in a spreadsheet? Then maybe you should consider exploring advanced tools to translate that into articles. The possibilities are limitless.
- But don't forget the basics. While working on growing a wiki, keep in mind the basics. For instance, categorize pages so that it's easier to keep track of them (and for users to find them and navigate your wiki). Consider using templates to standardize the look of a wiki and structure it.
Images and other files
An image speaks a thousand words, that much is obvious. When talking about wikis, they can speak ten thousand - and more! Files are a powerful tool for illustrating the wiki's topic: Images, sound clips, videos, and more can help make your wiki stand out from other sites on the topic.
When adding images, consider what you would like to see on the wiki. If you're playing a game, would you rather be given a set of more or less vague directions or an illustration of the precise spot you have to visit to collect an item or find an NPC? If you're reading about a movie, would you rather be told what a character looks like, or shown?
Furthermore, consider the cool factor mentioned above. Illustrations of topics are great - and they can be made even greater if you can showcase their evolution, for instance, by including concept art or other images that showcase how an idea evolved in time, be it a character in a television series, a location in a video game, or an illustration for a book.
- However, mind the copyright. Images and other files work best when their descriptions and copyright tags are given due attention.
Growing a wiki is made easier by also working on building a community. To this end, you might want to consider sharing your wiki with other fans of the topic. Know a forum they frequent? A Discord where they gather? Maybe a social media group they use to discuss their hobby?
Consider reaching out and announcing your wiki there. Even the greatest wiki can fall into obscurity if it's not known to the community. To forge closer ties, you might also look at our social media integration tools that can help tie Discord servers, Facebook pages, or Twitter accounts to the wiki and help expand in reach.
Note however, however, that the 1% rule may be particularly strong on wikis: Out of every 100 visitors, only 1 may decide to contribute. Even on highly popular wikis, only a fraction of the users may be responsible for the bulk of the contributions. If your wiki gets a lot of traffic, but few users seem to contribute, it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It's just the Internet, Jake.