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How one author uses PBwiki to let anyone edit his New York Times bestseller

20 Feb

Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, a book that’s become phenomenally successful. (The book is about “lifestyle design” and working less to achieve your goals, including some provocative ideas about outsourcing your life.)

After simultaneously being listed as a bestseller on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Businessweek lists, Advertising Age listed it as one of 2007′s best product launches.

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In fact, we have a few copies of the book in our office.

For the second edition of his book, Tim decided to use PBwiki to edit his New York Times bestseller. On the 4-Hour Workweek wiki, he asked his readers to point out corrections, add ideas, and suggest examples for the newly revised 4-Hour Workweek.

The 4-Hour Work Week wiki launched last night around 11pm and already has hundreds of visitors and dozens of high-quality edits.

This is a great way to use PBwiki. By allowing his readers to add their thoughts, Tim taps into their collective knowledge. And because he has a Premium wiki, he can assign his editors “Contributor” access so anything they do is reversible (e.g., no deleting pages!).

Learn more:

If you’re interested in using PBwiki for managing a project — or writing your own New York Times bestseller! — create a free wiki at PBwiki.com.

PBwiki hosts more pages than Wikipedia!

16 Oct

We’re surprised and thrilled to see how fast our PBwiki community is growing. Today, we’re announcing some news:

PBwiki hosts more pages than English Wikipedia

If your co-workers or friends have been wondering about using wikis, point them to this post for a roundup of articles on using PBwiki to make your life easier.
1. Video: See how we use PBwiki to power our own team
2. Create pages and upload files
3. Best practices for getting others to join your wiki
4. Add interactive plugins to your wiki
5. See other PBwiki examples

To our PBwiki community: How should we spread the word about PBwiki in the Fortune 500?

17 Sep

We were combing through some data a few weeks ago and discovered something interesting: Over 1/3 of the Fortune 500 has used PBwiki. This is great news for our Small Business Edition — with so many Fortune 500 users, we’ve already seen small business users feeling more comfortable about security and safety.

PBwiki Small Business Edition

So we’re turning to our PBwiki community: How should we spread the word about PBwiki in the Fortune 500 to small businesses?

1/3 of the Fortune 500 use PBwiki

Leave a comment on this post with a suggestion or example of how you would spread the word to business users. The best suggestion will win one free year of the PBwiki Small Business Edition!

Best practices for getting others to contribute to your wiki

12 Sep

When it comes to building a collaborative wiki, there are certain elements that significantly increase your chances for getting others to contribute to your wiki. Here are the PBwiki best practices for getting participants to be fully engaged in your wiki.

Avoid Blank-Page Syndrome: Pre-fill your wiki with content.
Most people get scared by blank pages. We call this “blank-page syndrome,” which causes users to flee and never return. There’s a way around this: Just add some content to your wiki before inviting users. Consider adding an “About Me” page, a “What’s this wiki about?” page, and a few more welcoming pages. Not only will this help new users get situated, it will help you get experience editing your new wiki. We find the learning curve of successful wiki editors to be about 12-15 minutes.

Make the front page a landing page for navigation.
Your front page should have a short explanation of the purpose of the wiki and links to appropriate pages, not one long scrolling page. This helps in two ways: First, users tend to get overwhelmed when they first come to a wiki, so this approach lightens up the content on the page and directs them to the next step. Second, if you get large amounts of users on one page, they won’t be able to edit it at once. With multiple pages, the chances of two people trying to edit a page at the same time is lower. So keep a short front page with links to other pages.

Give users something concrete to do.
One user, “Michelle,” had trouble getting co-workers to participate in her wiki for over a year. Then she changed her approach: She asked users to change one line of the Frontpage. Participation skyrocketed and continues to be strong a year later. Consider creating a soft request, like asking users to add their name or to fix a single spelling error on the wiki page. They’ll be much more likely to try editing if they have a small nugget to accomplish first.

Making logging in as easy as possible.
The problem is not access controls – it’s creating something compelling enough to get people to contribute to your community in the first place. Make your wiki easy to access and worry about access controls after getting a few regular participants. (If you absolutely need ironclad business security, we do offer the PBwiki Small Business Edition.)

Get everyone to participate.
When you start a new wiki, you’ll find that some people will cling to old methods of communication. For example, some of our users report that their co-workers continued emailing them or asking others to “please put this on the wiki.” When people email you, point them to the wiki. The beauty of PBwiki is that the most current information is always on the wiki, so direct them to your PBwiki URL and encourage them to add it themselves. After 2-3 reminders — and seeing their co-workers actively using it — they’ll be much more likely to contribute to your wiki.

Remind your users that it’s ok to play.
Your wiki users will be nervous the first time they come to PBwiki, wondering if they’re going to mess something up or cause an irreversible change. Assure them that it’s ok to edit pages — PBwiki automatically tracks changes and allows you to reverse changes, so they should feel free to edit an existing page or create a new page. In fact, one of your goals might be for each user to create their own page!

Make PBwiki part of your day.
One of our most successful wiki editors added “It’s on the wiki! http://wikiname.pbworks.com” to his email signature, instant-message window, and on his website. When users messaged him, it was the first thing they saw. Consider putting your daily schedule or important notices on your wiki. When others see it used regularly, they’ll buy in, too.

No loafing at the PBwiki HQ

6 Jul

And Fridays are very serious.

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Apparently some kid by our local Vietnamese place was making balloon … pbj sandwiches. They’re not usually that chewy.

Want some free materials to spread the word about PBwiki?

12 Jun

We have some free PBwiki materials I want to share with you.

Lots of our users give talks about wikis. Some are teachers, like the 1,000+ who responded to an email I sent out a few months ago asking if they plan to present about wikis. (They presented in places like Maine, Malaysia, and Texas — see pictures.) Others are just casual users who want to show their friends what a wiki is. Sometimes, employees in big companies want to communicate the idea of a wiki to their boss.

For everyone, we’ve developed the PBwiki Presenter Packs, which include videos, how-to guides, and more. Until now, you had to sign up to get them (and if you want a free PBwiki t-shirt, you should still sign up).

But now you can download the PBwiki Presenter Pack materials and use them for free right here. Enjoy!

-Ramit

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