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truthsearch's Journal: How does a small wiki find contributors? 5

Journal by truthsearch

I launched the DocForge wiki for programmers almost two years ago. The intent is to grow a comprehensive reference for everyone who writes software. Unlike Wikipedia we accept original research and opinions.

We've had a few very helpful contributors, but most of the content has been posted by me. Some of the articles use Wikipedia content as a starting point, which helps. But I'm having a difficult time finding many others who are interested in making serious contributions. The irony of any wiki is it needs enough content to grow a community, but it needs a community to grow content. Ideally we'd eventually grow large enough to be able to hire some writers and editors as employees.

So how do we find people who are interested in contributing to DocForge? Paying for every contribution isn't a good idea because of politics, legalities, economics, and a low budget. I'd like to give occasional gifts to great contributors, but that doesn't bring in new writers. One promising way to go may be bounties, making donations to charities or open source projects when an article or section reaches a certain quality. On my low personal budget that could get expensive. What other options do I have? How could I attract those who are frustrated with Wikipedia's limitations and politics? How can I get the word out on this project to other programmers and academics (other than the obvious linking from dzone, etc.)?

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How does a small wiki find contributors?

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  • People will only use your wiki if they know about it.
    Put links to your wiki at other sites, have an 'Ask Slashdot' article about your wiki, etc..

    Other sites linking to your wiki could be, among others,

    • WikiPedia - if your wiki has more subject specific information than the WikiPedia article
    • Project websites - if your wiki has project specific information

    The current list of sites linking to your wiki is rather limited ( http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&as_qdr=all&sa=X&oi=spell [google.com]

    • Thanks. I help others on programming forums and link to DocForge (when appropriate). I sometimes respond to blog posts and link to DocForge (when appropriate). I get the most visibility and new contributors when I submit a link to dzone.

      Building up more project-specific information and mentioning it on project sites and mailing lists is also a good idea.

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