See, here’s the thing… there’s a bit missing in the story being told about wikis.
First bit missing is that the story is dominated by wikipedia, because it’s so wildly successful and provides such great consumer experience (both contributor and reader) but it’s pretty ropey thinking to think that wikipedia is typical of a wiki, its been long understood that on the internet, the most successful may not be a good role model ( see: what’s good for Amazon is not good for normal sites). This is doubly true for an intranet. So the missing bit there is what is it that makes wikipedia work and does that extend and apply to other types of publishing? Its not just that its a wiki.
The next bit missing is how to get the stuff in wikis to be good, and what to do if it isn’t good or there isn’t much there at all. If you are wanting to use a wiki for a reason (such as provide information to people) then you need some techniques and measurements to see if it is delivering, there aint a free lunch and wiki’s will not by magic, osmosis or the wisdom of the crowd migrate around the optimum value… what if you threw a party and nobody came? I’ve seen tons of stuff about how to write for the web, how to blog, tips for getting people to read your blog, but nothing much about how to get this wiki started.
Like ‘Fight Club’ I suppose you could stand in a car park and beat yourself up.. but its not true that ‘if you build it they will come’.
Lastly, because wiki’s use a wysiwyg creation, the assumption is that this speed of publishing over-rides the quality of what is produced (I call this the Microsoft Front Page argument). The best intranets I’ve seen actually have a poor or even a not-wysiwyg interface encouraging best web writing practice. Hated by the authors, loved by the users. Wikipedia has a huge amount of background tidying-up ers because a lot of its content isn’t originally very good. If you can’t depend on an army of “hobbyist pedants” your wiki isn’t going to be a good user experience.
I hope I’m not sounding too pessimistic, I love wikis and wish there were more of them, but they aren’t free money and they can’t beat a good content management system in terms of reader experience.