By Jeff Kline


5 Steps To Building A Wiki For Your Chamber Website

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Did you say wookie?

Sorry Star Wars fans – today we’re talking about wikis. 

A long time ago, in a laboratory far, far away, a man named Ward Cunningham invented the wiki, which he described as “the simplest online database that could possibly work.” 

A wiki is a website where anyone can add and edit content – all that’s required is a web browser and an Internet connection. A successful wiki is the result of collaboration, neutrality and a lot of patience. 

You’ve probably already used Wikipedia and wikiHow, the ultimate how-to guide. But did you know your chamber could create a wiki, too?



The first thing to understand is that your chamber wiki must first and foremost benefit your members and community. The purpose of a wiki is to enable visitors to collectively create and receive valuable information and support. 

So, what’s the benefit for your chamber website? By building a community driven and supported information portal, your chamber website will be positioned as a credible guide to the local business community. 



Before you begin the planning process for your chamber wiki, be sure your existing or future website provides you with wiki functionality. Whether you want to create a resource guide today or in the future, you’ll need a website that gives you the freedom to do so.



In their book Groundswell, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff share smart tips on how to build a company wiki from the ground up. Using their insight, I developed a five-step plan for developing a wiki specifically for your chamber website.

Step 1 - Determine your vision

What is the objective of your wiki? An appropriate vision statement for a chamber wiki might be: “To serve as a resource guide for conducting business in our local community.”

Step 2 – Lay the groundwork

To get your wiki started, recruit chamber staff members to help fill your wiki with a substantial amount of foundation content. This will allow your wiki to give off a good first impression. (Potential contributors and visitors will be skeptical of an empty wiki resource). 

Organize your content into categories: Business, People, Culture, etc. On the homepage, highlight several daily items, such as “This day in our city’s history” or “Today’s top news”. Remember to keep content neutral and fact-based.

Step 3 – Build a core of experts

To help your newly launched wiki get off the ground, reach out to your local community. Recruit people who are interested in the project and are eager to contribute. In Groundswell, these people are referred to as your core of contributing experts, and they are the key to your wiki’s success. You’ll be surprised by how many people are eager to contribute to your chamber wiki – desire for psychic income is a powerful force.

Step 4 – Engage the public 

Introduce your wiki to the public with a digital news release, and distribute it via email marketing, social media and your own chamber website. Create a video tutorial on how to edit the chamber wiki and post it to your blog. Be available to answer any questions.

Step 5 – Monitor

Establish guidelines for editing the wiki, and develop a system for monitoring and managing all user-generated content. Take advantage of tools that filter spam and profanity. If you want a little more control, require all submissions to be approved for accuracy before they are published to the wiki.


WIKI SPOTLIGHT: (the Pensacola Encyclopedia) is a great wiki that serves as a valuable guide to the city of Pensacola, Florida. Nearly three thousand articles are broken down into eight different categories, which include Business, Culture, and Geography. Pensapedia also features a Community Portal, which allows registered users to discuss in-progress articles and offer suggestions for improvement.

The driving force behind every wiki is the fact that the content is created for the people, by the people. A wiki allows users to receive support, not just from your organization, but also from each other. By providing your chamber members and fellow citizens with a valuable city guide, you greatly strengthen your chamber’s relationship with the community.



  • Do you have experience using a wiki as a city guide?
  • Curious about how a wiki could be set up on your chamber’s website? 

Leave a comment or email me!


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