Blog - growing your community

One question I'm often asked is how to get more people to join a wiki. This is not an easy question to answer, recruiting people to your wiki can be a difficult and drawn out process, but it is possible! Here are some tips to help you on your way.

First, think about your topic. Is it one with a big fan-base? Or are there only a few people around who might be interested in editing? It's also good to search for existing wikis with the same topic (they appear on the right of the global search page) It can be hard to get contributors if there is already an established wiki on the topic, and hard to get high on search results too. If there is an existing wiki, think about joining that rather than making a new one on the same topic.

If you are ready to go ahead with creating a new wiki, the most important thing to start with is writing content. You should aim to write a good number of pages about your topic - we recommend at least 50. This is because your best source of new readers and writers is search engines. And for search engines to find you, they need something to find! Writing good quality, original, and well researched content is the best way to improve your search engine results. There's more about SEO on our help page

Another way to attract search engines, is to include plenty of links in your new articles. Search engine spiders look for these to navigate around the web, so be sure to link any key terms in your articles to join up your articles. Too many links are as bad as too few, but if you link the first mention of the most important words, ideally to another substantial article, you will help Google and other search engines, as well as readers, move around your wiki.

While working on your wiki, be sure to make it as pleasant an experience as possible for both reading and editing. A carefully designed theme with a relevant background and easy to see link colors can really give a positive and professional first impression. And don't forget images, they make pages much more attractive, and are good for SEO too.

You should also think about where new users might go when they reach the wiki. Making a well designed main page, with links to your most important articles, is a good way to showcase the content that visitors are most likely to want to find. You can also encourage participation by giving new visitors an easy way to start contributing - perhaps by asking a question in Discussions or talking in chat. Putting a Discussions activity feed on your main page will help people find that area of the site. And maybe, just maybe, those question askers will become question answerers and ultimately editors for your wiki.

A good way to ensure you have done all you can to make your wiki ready for new users is to use the progress wheel on the Admin Dashboard. This highlights tasks including adding photos and videos to your pages, and customizing your navigation to better suit your topic. You can find the Admin Dashboard at "Special:AdminDashboard" on your wiki.

Links to your wiki are as important as links in your wiki. So think about where you can provide routes for people and search engines to get to the site. For example, are there forums about your topic? Do they allow promotion of other sites on their boards? What about blogs? Are there people who blog about your topic? Could you ask them to review or talk about your site and get their readers to have a look? It's important not to spam, so check each site's policies, but there are ways of getting your message out without spamming.

You can also use social media as a way to bring traffic to your wiki. Consider making a Facebook or Twitter account for the wiki. You will need to work on content for these too, with up to date news and thoughts about your topic. Regular updates are important. But with each post or tweet, you can link back to your wiki to give people more information and a chance to join the wiki. Have a look at Wookieepedia's Twitter feed and Facebook page for good examples of this strategy.

Not every wiki succeeds in becoming active, but with these tips you will give your wiki the best chance possible to thrive and grow.

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Do you have tips for growing a wiki? What has worked for you?

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