Do Wikis and Forums Go Together Like Bacon and Eggs?

WilliamQ has posted a terrific reference on Milepoint – the goal of which is to provide:

A source for easy reference on hotel chains (brands) which provides Complimentary Breakfast to guests regardless of status, room or package booked.

In addition to the information contained in the first post, I find this thread interesting because it challenges my opinion as to the usage of wikis in discussion forums.

“How’s that Mikel?” Allow me to explain.

I have generally been a proponent of setting up forums and wikis to work symbiotically. Way back in the day, I helped launch the FlyerGuide.com wiki – the idea at the time being that the wiki could be used by FlyerTalkers to centralize and continually build upon data that was more structural in nature. And in doing so, the theory was, when a new member inevitably asked a question such as, “Which credit cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee?”, instead of there being added yet one more lengthy and repetitive thread on the subject, a veteran member could simply point the information seeker to the Credit/Debit/ATM Cards and Foreign Exchange page on the wiki and everyone would be happy.

Then, when we launched Milepoint, the software we used offered wiki functionality built right in – essentially meaning that when you perform a search on Milepoint, wiki results are included in the results. Members created some incredible content, like the American AAdvantage Elite Status page and the Hyatt Property Reviews page. And you could even start a thread based on a wiki page … and all was good.

Then FlyerTalk introduced wiki posts, wherein the first post in a thread can be setup as a wiki and groups of members who have achieved certain permission levels are allowed to make edits to the post.

And I thought, “you know what, I think being able to combine a thread and a wiki like Milepoint and FlyerTalk both do now is pretty much perfect”.

And then I came across this thread.

Clearly someone needed to turn WilliamQ’s post into a wiki and that would be that. But as I read further into the thread I came across some posts that have caused me to wonder if there might be a better way still to handle this wiki/thread relationship.

Turkish hotels usually include breakfast. And what a spread they usually are ~Tad’s Broiled Steaks

Important question about a free breakfast is whether it can be healthy or just offers a bunch of carbs. Comfort Inn, my middle-brow stay-of-choice, always has eggs and sausage for breakfast sandwiches, only you can skip the English muffin, and they also have hard boiled eggs. So those of us who avoid carbs are just fine. They also have fresh fruit. I think this chain does a terrific job with breakfasts; it ain’t haute cuisine but it gets the job done and the traveller on her way. ~peanutfiend

This is great stuff, and frankly, if the first post had been a wiki post I might have missed it. For me, and I suspect for many others, when I come across a wiki post my inclination is to read the first post to find the information I’m after, and only contribute a post to the discussion if I think there is something that should be added/subtracted to the wiki and I don’t have the proper permission to do so.

In other words, I wonder if wiki posts both inhibit conversational posts and create a perception that the thread doesn’t need to be read in its entirety. If this particular thread had been started with a wiki post, would Tad’s Broiled Steaks and peanutfiend (both great usernames btw) have contributed these posts? And would I have read far enough in to find them?

What do you think? Are wiki posts the best that can be done in terms of combining the benefits of a wiki and a forum, or is there another, better way? Or do wikis and forums even belong together? Perhaps they are two formats that shouldn’t be combined at all, and the forcing together of each isn’t adding additional value.

Would love to hear your opinions on this topic.

Read the thread that inspired this post in its entirety: Complimentary Breakfast in Hotels

Image: “Bacon ‘n Eggs” by Greg Hinson. CC BY-NC 2.0.

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