This got me thinking, could we harness the power of wikis to help us generate and improve documentation for our software? Perhaps we could reformat Joe's user guide into a wiki format and then anyone within the company or outside the company can improve the documentation with tips, tricks, etc.
Apache has a wiki that has some documentation on it, so that can give us an example of how well (or not well) a public documentation wiki works:
- Log4J wiki (very popular project)
- Apache wiki (contains Log4J, Tomcat and more)
It looks like there's some information in the wikis, but nothing very interesting. Taking Tomcat as an example, you'll see that their "real" documentation isn't on the wiki at all. I think they may have had better luck if they had moved this content to the wiki. Only Tomcat developers can modify the "real" documentation at tomcat.apache.org, whereas Tomcat users (a much larger # of people) could modify the wiki content at wiki.apache.org.
So let's take this out of the hypothetical and make it concrete: Joe, how difficult would it be to transfer the contents of the user guide into a wiki format? Spider software users: would the wiki format be easier or harder for you to use than the current Word document format? Also, do you think there might be someone in your organization that has particular expertise with Spider software that would like to contribute to something like this?