Wiki success stories

Wiki-based systems often enable communities, both large and small, to move through contentious issues and find resolution. This page lists some success stories, in which groups using a wiki were able to find consensus despite steep odds, or were able to achieve a common goal through collaboration. Please add your own success stories!

Mary Ramsey Wood Wikipedia article

Mary Ramsey Wood, dubbed the "Mother Queen of Oregon" by the state legislature, is commemorated in many historical records as having lived to age 120. Several Wikipedia editors collaborated to establish, from multiple census records, that Wood was in fact only 97 - a worthy enough achievement in itself - at the time of her death.

Barlow Road Wikipedia article

Several Oregon editors collaborating on this article shared some confusion about the historical record of Sam Barlow and Joel Palmer's blazing of the end of the Oregon Trail, which in many sources did not seem to match the geography of the region. Through a careful reading of Palmer's journals, we found the text that might have confused someone unfamiliar with the area, and wrote a correct and clear version.

Discussion among editors on Wikipedia

One editor created an article on a historical figure, William Pope McArthur. Within about half an hour had "domino effect" of collaboration among several editors from different states led to the creation and expansion of several articles.

Determining what criticisms are acceptable

A conservative activist and blogger made a sustained effort to include numerous criticisms of the book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, many of which were unacceptable for various reasons. A number of Wikipedia editors, including the blogger, worked together to find an acceptable resolution, ultimately endorsing edited versions of two of his criticisms. Wikipedia article sustained efforts of a political actor trying to advance a biased point of view at the expense of an author and politician. The process was highly contentious, but the result was good. (See the talk page for much of the discussion.)

wikipedia:Heather Wilson

similar to above (see DCYF section.)

wikipedia:Brian Baird

similar to above (see Position on Iraq section.)


Group of 12 people from all over the world was at loggerheads on self-review with 3 versions. Used wiki and consensus poll to come to 100% agreement. One testimonial from a registrar: "I can't believe you were able to get that group of 12 ppl to agree on anything." (Brandon CS Sanders will expand)

>92% of 64 people agreed on how to give $12,500 after 4 months, 10,000 forum posts and completely divided community. (brandon will expand)

Virginia Tech massacre

Time lapse of Wikipedia article in days after shootings.

Mentor Graphics

Used internal wiki to improve communication between developers and QA team during software development, to good effect. Rich Becker's project; ask Ward Cunningham.

Software testing conference

agile development – ask Ward.

Eclipse Foundation

Used lots of collaborative tools, but wiki took over. Ask Ward.


Intellipedia is an internal resource for the U.S. intelligence community. CIA and other agencies transitioned to wiki, big story in NYT magazine. Breaking down silos, synthesis became more important than secrecy. Some huge number of new pages – 1000 per day? Jimmy Wales mentioned in testimony to Congress.

Related pages, places these stories might be useful

CHDK Wikia is a small wiki (~200 mainspace pages) on an incredibly niche subject -- a piece of collaboratively written software that allows users to finely control the use of certain Canon digital cameras. However, the community that writes and uses this software instantly coalesced around the new wiki in April 2007 and has been working steadily ever since on documenting this ever-evolving program.

Evidence of how the "Wiki process" works is a lovely example of how a conflict (whether or not to add an intrusive template in every place where a photo would be desirable, but is absent) was resolved.

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