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Published on April 20th, 2017 | by Wrishiraj Kaushik

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How to Create and Maintain a Niche Wiki

How many the thought of building a niche wiki with dreams of having thousands of visitor each month came to your mind? For most of the people the dream stays a dream because of non-availability of quality guide to kick start the journey.

The idea of making a niche wiki a fascinating one, being one of the hardest, yet easiest thing one can do if you have passion for the niche you want to work with.

Choosing Your Niche

A “niche” is something denotes or relates to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. To choose your niche you must also be something that you are also passionate about. Once you have decided on something, it can be tech, or can be food or anything you like, we are ready to move ahead to share you passion with the world.

One thing you must remember before you dream of those thousands of hits per month is that; you have to invest lots of time and energy and money into the wiki over the next few years; and only then the wiki will self-sustain and have contribution and also start generating revenue. This is the main reason that you must also be passionate about the niche because for few years only you passion will be the driving force, not hits or money. Niche market has always been a market of cult and beliefs and hobby, be it Linux, or niche brand of headphones, its always a cult, so try to take advantage of the cult while you make your wiki. Do not chase money when you start, your passion for the niche is not passionate enough if you are only interested in making money, instead focus on sharing you interest and knowledge with the world, so that like minded people can also join you. That’s what a wiki should be all about.

Setting Up Your Domain and Hosting

The domain name is the address and the identity of your wiki, and it is the most important thing to choose the right domain for your wiki. You can register a domain name from any of the registrars and most of them also provide with options for web hosting and automated installations of software needed such MediaWiki or other wiki software to make a working wiki.

The domain game

Since we are trying to make a niche wiki for example lets assume “food and recipe wiki”, so pick up a domain name that tells people what the website or the wiki is all about. For food, a domain name such as “wikicook”, “thefoodwiki” are very good, as they tell people what the wiki is all about and anyone who is into cooking different types of cuisine will be instantly hitting your wiki.

Creating a logo (brand)

Branding is the key to success of any venture, that includes your wiki as well. So the first thing to do is to brand your wiki with a nice logo. If you are not a designer, no worries; there are marketplaces such as Fiverr to get your logos made professionally ranging from $5 to $20 depending upon your requirements. Make more than one logo, as then you will have more options to choose from.

Do not forget to ask for the source files for your logo from the artist, so that in case you want to do edits you do not have to pay the artist again and again.

Once you have received your logo, ask for feedback from people who share the niche and have a consensus with them on which logo to use, if you have brought more than one logo.

Launching Your Wiki

Once everything is set, its time to do the real work. First lets decide on what wiki software you wanna use. The most popular and widely used is MediaWiki, which powers Wikipedia. If you are new to making wikis it is best to stick with MediaWiki as it has a large community and documentation that will help you out in case you get stuck somewhere.

Okay, once you have chosen and installed your Wiki software, its time to make it open to the world. When your wiki is installed it comes with a set of default permissions that may or may not work for your needs, you may want to change who can access and edit what. This is very important in if you want multiple collaborators to edit your wiki, but don’t want it vandalized by anonymous users.

You should always create different levels of users, such as admins who can make edits that don’t appear in the recent changes log, or maintainer who can merge pages without having to get approval. This highly important to create a powerful and diverse user base that will keep your wiki running smoothly.

Creating Content

Once your wiki is open to the world, you are ready to write articles. When you start, your wiki will not have any pages or contributors, other than you. Since, you are passionate about your niche; you are the best person to start contributing to your wiki and generate some interest among the people, and start a community around the niche, keeping your wiki as the central knowledge sharing station for the community. If you write good content, it will always drive people to your wiki and as more people visits, other visitors will also begin to start contributing their own  articles and edits to your wiki. Patience is the key thing in the niche market, it will take time, maybe years but you’ll eventually have a community that loves and is same way passionate about your special niche as you are.

But you must never forget, when you’re starting out, you are the first person responsible to create content and share it among the people so that more and more like minded people join you and start contributing to your wiki. While you expect contributors; it is also very important to be tolerant, if a article is edited by a contributor previously created by you, and both versions are correct, always prefer the new version as it will enlarge the wiki’s point of view and will send a positive message to welcome new contributors.

Administration

The main strength of an wiki is that anyone can edit it, but this is also its biggest weakness. The more traffic comes to your wiki, the risk of vandalism also raises. However the good part is that, almost all wiki software allows for quick rollbacks of articles to their previous versions. Again, very tolerant while rolling back articles. Only rollback if it a real case of vandalism and not if a contributor has made edits which you may not appreciate, but the edits aligns to the article and aspects of the niche your wiki is all about. Remember Wiki is a team work and alone you cannot do anything, so be a wise ruler not a dictator.

Build a real team

While occasional contributors come and go but overtime you will find some people to be very active with you wiki, these people are the true believer of the niche you believe in and they will stick with you for a long time, so promote them and make a team with them. Give them responsibilities and power over your wiki, as per their skill sets and trustworthiness. Be a supportive leader and always be nice to the contributors. It is important that you be their helping hand when they get stuck and you guide them and motivate them to work on the wiki. By creating team from the community, you will also relieve a lot of the pressure that you will otherwise face alone while maintaining your content. In order to make things more streamlined, you should also consider setting up a forum or an IRC channel where team members can communicate and exchange views on various aspects of the wiki. The process of administration should be democratized where policy decision are taken by vote and not by you alone so that every community contributor feel that the wiki also belongs to them and not only you.

Marketing

Spreading word about the existence of your wiki is the key to its success. There are several websites that enlists wiki such wikiindex.org, make sure to enlist your wiki as well. Since there are lot of niches that share some similarities, for example the Linux and BSD niches, in the world of computing, you can also find wikis targetted towards niches which are somewhat related to your niche, and befriend with the admins so that you can exchange links to and from them. Remember your wiki is just a droplet in ocean of various other niche wikis, so exchanging links is one of the best way to get support and also support others to get traffic. Engaging and talking to the community of other wikis is also a key aspect of promoting your wiki, as human being has diverse range of interests, some people who are already interested in some other niche may also be interested in you, so talk to them and share your passion with them. The more you talk, the better you will be known among the people.

Also, social media plays a great role these days for promoting anything, try to take leverage of the network and ask your friends at Facebook and other social platforms to share the wiki around, and also ask them to ask their friends to do the same, this way the word of mouth will flow very deep and your niche wiki will get serious followers, apart from socail media, look for forums related to your niche, and talk with the members to become contributors, the chances are most people will happily accept the invitation to contribute to the wiki if the niches are same. Do anything that is in you power to promote your site, talk to people in person, hold events about your niche and promote your wiki there. The more you speak the bigger the wiki will get.

Growing up

The lifecycle of your wiki is similar to the lifecycle of a human being. While young it will be easy to maintain it but as it becomes more and more popular, you must continue to improve, no only the quality of articles but adding news features that will make your wiki more interactive and fun. From forums to chat rooms, from polls to calendars, add functionality to your wiki as you grow. As you grow your visitor will also expect more so don’t forget to update and upgrade the content and quality from time to time.

A niche is something that is interesting to a specific group of people, while wiki stands for What I know Is. A niche wiki is a perfect combination of human interest and the desire to share knowledge. Wiki is a collaborative task, people who are passionate about something will always looks for ways to spread their passion with other, a niche wiki is one of the best ways to do so. So go ahead, create the next big niche wiki!

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About the Author

Wrishiraj Kaushik

Software entrepreneur by profession and geek by design, I'm an open source advocate and I've great interest in science and technology of all kind.



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