[Home]GimmeFive

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This page is meant as good advice for authors and builders of wiki content and structure. Elsewhere I wrote "A wiki should grow like a plant from a seed always being in balance and beauty". But writing that and seeing the necessity was easier than finding ways to express how to do this. Sometimes articles are written and that's great, these are large step of growth. Sometimes a page is created with a single link, just as a note, not to forget the idea. Isn't this ok too? What about categories or FAQs - when and how should we start them? When is there "balance and beauty"?

What is lacking if there is "not-beauty"? Recently a good online-friend of mine - but a bit weird like all of us - started to read and contribute to some of our wikis. I was very happy about his becoming active but at the same time I was annoyed by the way he did it. The lesser problem was that he didn't just solve small problems, but always asked, so there were numerous small exchanges where I assured him to do the changes. The bigger problems was that my friend added small amounts of information, for example a link to a new community on a new page for it - without any information or reasoning at all.

This got me thinking. Of course I was annoyed because I felt that these pages are not right, "not beautiful?" in the sense above. Probably I was annoyed also because I felt to have to work to make them look right. I wanted at least a sentence at the beginning of the page. Then the link, that's ok. Then perhaps some citation from the community defining itself (this forced me to follow the link, read a bit, angryness grows). Then perhaps a sentence or two that connects this page to the local wiki topic. And of course the category. Now the minimum (just for this type of page, not as a general pattern for all pages) seemed done.

But thinking about this and similar situations I felt that there is something general in this. When is there enough substance? When does something become interesting? When does it look right? Of course it has to do with the amount or rightness of information. What is the right number of items, of sentences, of ideas that looks right? Better, what is the minimum number of such items or sentences ideas - for example in a FAQ - so that one can lean back relaxed and say "this is a start", something that can grow. Is it one? two? three? four? five? six? seven? For some reason I felt that only three, five or seven might qualify.

Now the answer is obvious. The answer is five. Three is too small a number. Seven is nicer but puts the work-load too high (if you can do it, the better). So:

GimmeFive means "give me five". This is the wiki rule of optimum growth. Best advice I can give. Another one: get the five in a symmetry to make them beautiful and extensible. Another one: instantly forget that the number is important, entirely forget about this advice, follow your intuition, your feeling.


Nice idea, Helmut. I'll work with it and see how it feels for me. So far, it makes me think of C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner saga, especially your "it should be 3, 5 or 7" line. -- ChrisPurcell

I like it too. If you AddValue? repeatedly by giving five, then you can also feel confident you can ask the community to GimmeFive, as in a high five for a job well done. -- SunirShah

Your positive reactions make me happy. One never knows how contributions are received. Even when one is convinced to have found value, one depends on being told. Thank you. -- HelmutLeitner

There is a pattern/practice in there somewhere also. Another way to show appreciation, like the BarnStar, adding a community tag, something like ValuedContent?.


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