Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
We found the perfect way to implement our internal Knowledge base using Wiki. First a little bit of information on our company, Bobcares. Bobcares is in the business of providing technical support for Web Hosting companies. We support Control Panels like cPanel, Plesk, Ensim, Hsphere, Helm and many more, on platforms such as MS Windows, Linux and various flavours of Unix. Bobcares engineers need to be on the cutting edge of technology, so that they can solve a variety of Tier 2 and Tier 3 issues that Internet servers face.
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As a smaller company with four or five engineers, the easy way of updating knowledge amongst ourselves was by email, or around the water coolers. As we grew to the current strength of 150 engineers, we realised that this wouldn’t work anymore. The Bobcares advantage has been our collective experience and knowledge. As we continued to grow, we needed to find a way to spread this collective knowledge within our company and to grow and improve on it. We hit upon an idea to implement, a common Knowledge Base, that was accessible to our engineers to update and search.
Any Knowledge Base solution that we chose had to be easy to search and easily updated by all. The most important feature we needed was for our engineers to easily create new Knowledge Base entries and to edit each other’s entries. While registering and logging in, was a nice to have feature, we didn’t want an engineer to go through registration, unless he or she wanted to. That meant that anonymous entries should be allowed. However, if people logged in, and created a KB entry, that entry would be credited in their name.
Wiki was a natural choice. A Wiki allows users to put in entries without logging in. It allows users to edit entries, either logged in or not. We chose Mediawiki, an Open source PHP, MySQL based Wiki implementation. Mediawiki is used by Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia with over a million articles, and edited daily by thousands of anonymous users around the world.
Installation of Mediawiki was fairly straightforward. It includes a number of in-built themes, which allow you to edit the look and feel. The feature we used the most in mediawiki, was the Category/Subcategory feature. This allows users to create categories and articles within the categories. In order to help users create new pages easily, we installed the Inputbox extension.
The home page of the InHouse knowledge Base
This was implemented using the Category feature of Mediawiki
We created private namespace in Mediawiki called KB, which allowed all our Knowledge base articles to be searched and categorized differently from other pages on our site. This is a sample article.
Creating new articles
Use Inputbox, allowed our users to create articles easily. Instructions were customized using the Templates feature of Mediawiki.
About the author:
Sangeetha Naik heads Bobcares.com. She is the co-founder of Poornam Info Vision Ltd., Software and IT services company specializing in Linux based solutions for Webhosts and ISPs. Poornam Info Vision is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company with a team of over 140 engineers.
Sangeetha is a Computer Engineer based in India and has over 7 years of experience in the Hosting industry. Her articles have been published both online as well as in print.