For Code for America’s Race for Reuse, me and a few of my friends here in San Luis Obispo stood up wikiSLO. Once we had it up and running we needed to fill it with content. In effort to do so, we hosted a write-a-thon on December 1. The result: a huge success! We were extremely pleased with the turnout (a little more than 25 people) for it being the first event ever for wikiSLO. Everyone who came had a good time exchanging stories, watching videos, eating snacks, and writing about the things they know and love in San Luis Obispo (SLO). The response was 100% positive.
One of the coolest things was the open discussion that happened organically about the wiki. Everyone was excited about the prospect of learning something new, sharing what they know, and watching the site turn into a valuable and fun resource. One of my professors came with his young daughter and they started writing a story together. This brought up the awesome idea of kids writing stories for other kids and publishing them on the wiki. This led us into a great discussion about how the wiki must provide something for everyone. The broader the scope of our content, the more valuable the resource is for residents — and garner more excitement because the content will include more a wider range of interests.
What worked well at the write-a-thon:
- The first thing I asked of people when they arrived was to just browse around the wiki and get the feel for it. After browsing for five or 10 minutes, everyone became so excited about writing pages that they just got to work. (One person did actually browse for more than an hour claiming that the wiki was addicting!)
- Snacks. We bought a bunch of chips and dips, dried fruit, nuts, chocolates, drinks, etc. and this kept people nourished and in the zone. Most people stuck around for about five hours. Everyone loved passing around the food and talking about all cool things in SLO.
- Content. Having enough content already on the wiki to get people excited and to have them discover something new before they started writing was key. This helped show how wide ranging content could be — that they could write about literally anything in SLO. One of the favorites is the page about the local surfing goat.
- Discussion. There were dozens of awesome ideas that came out of the event that many people worked on or will develop in the coming weeks such as the music stores page.
- Passion. I encouraged people to share information that they cared about. Even if it was personal or only relevant to a select group. Great content is content you can’t find anywhere else — the insider’s perspective. Such as SLO adventures.
- Sharing. Like buttons on every page allowed people to quickly share the pages they had just written.
What did not work:
- We did not get any new/random people. I was hoping we would because of the recent press and publicity the wiki had received, but only friends showed up. Perhaps this happened because the event was held at a private residence. Others would likely feel more comfortable in a public setting like the library or coffee shop. This is where I plan on hosting our next event.
Photos and some statistics from the event can be found here.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.