One of the sites I'm working with lately at my job combines a forum (vBulletin), blog (Joomla), and wiki (Mediawiki) into one experience. Each of these tools does a great job at what it was designed to do. They're three separate platforms skinned and linked together.
I used to think the site was a hodgepodge of software platforms, but now I see that these three resources can harmonize together in an amazing way.
Here's the interaction in a little more detail:
I never considered how well these tools work together, but they do. The different mediums allow users to interact in ways that suit them. Of course it would be nice to have one tool that has an incredibly powerful blog, wiki, and forum wrapped up into one package. Some wiki platforms provide all three, such as Tiki Wiki. But swiss-army knife tools almost invariably perform much like an on/off road motorcycle.
The drawback of having three sources for content, however, is that content published on one source may never make it to the other sources. For example, if I write a blog article about a new application, shouldn't that content also appear as an article on the wiki? If a forum thread clarifies a topic, shouldn't that clarification be added to a wiki article? If I add a new wiki section, shouldn't that section be announced and summarized, as well as explained, on the blog? Content overlap becomes a problem. So does search.
Regardless of the overlap problem, combining a forum with a wiki and blog has tangible benefits. It helps solve the participation problem with wikis. Users are more comfortable asking a question in a forum rather than changing the original content of an article. Wiki admins can harvest information from these forum threads to strengthen the information of the wiki. Significant new wiki information should be announced to users on the blog.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.