Project development notes from conversations with some really smart people. Notes from others are pending their approval.
Sounds like an interesting project you're starting. Here are a few places where I think you may have luck finding potential contributors:
- YNPN (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network): The San Francisco section has a VERY active mailing list, mostly made up of young-ish people who are working with nonprofits. If you haven't already, I highly suggest you join the group, and post your introduction and a few more details about what you're looking for.
- TechSoup Community: TechSoup (where I work) is an organization that helps nonprofits with their technology needs. The forums in the community section have over 80,000 regular participants from nonprofits. They are not all in the Silicon Valley, but it still seems like a good starting point for this discussion. There will be an online event about Wikis, actually, this week Nov 1- Nov 3. Since you are using a wiki, I highly suggest you get involved in this conversation. People who are already into wikis will be able to jump right in, and you can provide your wiki as an opportunity for people who are new to wikis to experiment with using them.
- And of course, NetSquared. A project of TechSoup, and is the part that I work on and that Tara supports. You can blog your request on this site, though like TechSoup, it's not local and you may not get as good of a response as you would from something that's more targeted.
- Also, as an event organizer who uses Meetup, I suggest you also post your event on other sites, like Upcoming.org, Zvents, Eventful, Renkoo, Skobee, Involver, Weekendr, MySpace Events, and the Idealist events list - Idealist is another great place to find nonprofits.
- Get a logo that’s recognizable, straightforward, represents your brand
- Develop the project description – make it a succinct statement of who you are, what you plan to do, why do it. Include progress to date, long-term vision.
- Fine tune message to students: involvement will help them to be journalists, younger people are the future of journalism
- It’s a platform for writers, a well-coordinated, focused blog
- You’re providing a platform to marry up two groups – nonprofits & students – to come together for each other’s benefit
- How do you get the eyeballs? Get wider distribution. This has the potential to have stories picked up by major media. The GFDL license allows them to pick up the stories for commercial use, with attribution, linkbacks. Also gives nonprofits broader reach. Wikia can help with this.
- Do stories that have a group focus – e.g. what do these five nonprofits have in common, or here’s a group of stories on the homeless. Trends in nonprofits.
- Give it a Bay Area reach, not so needle-focused. Groups that serve the Valley also serve the Bay, and also do work around the world.
- Navigate between the freedom that’s so great about wikis, and the quality of the work. Maybe have stable (protected) versions. Reserve the right to delete bad work. Make this clear in an Editorial Policy.
- Storyboard 10-12 articles – layout, headlines, leads; get guest page writers
- Editorial scaffolding
- it’s good to celebrate the contributions of outstanding individuals, but it could get too scattered
- do themes, e.g. “focus on leadership”, and collaborate on articles around that
- Other themes:
- human rights
- social justice
- environmental justice (ewaste is a big issue in the valley)
- youth media
- also good for marketing the project, e.g. once or twice a year get on a human rights listserve and say we’re doing a series on leaders in the human rights movement in the valley, come and post some articles, join the fun in the spirit of collaboration yadda yadda
- down the road (way down) this approach will help you make the project self-sustaining. There are funding dollars for immigration advocacy, youth media. Sponsor an article, sponsor a column, fund awards in ngo work and in communications.
Technical (as re wiki technology & wikimedia)
- Wiki risk – non-profits may be scared that anyone can edit articles about them; vandals could hurt their brand
- Reduce risk of vandalism
- Use authenticated editing - disable anonymous editing
- Rapid response policy – fix within x time; maybe set up the server to text you re suspicious behavior, e.g. more than 3 page edits by one user
- Design is critical
- Come up with a design vision and have someone implement it
- Clean up the pages – get rid of all the geeky wiki stuff like "special pages", move them down one level and just have a “geeky wiki stuff” link on the left side instead
- Non-wikians may get confused by the top tabs (article, discussion, edit etc); maybe have something on the sidebar "what are these things?" with an arrow pointing at them – opportunity to train
- Mediawiki RSS is clunky. Maybe complement with a standalone blog. Use that to announce that an article had been posted, summarize the story. RSS can pickup from the blog.
Marketing & Education are critical
- let people know you exist
- get a "signup" form on every page, above the fold, to get email addresses
- but don’t harvest the email of those who’re just registering to use the site – they’re not necessarily giving you permission to email them
- send email on developments, “new on the Commons”, every 1-2 months
- down the road use html to communicate the updates through email
- Show them how to participate
- Have a really good tutorial on how to edit, how to use the discussion pages
- Pick an article and tell the story of how it was created, edited – narrate the process
- Celebrate your users. Send personal ‘thank you’ notes when they edit something