An amusing amount of "w's in this title. Here we explore why people write in Wikipedia and in more general the motivations for writing in the new wiki we seek to create for The Decentralised, Permanent Web.
# We don't
A first thing to note, is that we don't. Very few people write in wiki, many try. Most fail. Blogs and forums and chat groups are by far the more successful collaborative writing media.
On the other hand only wiki has succeeded in creating aggregations of organised knowledge, rather than simple searchable archives of individual comment.
We should pay attention to the fail, and note the amount (and direction) of effort required to succeed. Wiki's succeed when sufficient directed effort is invested into the social aspects of the conversation around the content. Wiki is a culture supported by minimal tooling.
Here we should investigate in depth the motivations of Wikipedians - not just what they say, but what they dream of and wont tell us.
# Lost Context
Authors get lost in wiki. They write and loose their context. They forget where they were. They cannot find their work. When writing a document the author never has this problem. A blog post is always there. To fix this problem is not simply to fix a problem, it is to provide new magic.
Page Context is magic. You can see the structure of your document, and the concepts that surround it. You no longer feel your writing, your brain child, to be alone. You explore.
You come across freinds, enemies, arguments. You meet people and ideas. The better you write, the more detail and context you provide, the better your chance of connecting. The context of your page attracts dialogue partners. You are Motivated.
# See also