Wiki Facilitation, as used here, means a way to have a person operate as a guide to a conversation held on wiki.

This page was inspired by Lynnwood Brown’s.

Lynnwood Brown's expression

WikiFacilitation, as he describes it, is a strategy for attacking ReworkingProblems. (Like AttackTheDocumentMode.)

She argues:

She gives some ideas on what exactly that may look like.

See Also


I am impressed by the ideas, and inspired by them.

I think we have to adapt them a bit to work here, though.

I would focus on the idea of the facilitator. For some inspiration, there’s this picture on his front page:

(I believe she wouldn’t mind.)

Ignore the GraphicFacilitation? / VisualLanguage aspect for the moment- InkscapeToOddmuse and OddmuseToInkscape aren’t quite convenient enough yet.

Trying It Out Here

So, doing facilitation here might be:

  • When we have a conversation we care about, we (casually) nominate someone to be facilitator.
  • Facilitator is trusted to maintain DocumentMode text.
  • Facilitator articulates topic.
  • Facilitator maintains DocumentMode text.
    • likely an outline, loose description, maybe even SVG summary (GraphicFacilitation?)
  • Facilitator is mostly uninvolved in discussion, at least while functioning as facilitator.
  • Facilitator needs to be present, i.e. there every day.
  • Facilitator needs to be attentive to all voices.
  • Facilitator maintains focus, discourages off-topic discussion.
  • Facilitator works to draw out points. (Perhaps someone is shy.)
  • Facilitator confirms that he or she understands what is said.

It’s tough to say whether this could work here or not.

Doom Scenarios

  • Feeling forced to be focused, when we’d rather not.
  • Choosing some subject to be facilitated, “just to try it out.”
  • Never facilitating a subject, because we feel inadequate trying.


Perhaps it should be considered as an InterCommunityCooperation type thing:

  • Recognizing a point of interest between communities, gather people together to work with a facilitator.
  • Huddle together on a wiki (HubAndSpokeWikis, anybody?) and discuss the topic there.

We can consider the facilitator as a DM (DungeonMaster,) but for a collaborative conversation that isn’t about strategizing to kill a bunch of monsters, and where the facilitator isn’t out to kill your characters.

I can imagine gathering people interested in WikiMetaData schemes together to talk about how to do it, and stuff like that, under a focused coordinator.


Traditional conversation facilitators focus on things like making sure people take turns in the right order. There are various hand signs that are used (hand in the air (new idea), finger in the air (urgent response), fingers shaking in front (sympathy).) There are turn-taking strategies.

Most of these things have to do with synchronous communications.

Since we’re asynchronous, those things don’t mean so much.

Still, there is the problem of soft voices (reads: short comments, rather than long) being ignored. A wiki facilitator can greatly help by asking probing questions of soft voices offering alternative perspectives, and giving “shut up” nudges to loud (reads: long comments, like my own) perspectives that are all too easy to hear.

A facilitator can say: “Sorry, that’s just not within the boundaries of acceptable debate for this particular forum.” Since the community has pre-entrusted the facilitator as the authority for the conversation, you don’t have the problem of the communitie’s authority: You already designated the bouncer. (Meatball link?)

So, in summary, the facilitator…:

  • Drops the role of synchronous communications traffic cop.
  • Keeps the role of conversation maintainer. (“Soften the loud, amp the quiet, and bounce the jerks.”)
  • Gains the role of minutes-keeper, GraphicRecorder?, and/or DocumentMode maintainer.


Perhaps a super-lite version of it would be this:

When you are introducing a topic, you say something like:

 WikiFacilitator: ???
 = Discussion =
 [new:LionKimbro:2005-04-22 07:21 UTC]
 I had the most amazing idea in the entire world, it goes like this:
 ...(blah blah blah HiveMind blah blah blah Wiki blah blah blah)...

Then, somebody who takes an interest can write their name into WikiFacilitator?. Or, if the writer has someone in mind, they can just write the name of that person into the slot. Or maybe we take turns being the facilitator for the month. Or, I don’t know: Whatever. Figure out a way. Something low-cost. Maybe roll dice or something.

Then, the WikiFacilitator? is in charge of the DocumentMode text. That person is tasked with fairness and presence, and perhaps even keeping the conversation on-topic a little bit. (no small charge.)

The basic idea, I guess, is this: If someone is tasked with the DocumentMode, then they’re more likely to work it.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but myself, personally, I don’t like working DocumentMode text. And it’s not because I don’t want to- it’s because I feel an uncertainty of authority. It is a bold thing to say: “This is what you said.” If we have clear lines of authority, we may actually have someone exercise it, rather than no one. And we can do it with the expectation that it’s the authorities job to make mistakes. That is: We recognize that people are going to misunderstand and misrepresent other people’s words, and the job of the facilitator is to be the sacrificial lamb and make those mistakes. We just need to be nice, and correct the facilitator when the facilitator is wrong. This can be very beneficial because it allows us to, in a dispassionate and ritualized way, come to a clear understanding of what is meant.

Without facilitation:

DavidCary: Yes, but we need jargon.

Lion: ARRRGH! I’ve said a billion times, PlainTalk doesn’t mean no Jargon!

DavidCary: . o O ( Man, Lion’s kinda creepy! )

With facilitation:

DavidCary: Yes, but we need jargon.


Facilitator: So, Lion, I need to put this in the DocumentMode, but I don’t understand what you mean: You’re saying you can have plain language, but also include jargon? Can you explain this apparent contradiction for us?

(Facilitator writes: “* Tension point: PlainTalk seems to be able to include jargon, but we don’t all understand how this could be right now.”)

That is, my personal experiences with facilitated conversations is that they are much better at maintaining focus, keeping passions down, and finishing with usable artifacts. In most meetings, this means a list of actions to perform, and a bunch of addresses and phone numbers. Here, this would mean (I believe) a list of actions to perform, and a bunch of DocumentMode text. (Or, at least, an outline.)

I see this through the prism of WikiDrama - two issues :

  • The WikiFacilitator? could be a dramatic identity / drama character (not exactly the same thing, but the later is for now mostly hypothetical) - anybody could use him, but would need to talk as a WikiFacilitator?
  • If people are queasy about attacking the document mode, about who said what, WikiDrama can be a solution. (Er, I tried to rework a discussion on PlainTalk / PainfulTalk into a WikiDrama on PlainTalkDrama, but reworking a fossilized conversation is a lot of work …

… but these issues aren’t directly related - WikiFacilitation is a different process. Having one person responsible rather than a mask is a good thing. I guess what I mean is that WikiDrama may be able to do something similar … (plus, WikiFacilitation is, well, simpler)

Totally and Utterly Tangential

On a very tangential note: In my notebook system, I discovered the exact same thing he noted about people, except the target wasn’t groups of people interacting. Rather: an individual thinking things through within their own head.

That is: He says that, when a group of people get together, there is a regular structure that is attended: Ideas are discussed, some set of ideas is expanded out and people look at all the options, then they are pieced together and choices are made, and then the group goes on to a new situation.

Search for manufacture Knowledge and Wisdom, examine the diagram, then read on from there. (Too bad we can’t hyperlink to a search-pattern.)

This would make a neat wiki page: ThoughtExpansionContraction?.

I wonder: Is there a direct relation, by CyberNetic? theory, between ThoughtExpansionContraction?, and Buckminster Fuller’s observation that “things get big, before they get small?” (Think of computers.) I feel that compilers are a similar example: We construct a large scale model of the machine, and then compile it down to a very small scale. (A running version of the large-scale model is an interpreter.)

Perhaps this is a general quality of cybernetic systems.


Define external redirect: GraphicRecorder GraphicFacilitation ThoughtExpansionContraction WikiFacilitationLite CyberNetic WikiFacilitator

EditNearLinks: DocumentMode ReworkingProblems DungeonMaster