BlankPage is an anti-pattern in which people don’t contribute to a page because it’s empty. People are often reluctant to be the first to edit an empty page because they might be unsure what content should go on it. They may leave the page empty and assume that the person who created it will come back and start adding content at some point.

How do I notice it?

The wiki is being built by a team disconnected from the intended user community. They are making a big investment in both building the framework of the wiki and supplying content, perhaps from old intranet content or procedures manuals. There is no proper engagement with the community, and little contribution from outside the team building the wiki. “Well, management wanted a wiki but everyone was too busy to provide any input, so we are building it anyhow. Then the community can always correct it later if it isn’t right.”

Look for pages that have been created but have no content, and haven’t been updated in several days. A page hasn’t necessarily fallen prey to the empty page anti-pattern if it’s only been empty for a few minutes or several hours, so look for pages that look like they’ve been forgotten.

How do I fix it?

Talk to the people who first created the page, and see if s/he knows that it’s sitting empty. If the person has forgotten about it, this will probably be enough to jog their memory and get them to add some content. You might suggest posting a scaffold at minimum, so that others know what to add to the page.

If you have a good idea what content should go on a page, you might just post a scaffold yourself to get things moving. Since it’s a wiki, anyone can adjust the scaffold as needed.

Related Patterns

  • BarnRaising – a planned event in which a community meets at a designated time to build content on the wiki together and understand how to use the wiki, and feel a sense of buy-in.
  • Champion – Needed to link to the community, understand how to organize content, get others involved.
  • FAQ – Building an FAQ helps people take inventory of what they’re doing and plan what to put on the wiki, thus reducing the chance of having empty pages.
  • Gnome – a Gnome may add a scaffold to an empty page to guide others on what to contribute.
  • Scaffold – creating a Scaffold, or template guides others on what to contribute.