Here are some tips for people starting new regions:
- Start anywhere - it really doesn't matter where: This may seem counterintuitive, but there is no right place to start. You may think that you have to start by making sure that there are entries for Important Things in the Community ("Town Hall," etc.), but building a LocalWiki is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Everything will eventually get filled in, and there is no shortage of people who are interested in the important things, so just wait and the people who are into those things will eventually come along and fill them in. In Davis, CA, it was almost 5 years before the wiki really took off, so there's no need to hurry. Everything will eventually get filled in. Trust us - nothing bad will happen if there's no entry for Town Hall.
- Have fun with the project and write as if you were writing to a friend (i.e., informal tone is welcome and encouraged!): So if there's no right place to start, how do I know what to write about? Have fun with the project and write about whatever you like as if you were telling a friend about it. If someone was visiting you and asked "what's your neighborhood like?" You might say "it's mostly residential, lots of trees, not much foot traffic, but it's great because it's really accessible by public transit and there are three parks within walking distance." That's perfect LocalWiki content. :) LocalWiki is not Wikipedia and you do not have to write something definitive about a topic. Write about what you know and what you think other people might find interesting, even if (especially if) it's things like "there's a big statue in the courtyard and a native flower garden underneath it." If you'd like more ideas, see interesting entries from across the LocalWiki network for inspiration and check out our content-building guide (fun activities and ideas for building content).
- Wait you mean I can write anything?: Yes. You can write about whatever you like about your community! What have you always wanted to tell people about your neighborhood? What are the great things about your city that you wish other people knew about? Whatever you add doesn't have to be rocket science and it doesn't have to be THE definitive information about a particular topic. Consider yourself granted the permission to write about any topic whatsoever. The world is your oyster!
- Do what you like: Add information about the things that you're motivated to write about, the things you love in your community, the things you wish other people knew and that you wish you knew when you first learned about them, and the things you're passionate about. Once you start having fun and writing whatever you want about whatever you like, the entries will flow like a river. Destroying our internal censors that tell us that something isn't definitive enough, or well-researched enough, or not serious enough, is the path to LocalWiki success and having fun (because this is fun!).
- Just do it: Don't worry about getting it right or having it be complete. At the beginning, the bigger risk is that you don't create anything at all rather than creating something and messing it up. If you mess it up, you can always revert it and fix it. And it's okay if you don't get everything perfect or don't write the complete or "definitive" story. Because this is a marathon, everything will eventually get fixed, cleaned, and completed, so don't worry too much about it looking rough. You can include questions directly on the entry. You can even quit halfway and write "more to come later..." You can indicate areas where you're not sure. And you can indicate things that you hope other people will fill in ("This entry can benefit from the history of this topic!") In fact, in many instances, if you indicate areas where you're not sure or areas where you would like more information, other people will come in and fill it in for you.
- Write about what you know: You may want to start writing about an "Important Topic," but if this topic is something you know very little about, you may get stuck in a mode where you're always researching and never writing (making you stressed out and negating rule #2: Have fun). This is why it can be more helpful to write about things you already know about, even if they might not seem "important." This is because of rule #1 - start anywhere because this is not a sprint. Finally, the things you know about - the best skateboard paths, good places to collect sea rocks, or local gardening tips - are also really important and interesting! You find them interesting, so share what you find interesting about them on the wiki.
- Don't worry too much about organization and formatting: Everything on the wiki can be rearranged, so don't worry too much about where something should go, what categories you should have, or what order things should be written in. Things can be renamed, moved, categorized, and recategorized at any time. The important thing is to get the content onto the page and then worry about organization. If it doesn't look perfect or would be better placed in a different area, either you or someone else will come clean it up in the future.
- Start by filling in little pieces: If you start out wanting to write about the history of your city, you might become overwhelmed with the task at hand and never start. A better approach is to write little pieces that you already know and see what develops. If you do want to do research, document each little piece you learn along the way and don't wait until you understand the whole story to write it (you might never get around to it!).
Check out this guide from students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about starting a LocalWiki.
Check out this guide from LocalWikians in Oakland with more tips for starting a LocalWiki.