Using Wiki as a Store for Mail, Chats and other Documents

How about using a Wiki as a way to persist your useful maill?I used to use  Microsoft Outlook as my mail client but now mostly use Gmail. Most of the mail I receive can be classified into one of the types:

Directly related to my work. This is the highest priority and probably consumes most of my work day. This include specs, design notes, email based discussions and all the work that used to be paper before and now is transformed into email. This belongs to my worklog.

Request for Information
Requests for information from customers and partners. Normally write up some stuff or reuse existing replies. Would love to take these frequently asked questions and move them out of my email.

Information to Consume
This type of mail does not require immediate attention. It goes into a reading list, to be read at the end of the day or when I have some time away from pressing work. At the end of processing this mail (or a thread in the case of discussion groups) I either end up with a set of reference material or action items. The reference material goes into my wiki.
Other Stuff
These are bills to pay, stuff to do that you cannot escape from, meeting requests and other such trivia. Mostly ends up in a calendar or task list and discarded once completed.
After dealing with each one of these types of email, I would like to keep them away (preferably away from my mail client). One of the ways I am trying to do this is to store them in a Wiki. I use low tech methods – like copy and paste. I use a desktop wiki called moin moin desktop edition (a python based wiki). Most of the time I keep each email message as a wiki page.

Here are some benefits, I find in using the wiki as my mail store:

1. It keeps my outlook data files small. I notice that outlook is faster when you have smaller mail data files.
2. It is much easier to search the wiki than outlook. This may change in future.
3. I can add some comments to the mail page (to remember the context for future references)

4. I can link related items easily. All I need to do is to use some wiki words as tags

5. I actually have a worklog since I post both mail and IM chats to the wiki

6 . In addition to the worklog, I maintain an idealog. So when I get an idea, I need to do a few searches and get a bunch of related pages and mail messages to link to.

7. I have one place where most of the things I want to remember are stored. Makes life simple.

I am seriously thinking of building a couple of utilities (like outlook plug-ins) to automatically post from a specific folder (let us call it wikifolder) into the wiki making this process even simpler.

Even though I used Outlook as an example, you may be able to use any other mail client or wiki engine. If your wiki engine supports postings through email, it may be even simpler to post than copying and pasting.

7 thoughts on “Using Wiki as a Store for Mail, Chats and other Documents”

  1. I note you said you are seriously thinking of building a couple of utilities (like outlook plug-ins) to automatically post from a specific folder (let us call it wikifolder) into a wiki.
    Has anything materialised on this front?
    I am using MediaWiki.


    1. There was not much demand so we have not done much about it. In fact, we use semantic mediawiki for most of our internal communications and as a knowledge base. We use it communicate project status, manage specifications, as way of keeping individual learn logs and project logs.
      I would still like to get the outlook plug-in done some day.

  2. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your content
    seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something
    to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The style and design look great though! Hope you
    get the problem solved soon. Kudos

    1. Thanks. Probably a problem with the theme I am using. May not be tested on IE. In fact, I don’t use IE much at all. Thanks for catching it.

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