Blogs, Wikis, Discussion Forums, Email, RSS Feed Reader – the differences – part 1

In my view, all the web 2.0 techniques are a tremendous help in any KM strategy. A colleague recently asked me the difference between discussion forums and blogs.  I expanded the question to include rss feed readers, email and wikis. We rolled out an internal blogs initiative and within 7 months it has reached 1million page views per month (covered by Economic Times’s Corporate Dossier supplement on Friday Mar 16, 2007). We also have discussion forums which are quite popular as well but not nearly as popular as the Blogs. We have Wikis as well but they are even less popular than the forums. I have been thinking about the differences in popularity and wanted to see if I could provide some theory behind this and I would welcome thoughts from readers. Let us first consider the blogs vs. Forums question and then extrapolate that to the others. Here is how I see this: When you access a forum, you’re going to it to see if there are any questions you could answer or to see if someone has answered a question you have posted or simply to post another question that you have. You rarely go to the forum just to read all the questions and answers. Whereas when you goto the blogging system, you actually go with the mindset of reading the blogs and since no one is a very prolific poster, you goto the blogs to post many number of times less than you are going there to read. Due to this reason, the page views increases and because every blogger can track their own page views, it gives the feedback to the blogger that his/her posts are being liked. In addition some of the readers post comments which further increases  the blogger’s morale and leads them to post more. This whole thing is a virtuous cycle contributing to increasing number of page views and posts. Of course, not so good bloggers don’t receive that much page views or comments and slowly stop blogging. From a KM perspective this facet of going to the blogs with a reading mindset is an enormous advantage. What do you see as the other differences between blogs and discussion forums?


1. Rod Boothby explains insightfully, why email is not that useful compared to blogs/wikis and how you can link them up both to create more value.


  1. Anonymous said March 19, 2007, 9:01 am:

    I think blogs also help in personal branding unlike forums where the entries might soon be pushed into the hinterland. There is also an association that gets established with the blogger once you visit the page a couple of times, prompting you to go back and see ‘wht’s new ?’ .That would naturally increase page views.

  2. Anonymous said March 19, 2007, 9:58 am:

    The most obvious difference I’ve found is that while forums may be for a specific purpose on a specific topic, the blogs are more about the views of an individual on varied subjects.

  3. Anonymous said March 19, 2007, 10:05 am:

    Interesting point Ranjit. some people are calling the blogs the new electronic bonding medium because as you correctly point out it does increase the personal connection you feel with the blogger.

  4. Anonymous said March 19, 2007, 10:09 am:

    Good one Mahesh. Sharing Views vs. Sharing a Purpose. But in the case of theme blogs, they do have a specific purpose and focus towards sharing ideas and views in a particular area. In general i guess the difference that you point out does seem to exist between blogs and forums.

  5. Anonymous said March 20, 2007, 12:35 pm:

    Actually if you want people to find information quickly, then you should offer a great central search functionality that will index all internal blogs and disc. boars and provide Google quality results. GOOG has a search appliance for use inside the firewall.

    But to find this information, you need to build up a community that will create all this content that can be searched. There is no silver bullet here. It is better to offer choices – hosted wikis, blogs and disc boards. Different people prefer different way to communicate and you need to support all these.

    Disc boards – Good for a specific PROBLEMS. Will be used by all people interested in that topic. Barrier to entry – Low.

    Wikis – Good for specific TOPICS. Will be used by people interested in the topic. Barrier to entry – high (Somebody has to get a good first draft on a particular topic going before others chip in. Requires some writing skill to integrate your content into an existing page)

    Blogs – More personal brands for people to express their own VIEW POINTS. Barrier to entry – high

    When you offer all three, there will be general cross linking between all 3 media

  6. Anonymous said March 21, 2007, 2:13 am:

    Great points Arun. Enterprise Search is a big thing. We are using Sharepoint’s crawler/search. I like your barrier to entry categorization. In my view though, atleast inside the firewall barrier to entry for blogs is LOW. But then i think like external blogs, barrier to sustenance is high because you have to keep your blog updated. I am happy that the 3 of you have contributed some great points. Well done and thanks for stopping by.

  7. Anonymous said March 27, 2007, 4:34 pm:

    Good one Sukumar. Our Ch1 blogging system really created a giant wave in the ocean. It is great to see so many ideas floating, validated, challenged and provoking thinking process and ultimately innovation. All in Cognizant style…

  8. Anonymous said March 28, 2007, 8:48 am:

    Thanks Vamsi. Ch1 blogs has really made a big change in the way we collaborate.

  9. Anonymous said April 10, 2007, 2:55 pm:

    I made a presentation recently at the Microsoft Software Architect Forum about social networking and “web 2.0” in the enterprise. Would be glad to discuss this with you – had a lot of the points you mentioned, only I have a very diverse view of this.

  10. Anonymous said April 11, 2007, 3:01 am:

    Thanks Pandurang. There is a part 2 of this post where i have a more detailed tabulation of the comments i received. It will be great if you can add to the conversation here unless what you have in mind is proprietary stuff.