In short interviews with our employees we illuminate aspects and questions of our daily work with BlueSpice and our customers. Today’s topic: rights management. An interview with Florian Bäckmann, responsible for technical support at Hallo Welt! GmbH.
Florian, wikis are essentially open and transparent. Why suddenly assign rights?
That’s right. Actually, wikis build on the “wisdom of the crowd” and are virtual common property. Basically everyone participates and the contents are mostly public. With our Wiki BlueSpice, however, we serve corporate customers in the enterprise segment. In this context rights management is a key issue when it comes to run a web-platform like an enterprise-wiki.
But shouldn’t a wiki be used to break up “knowledge silos” and store company knowledge centrally?
Absolutely. But central isn’t always central. Our customers usually know where the bottlenecks and pitfalls lie when accessing a company-wide knowledge database. Between the two concepts “everyone may do everything” and “everything lies with one or a few employees” there is a large playground, which we serve with our permission manager.
Could you explain that in more detail?
Sure. On the content level individual rights are often required for departments, work groups or project teams, for example for changing articles. Another example: the management usually requires separate areas (namespaces) which are safeguarded with a privacy screen. After all, sensitive information is exchanged here. On top of that, if a corporate Wiki is public or partially public, sophisticated regulations are usually necessary to prevent misuse. And then there is the technical-functional level: Imagine every wiki user would have admin rights, being able to change central settings. Chaos would be preprogrammed. That’s why there are extended rights for appropriately qualified employees or IT administrators.
With BlueSpice 3 the assignment of rights has been revised. Why?
It turned out that the assignment of rights in BlueSpice 2 was not very intuitive and too complex for many customers. Since almost every function in the Wiki is associated with a right, at that time more than 200 individual rights could be assigned individually. With the launch of BlueSpice 3, we introduced the so-called role system. The main goal was to significantly simplify the assignment of rights. Talking of complicated: While MediaWiki uses a file on the server to assign rights, BlueSpice offers a graphic interface that allows rights to be assigned or adjusted quickly and easily by setting a few checkmarks.
Sounds good to me. But how exactly does the assignment of rights work?
The first step is to distinguish between users, groups, roles and rights. Furthermore, a basic distinction is made between anonymous wiki visitors without an account and registered wiki users with an account. First, a group already existing in the system or created by the customer himself is linked to individual Wiki users, usually employees. In other words: employees are assigned to a group.
With the help of “roles” the groups are then equipped with “rights packages”. Individual roles bundle numerous individual rights under one meaningful roof. The rights can be assigned wiki-wide or for individual namespaces (e.g. different rights for employees in different departments of the company).
Typical roles are:
- readers: are allowed to read and comment on content
- editors: as above, may additionally edit content
- reviewers: as above, may additionally release content
- administrators: as above, are allowed to make additional settings on the Wiki
OK, got it. So it’s not quite trivial to set up a rights management system, is it?
You’re right. Since the assignment of rights plays a central role in many companies, special attention should be paid to planning and configuration. Even though a Wiki is essentially an open and transparent application, many companies have legal requirements and internal policies that make access restrictions necessary. This applies to reading, but above all to changing information.
How do you ensure that the rights system is set up properly?
We offer our customers the “rights management workshop”. In common we analyze and specify the individual rights-setup of the company wiki, granting group-, read- and write-rights or the right to delete pages. The results of the workshop are systematically documented in a rights matrix. After that the customer wiki is configured according to the specifications by our IT experts. After all, we want our customers to start with a wiki that exactly meets their expectations. Rights management included.
Let’s Wiki together!
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Author: David Schweiger