What’s wrong with Microsoft Teams built-in wiki? Five built-in wiki limitations that you should know

Published on May 25, 2021 by Ilia P

In this post, I’ll review five common issues that face companies trying to adopt built-in Microsoft teams wiki as their internal knowledge base. If you are currently trying to adopt a built-in wiki in your company, then this post is a must-read for you. It’ll prevent you from making mistakes that others have made. This post is inspired by Vesa Nopanen’s post “Don’t use Teams wiki” [1].

Five built-in wiki limitations that you should know

#1. You can import data to built-in wiki only in a manual way one-by-one

Many companies already have some data that should be placed into the internal knowledge base; typically, it’s a set of Word documents or several Html pages. You can’t import that data to a built-in wiki automatically; the only possible way to do it is via copy-n-paste from a Word document or browser window. This limitation also corresponds to copying wiki data between channels. Once you add wiki to a channel in Microsoft Teams, you can’t move it or copy its content. For each channel, you should start from a blank wiki page (you can’t create page templates). It’s very annoying as it requires a lot of routine manual work to populate wiki with carefully created content.

#2. Wiki content can be modified or destroyed by anyone in your company

Unfortunately, the built-in wiki doesn’t have any role-based access system. Even a properly configured access policy in Sharepoint for the “wiki data” folder won’t help you. Anyone in your company can read and modify wiki data. Even worse, anyone can accidentally delete the wiki tab with all wiki pages, and you won’t be able to restore it. This limitation applies to individual wiki pages or sections as well. You won’t find the page’s version history, nor can you revert the page to a previous state after someone spoils the content. The last point is extremely painful for teachers that use a built-in wiki for proper communication with their students.

#3. Built-in wiki doesn’t have full-text search

“Not being able to search Teams built-in Wikis disqualifies its use case for storing and sharing knowledge” - it’s a quote from a user who was very upset after he spent several days uploading all the data to the built-in wiki [2]. In the modern world, instant search is a must-have feature for any wiki solutions; however built-in wiki lacks this feature. There is a hacky workaround to make wiki files searchable, but I doubt you will use it daily.

#4. You can’t export wiki pages to PDF or print it

Common use-case for a wiki page is to share its content with other users. For example, you want to print a wiki page and use it during meetings. It was a surprise for hundreds of other users and me, but the built-in wiki doesn’t have this feature [2]. A most common workaround is to copy wiki page content to Word or any other text editor and then print. Still, you’ll have issues with formatting, especially if your wiki page has images and other non-trivial content like tables or lists. If you need to print more than one wiki page, then it’s better to export all wiki data to .mht and print it one by one, avoiding unnecessary manual work (fortunately, there is a good guide on how to export built-in wiki data).

#5. Built-in wiki editor lacks important features

Last but not least, the built-in wiki editor lacks some standard features that you expect to see in any wiki solution. You can’t insert to-do lists either code snippets. Video embeddings from Youtube or Vimeo that are super useful today are not supported either. The table of contents is generated by section names, and it does not take headings into account. Markdown formatting that a lot of software engineers prefer isn’t supported at all.

What should you use instead of Microsoft Teams built-in wiki?

Recently we profoundly and objectively reviewed all available wiki solutions for Microsoft Teams. Results of this research you can read in our blog post “Best Wiki Apps for Microsoft Teams in 2021”. I hope it’ll help you to find the best wiki solution for your use case.

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