You picked something that is very hard to build: a wiki. The to-date biggest wiki-like site we know is Wikipedia. It shows the very basic principles of a wiki:
- A wiki is a site for information sharing and collecting.
- It's supposed to be based on scientific or generally accepted facts rather than opinions (oftentimes the line blurs).
- Its information sharing is based on the power of the users as experts as well as amateurs are invited to share and edit information.
- It favors collecting information instead of connecting users.
With that knowing, we can start to work out a solution to begin a wiki from its roots and this might prove very hard depending on your goals and the topic it is supposed to be about.
As stated beforehand, the main purpose of a wiki is to collect information. If you search the wiki for a term, you want it to answer your request in order to satisfy your information "lust". If you find the desired information, it's all good, if not, you are forced to leave the wiki and use a search engine to eventually find the information somewhere else, for example another wiki. This is what you want to avoid.
The biggest problem is to bring together people to create content for your wiki. This is and should be your priority one objective. They don't need to be experts, it's okay if they are amateurs because a wiki is built onto the principle of participation. You see something that needs to be corrected and you are not only allowed to do so but also highly encouraged. This is good as you don't need to have too high expectations of your first users. (At least, they should be able to write properly.) The bigger problem is to actually bring together the people.
While a wiki can connect people who are experts in their field, this is not the primary use of the wiki but rather a very positive side effect. As stated before, information sharing and collecting is the objective of a wiki and this is very tedious work. You need to take a deep dive into a topic, need to read articles, books or journals and need to understand basic elements of it before you are able to adequately write about it. This is a very high toll to take in order to only lightly participate in a wiki. As a wiki is public available, so is the information you share. This results in a significant reluctance from your users as writing something that is not true or generally accepted results in a bad public exposure and the disappointment of people who wish to inform themselves.
And here comes your desired topic, Worldbuilding, into play. This topic actually makes it very hard to create a wiki with. Fundamental questions here are:
- When is one an expert in this topic? If he has created one extraordinary world or several small but very established ones? Very hard to differentiate between amateurs and experts.
- What is "true"? Right, nothing!
- Are we talking about facts? No, it's opinions and imagination.
You see that this actually is pretty much a contradict to a wiki. Worldbuilding is the process of creating imaginary worlds and settings, meaning that very creative people are very successful and not creative ones are not. But right now, there is no scala to measure one's creativity accurately. This means that you can't distinguish between amateurs and experts, you can only differentiate between users and established users. Established users are those whose ideas are the most accepted ones.
Yes, you read right. There is no true or wrong in Worldbuilding. You build something from imagination. This results in problems creating content for a wiki as usually it's build to provide latest proven information. Yet, Worldbuilding is not about proving but rather about creating and sharing a vision of a set. And the sets that are liked the most are the ones that are most established and accepted. This results in a potential way of creating content.
In a "normal" wiki, you can write about anything as long as it's true (meaning scientifically proven) or generally accepted. Even though if something isn't generally accepted but true, you can write about it. Usually it then becomes controversial as it is proven to be true on the one side, nevertheless on the other side believed to be wrong by a lot of users. And as we all know is controversial content the content that brings the most attention. This whole process doesn't exist in a Worldbuilding wiki. Nothing there is true or wrong, all is opinion, meaning that everyone who agrees with you likes your opinion and everyone who does not dislikes your opinion.
This is a huge backslash for creating such a community. Imagine very ambitious users who are very keen to participate in your community. Now they write about their world "EFO-375", a world set in a distant future. They like it a lot and so do other users. They collaborate and it becomes a quite lengthy site describing EFO-375. Now other users join it, yet somehow there is the notion that the idea is pretty much crap and needs to be elaborated quite a bit. So a big mass of users (but not a few users in particular) change the idea to something that is perceived very crafty and handy. The result of this is that EFO-375 now is not a world set in the distant future now but in the near future. The original writer and creators, the ones with original idea, are now very disappointed as EFO-375 now is not anymore that what it was supposed to be. They leave your site in the fear of being disappointed again and you lose a hand full of very ambitious creators. If this happens oftentimes, you soon lose a lot of ambitious users (these who are the most hardworking) and soon your content growth will stop.
The only way to counter this is to establish a set of rules so that everyone can have a small sandbox where he can write about everything he likes. Yet, this compromises the whole idea of a wiki as a small sandbox is assigned to everyone and nobody is sharing and collaborating anymore. There needs to be a middleway to protect ambitious users and to align the popular belief of art with the work of the ambitious users. (Yes, there is also quite a big portion of users who are ambitious and are able to produce something that is generally accepted from the very beginning. Nonetheless, oftentimes these users are already established somewhere else or have already begun to do their own thing, like writing a book.)
A way is to allow non-destructive information sharing. Instead of revising the latest branch of the set, you add another way of explaining the set and create a table of contents for all the possible ways to explain the set. The most populous ones can be shown more offensively. This way, you can encourage a lot of ambitious writers but minimize the risk of losing them all. (You can't possibly retain every ambitious writer.) Don't forget that this might incite some complains as this is not how a wiki would usually function. In a "normal" wiki only the latest and most true or generally accepted information is shared.
To build an active and growing wiki, you need to get content and grab some users who write the content. To bind these users to your wiki, it's recommendable to create something that is very unique to your wiki, for example monthly events or awards for the most creative ideas of Worldbuilding. Wiki software usually has basic social features but lacks at some advanced and sophisticated features which might make you think about creating a second platform for your users to solely communicate and interact with each other. This could be a forum, a chat, group chats or an IRC chat channel.
This way you can't only bind one sole user to your site but also bind the users among each other, resulting in the development of a social aspect of your wiki. Doing so provides you with a userbase that knows each other and is able to help out. Nevertheless, this also means that if one user is not satisfied, this could easily spark a fire.
Concluding, it's generally not easy to build a wiki from zero and it's even more hard if it has a topic that is hard to define or that has very few ways to differentiate between "good" and "bad" content. By creating a way to share information non-destructively, you can gain and keep users. Connecting them by providing a social network behind the wiki can bring forward your idea as the community grows and grows and so does the number of users and your content. Benefiting from events and extraordinary generally accepted content placed on the main page, you have a site that's worth to visit and to stay on. That makes your place cozy and warm for those who love creating worlds and sets.