What’s a Wiki?

hand and globeA blog is web site for a specific person or a specific group to post articles and visitors can comment on them.   In a blog the control of content and value is driven by a single person or small group. A discussion board is used to solicit feedback from others by generating dialogue.   Anyone can post a message and users  can respond to each other.  On a discussion board control of content and value is shared equally across all users.

According to Wikipedia, the world’s largest wiki site:

A Wiki ([ˈwiː.kiː]or [ˈwɪ.kiː]) is a type of website that allows users to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change most content very quickly and easily.

Wiki technology was originally designed for online collaboration among loosely affiliated software developers. Now wikis are comprised of community members who are passionate about subjects ranging from business, education, video games and movies to food, fashion, personal development, and environmental sustainability. Other examples include companies that use wikis for collaborative knowledge building, to solve problems remotely,  and to organize and manage projects through connection with geographically dispersed employees.

The name “Wiki” was inspired by the Hawaiian word wiki or wiki-wiki,  meaning  “quick”.  In 1995 Ward Cunningham, an American developed the first wiki.   He remembered the wiki-wiki shuttle buses that run between terminals at Honolulu International Airport and as he wanted an alternate word for “quick” for his product that would allow for quick, collaborative editing so he chose “wiki”.

Wikis in Plain English

Wetpaint Wikis in Plain English

Free Wikis

Free wikis are available on the internet where you can create your own wiki web projects in minutes.  Many wiki farm companies generate revenue through the insertion of advertisements, but often allow payment of a monthly fee as an alternative to accepting ads.

Wikis are based on the idea that the crowd, collectively, has a greater sum of knowledge than just one individual. That means collaborating with others is the key to creating a successful wiki. Collaboration means you work together to build, design and make decisions on a wiki. No one person owns or rules a wiki. Rather, it is built, supported and owned by all participating community members. — Wikia Community Guidelines

Focused Wikis 

A wiki needs to be about something to be successful. It needs to appeal to a niche that isn’t entirely satisfied elsewhere and its main purpose is to share information.  The important rule of thumb is to establish and understand the goals for your wiki early on and implement it accordingly. —  Wiki Best Practices

18 thoughts on “What’s a Wiki?

  1. Pingback: WordPress.com Forum Options | one cool site

  2. I’ve had problems with copyright infringement from sites using the Wiki concept to redirect search engine traffic away from the original blog post so they can earn Google AdSense. It has been cutting into my AdSense earnings.

    The current one is Wikinevis.com out of China. The other one is MadHealth.net known as Health News Gate out of the Ukraine.

    Contacting the webmaster of MadHealth has been a waste of time for 11 months. It took putting this issue up on the Google AdSense forum to get his attention – and adding links to his government’s sites in a post about stealing blog content. He has so many people coming at him right now that he finally answered me and took down all my content from his site. The problem is he puts it up on other sites. I got him taken down from Zimbio where he had posted 15,000 articles that were not his in addition to mine. He was over at Page2rss.com and Wikio.com as well. He is one busy scammer stealing traffic and link juice away from sites.

    Wikinevis.com hides behind PrivacyProtect.org and there is no way to contact the webmaster. Wrote PrivacyProtect and they wrote back the equivalent of “forget about it.” Who is this privacy site and are they legitimate?

    Anyway, all bloggers and site owners might want to check out these sites to see if any of your content is sitting over there without your permission like what happened to me.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Wiki concept. I always felt it was originally meant to be “in house” for the tech folks or corporate. But, like anything, a new idea grows and changes – and the crooks out there like to pervert a good idea to their use.

  3. I use wikis in my tech classes to share information and collaborate with students. For my 8th grade Photoshop students, they’ve become their gallery. Love them!

  4. Thanks for the post. I use wikis a fair amount and have brought them into various workgroups, but always struggle with explaining them to the group when we’re in our forming/storming phases until it’s built out. Your post will help.

  5. Very interesting!
    I had no idea that anybody could start a wiki; my knowledge of wiki’s is limited to using wikipedia as an information resource. Hehe…
    Thanks for the informative post. Now I’m quite keen to start a wiki or even join an existing wiki to share information. Very cool idea:)

  6. Wikis are also great for internal use within an organisation. You can build an internal Wiki for markets/sectors of interest and it can be an invaluable resource. It can be especially useful for building knowledge on an ongoing basis and for reducing the duplication of work already carried out by someone else. Stick it on the Wiki so others can use and/or add to it.

  7. I don’t hear/read much about public wikis anymore. People just run over to Wikipedia as the ultimate refrigerator for all sorts of goodies, snacks and meaty stuff –regardless of whether it’s the right/safe food.

    Sorry for these food analogies. :)

    • Wikipedia is highly visible but I assure you that there are many, many more wikis. If you are working on a project that requires collaboration that’s what they are designed for. I wouldn’t hesitate to use wiki technology for group projects.

  8. cool! yet again you have exposed me to a completely new concept. Thanks. That wet paint video realy explained it well as well as the other video. Im a visual learner so I especialy loved those videos.

  9. Excellent. I’d heard the term, of course, and had the general idea, but it was very interesting to learn about the origin of the word and how wikis got started. Many thanks!

    • Hi Mark,
      What prompted this post was answering questions on the forum. Some who post to the forum ask questions about blogs and when they expand on what they are looking for it becomes obvious that what they want is not a blog or a discussion board but a wiki.

  10. Very interesting….I never knew the origin of the name. Once again, a great blog post. You – and your posts, comments, etc – have been invaluable. Thank You.

    • I’m answering forum questions lately from people who are confused about what blogs are for. When they describe what they want to acomplish they are frequently describing wikis without knowing that. The history of wiki development is an interesting history. The whole idea of all members being able to add and edit material and build a knowledge base is quite different than what Discussion boards and Blogs are structured to do.

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