What is a Wiki?

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What is a Wiki?

A wiki is a web-based tool that allows people to easily add, modify, or delete the content of a web page simply by using a web browser.

In public wikis such as Wikipedia, users don't even need a user account to make changes to a page that other people have created or edited before. Have you ever updated a Wikepedia page yourself? You should definitely try!

Wikis use specialized wiki software and are often created in a very collaborative environment. The content is typically non-linear. In order to find relevant content, the search function becomes very important. There are, however, many ways to organize a wiki so that users can navigate to content without relying only on the search function of their wiki.

Meaning of the word "wiki"

„Wikiwiki“ is Hawaiian and means „quick“. It describes the idea of creating and sharing content easily and very quickly.

History

ward cunningham
W. Cunningham

The first wiki (named WikiWikiWeb) was invented by Ward Cunningham in 1995.

Cunningham became impatient with existing text processing programs and was looking for a new documentation system that was adapted to fit the needs of programmers. He wanted to develop a simple software that would allow programmers to work collaboratively on source code and to publish it immediately. Also, the new program should document all editing steps automatically to track all changes that have been made. In the end, the first wiki was put online and is still working.

Wikis are still a popular technology and have become very mature and feature-rich, so that they are a great tool for companies and other interests group alike to collaborate on information of any kind.

Basic functions

If you click on the edit link (or sometimes button) that you can find on every wiki page, the editing window opens. All changes you make will be applied to the page and recorded in the version history of the page. Important principles of working in a wiki:

Editing

Everyone should be able to edit a page, unless important access restrictions are necessary. Simply click on "edit" to be a wiki author.

Linking

To make it easy for users to find related information, it is very easy to insert links anywhere in the wiki, even to a page that does not yet exist!

WikiWord (CamelCase)

CamelCase or medial capitals is the practice of contracting multiple words into a single word by starting each word with a capital letter (such as PowerPoint or eBay, or BlueSpice, as a matter of fact). If you want to see more examples, just take a look at all of the Mediawiki extensions.

History

With the history function, it is possible to trace every change that anyone has ever made to a page.

RecentChanges

This function lists recent changes in the wiki. It can quickly show what content updates have been made in the last days.

Some public wikis

There are large and small wiki communities that use MediaWiki to collaborate. Some examples:

Literature

  • Ebersbach, Anja, Glaser, Markus und Heigl, Richard (2007): Wiki. Kooperation im Web, 2. Aufl., Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • Lange, Christoph (Hrsg.) (2006): Wikis und Blogs - Planen, Einrichten, Verwalten, Computer- und Literaturverlag.
  • Leuf, Bo und Cunningham, Ward (2001): The Wiki Way. Quick Collaboration on the Web, Addison Wesley: Boston u. a.

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