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What is a wiki?
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What is a wiki?

According to the Wikipedia (external link), a wiki is

"a type of website that allows users to easily add and edit content and is especially suited for collaborative writing. The name is based on the Hawaiian term wiki, meaning 'quick'".

Open-authoring: Using only a Web browser, anyone can quickly and easily create and edit wiki pages

  • Wikis are quick because the processes of reading and editing are combined
  • Wikis are easy because they use simplified hypertext markup

New pages are added simply by creating a link to that page

  • Originally, most wikis used CamelCase (external link) as a link pattern
  • WikiPageTitlesAreMashedTogether
  • If the page that is linked to does not exist, it is typically emphasized as a "broken link"

Wikis can be written in different programming languages All information processing is done on the server side Wikis store content in a database (MediaWiki) and others in in flat files (PmWiki)

  • a system that records each individual change that occurs over time
  • at any time, a page can be reverted to any of its previous states
  • using the diff feature, changes between two revisions can be highlighted
  • most wikis include integrated search mechanisms for locating content

According to Leuf & Cunningham (2001), wikis have two different writing modes, or styles of usage:


contributors carry out discussions in the wiki environment by posting signed messages
others respond leaving the original messages intact and eventually a group of threaded messages evolves


contributors create collaborative documents written in the third person
multiple authors edit and update the content of the document and gradually the content becomes a representation of the shared knowledge or beliefs of the contributors

Refactoring (external link)

converting a thread into a document by finding and making explicit an organizational pattern in the ideas of the ThreadMode exchange

Knowledge on a wiki is created by creating consensus by means of refactoring discussions into documents.

See M.C. Morgan Notes Towards a Rhetoric of Wiki (external link) on the Bemidji State University Wiki

For an animation showing the evolution of a page in the Wikipedia see http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/gems/umlaut.html (external link)




Next: Using Wikis for Collaborative Writing...


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Page last modified on Sunday 26 of November, 2006 06:03:51 CST by admin.

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