Wiki tools - CPsquare

Wiki tools

From [[ CPsquare]], the community of practice on communities of practice.

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... part of the technology for communities project,
started off by the authors of [Digital Habitats], Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, and John D. Smith.


Definition / description of a Wiki

A Wiki is a special kind of web server that allows its users to freely create and edit Web page content using a Web browser. Wikis support an internal hyperlink system allowing pages to easily be linked together. This allows users to both change content on a page and the overall structure of interlinked pages. Wikis can be set up so that anyone in the world can edit a page or so that only specific people are permitted to read or edit a page (login required and/or password protected). There are a range of wiki applications available, from "the simplest that could possibly work" (which was the original vision and today and may only appeal to the technically inclined user) to versions with conventions familiar to other types of users. Wikis have begun to be integrated with other tools such as blogs and content management systems.

Wikis for Communities of Practice

Wikis are very flexible in that users can both add, change content, add new pages, and change the connections between them. They are useful for collaborative writing and publishing of community materials. Content can easily be accumulated incrementally over time by the addition of new text or pages. They are useful to communities of practice to collect, organize, synthesize and preserve community knowledge. They can also be used in project management, workflow and even discussion when there are agreed-upon community processes for using the wiki. More complex processes may be more difficult to scale-up to larger sized groups.

Wikis are designed to de-emphasize individual authorship, allowing any user to edit any text. In most wikis, changes in the text are linked to a person and a specific time stamp, but the link is "behind the scenes", rather than front and center as is commonly found in discussion boards and blogs. It's the last version that's presented and often the author is not obvious. There are several implications of this approach. One is if there is sensitivity to changing other people's words, agreements and working practices within a community can have a dramatic effect on how well a Wiki serves a community's needs or how it dovetails with other community tools. For example, although the date and author of each page revision is generally available, the information is usually buried so that communities develop conventions for signing some statements with links to personal pages (which may be no different from any other page in that they can be changed by anybody). The second implication is that often communities benefit from a group of people acting as "wiki gardeners" to keep a wiki space organized, linked and tidy.

Finally, because of a reduced emphasis on individual authorship, wikis may also change a group's experience of themselves. The individual presence is less tangible, while "the group" is emphasized by collaborative authorship.

Video intro

Wikis in plain English
Lee Lefever explains what wikis are about

Tool Polarities

Wikis in combination

Wikis can be used as a stand alone community tool, or can be added into a community's mix of tools. The Yi-Tan community blends wikis and weekly telephone calls ( supported with IRC chat. The KM for Development community used a wiki to develop it's first FAQ. The wiki is attached to a larger website with a variety of community tools.


1. Authoring features

2. Reading features

3. Subscription and tracking features

4. Overall site organization

5. integration features

6. misc

User practices

Wiki Resources & Citations

Wiki Providers and services

Personal tools
CPsquare platforms
This wiki