Core Wiki concepts

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What Is Wiki? Ward Cunningham

Wiki is in Ward's original description:

The simplest online database that could possibly work.

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.

Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.

Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.

Ward Cunningham's Wiki (Wards Wiki)

This site, WardsWiki, unlike WikiPedia, is a ContentCreationWiki whose focus is PeopleProjectsAndPatterns in SoftwareDevelopment.

The ideas of "Wiki" may seem strange at first, but dive in and explore its links! "Wiki" is a composition system; it's a discussion medium; it's a repository; it's a mail system; it's a tool for collaboration. Really, we don't know quite what it is, but it's a fun way of communicating asynchronously across the network.

The name "Wiki" is strange too - what does it mean? The WikiWikiWebFaq answers this and other questions, but the short answer is that "WikiWiki" is Hawaiian for "quick".

How Wikis Work

Marshall Brain, HowStuffWorks

Inside this article:

Introduction to How Wikis Work
Understanding Wikipedia
Wiki Communities
Vandalism and Edit Wars
Lots More Information
See all Community & Social Networking articles

Wikis are growing because, at their core, they are about as simple as can be. That simplicity means that people find them easy to use, just like e-mail and blogs. Like e-mail and blogs, wikis also perform a very useful service in a simple way. A wiki allows a group of people to enter and communally edit bits of text. These bits of text can be viewed and edited by anyone who visits the wiki.

That's it. What it means is that, when you come to a wiki, you are able to read what the wiki's community has written. By clicking an "edit" button on an article, you are able to edit the article's text. You can add or change anything you like in the article you are reading.

video: Wikis in Plain English

presenter: Lee LeFever
organization: CommonCraft
date: 2007
length: 03:52

We made this video because wiki web sites are easy to use, but hard to describe. We hope to turn you on to a better way to plan a camping trip, or create the next Wikipedia.


Wiki video in multiple languages: