Wikis, BWIN, September 15, 2006

Jessica Baumgart
Friday, September 15, 2006

Presentation as a Wiki

Who am I?

  • News librarian by day, technophile by night
  • Participate in technology group at the Berkman Center
  • Involved with Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects

Raise your hand if you:

  • Know what a wiki is
  • Edit a wiki every now and then
  • Contribute to a wiki regularly
  • Have your own wiki
  • Manage a wiki
  • Have installed a wiki on a server

What’s a Wiki?

  • Specialized Web site allowing easy editing
  • Usually has a visible edit link or button
  • Wiki syntax is somewhat easy to learn, not HTML

Editing a wiki is easy.

[a quick demo of how to edit a wiki]

A Web site anyone can edit?

Isn’t that bad?

If anyone can edit, remember that means anyone can edit.

Anyone Editing is Good.

  • Aids communication, especially among decentralized team members or over time
  • Encourages participation
  • Central repository for information

Anyone Editing is Bad.

  • “Help! I erased everything on the wiki!”
  • Technology comfort level
  • Ownership
  • Wiki spam and vandalism
  • Loss of content control

Some wikis have access controls.
The front page of Wikipedia, for example, does not have an edit tab: Even many registered users cannot edit the page. Only specific trusted individuals within the community have the ability to edit the page.

Caution 1: Storing Information

  • Anyone can edit the wiki
  • Compatibility with other storage formats
  • The right or best tool
  • Wiki spam
  • Vandalism

Caution 2: Using a Wiki as a Source

  • Content can change at any moment
  • Who’s responsible for the content?
  • Credentials?

Wikis Come in Different Colors

  • Different wiki platforms have different functionality
  • Think about what you want or will use the wiki for
  • Desirable features
  • Cost
  • Intranet, Web site, hosted

Different Wikis

Different wiki software

Examples of Wikis

Future of wikis

  • More wikis in use for more things
  • Growth in the business world
  • Change people’s ideas about the Web being static

Future of wiki software

  • More enterprise solutions
  • More features, like XML feeds
  • Easier to use


  • International conference for the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Excellent way to learn what’s happening with their projects
  • Opportunity to network with others interested in wikis

Wikimania 2006

  • Held in Cambridge
  • Brought together many North American contributors
  • Many highlights

Learn More:

Thank you!

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