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What is a Wiki?

Mithat Konar



  • wiki: “a Web application whose content is collaboratively added, updated, and organized by its users.” (Mitchell)
  • Emphasis in a wiki is on:
    • Letting users create pages quickly.
    • Making it easy to link pages to each other.
  • wiki engine: the program that runs a wiki.
  • wiki markup language: simple text-based system for writing pages.


“Wikis can be dated to 1995, when American computer programmer Ward Cunningham created a new collaborative technology for organizing information on Web sites. Using a Hawaiian term meaning 'quick,' he called this new software WikiWikiWeb.” (Britannica)

Typical wiki features

  • Easy writing
  • Editing history
  • Editing protection

Easy writing

  • Central features of a wiki markup language:
    • simple text syntax for creating new pages
    • simple text syntax for creating crosslinks between internal pages
    • support for hyperlinks
  • Each wiki engine tends to have its own markup language.
    • Creole is an attempt to create a standard markup language for wikis.

Easy writing

  • Sometimes, a toolbar will be provided on the editing screen with icons to insert the most commonly used markup.
  • Sometimes a wiki will supply a WYSIWYG interface for writing pages, similar to what you would find in a word processor.

Editing history

  • Many wiki engines maintain a history of your page editing.
    • Every change you make to a page is kept track of so you can compare the current version to an older one.
    • Especially important in an open wiki in case someone makes some really bad changes–on purpose or by accident.

Editing protection

  • Wikis can be
    • open: anyone can view and edit pages
    • closed: anyone can view pages, you must have an account to edit pages
    • private: you must have an account to view and edit the wiki

Ways to get a wiki of your own

  • It is easy to create your own wiki.
  • Two choices:
    • Use a hosted service.
    • Install a service yourself.

Hosted service

  • There are a number of service providers that let you create a wiki on their servers (often at no cost).
  • Pro:
    • They've done the hard work of setting up the service for you.
  • Cons:
    • Typically will insert advertising into your pages to make money.
    • Many limit the number and/or size of pages in their free offerings.
    • May go out of business–and take your wiki with them!

Hosted service

Self-installed service

  • To install your own wiki service, you will need to have an account with a Web hosting service.
  • Then you can usually install a wiki engine by uploading the needed files or sometimes just enabling an engine in the Web host's control panel.
  • Pro
    • Your wiki will be free from advertising and won't have space and other limitations.
  • Con
    • You may have to fix any problems that come up and make backups yourself.

Self-installed service


Mitchell, Scott. “Easy Wiki Hosting, Scott Hanselman's blog, and Snagging Screens.” MSDN | Microsoft Development, Subscriptions, Resources, and More. Microsoft, Inc., 1 July 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

“Wiki: What Is Wiki.” Wiki: Welcome Visitors. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

“wiki (Web site) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

computer_basics/what_is_a_wiki_slides.txt · Last modified: 2013/03/11 22:25 by mithat