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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 all 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

  • Each wiki engine tends to have its own markup language.
    • Creole: an attempt to create a standard markup language for wikis.
  • Central features of a wiki writing system: (from Wiki: What Is Wiki)
    • supports hyperlinks
    • has simple text syntax
      • for creating new pages
      • for creating crosslinks between internal pages

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 wikis also 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–meaning anyone can edit pages
  • closed–meaning you must have an account to edit the wiki
  • private–meaning you must have an account to view the wiki

Ways to get a wiki of your own

It is easy to create your own wiki.

You generally have 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

Popular hosted wiki services include:

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

Some popular and/or easy to install wiki engines include:



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.1363039810.txt.gz · Last modified: 2013/03/11 22:10 by mithat