Why Wiki

Why are wiki sites a “good thing”?

Easy site creation and maintenance

  • Wiki sites don’t require costly software for website creation. Once a site is set up, pages can be created and edited using any web browser from anywhere.
  • They allow people with no programming experience to add content to web pages and manage their own sites for free, which helps individuals or small businesses on a tight budget to maintain a web presence.

Wikis are an excellent tool for collaborative writing

  • Wikis help people who are in different physical locations collaborate on projects. This saves travel time and expense, and conserves fossil fuel energy, which is good for the earth.
  • They make it possible for people in different time zones to add content whenever it is convenient, allowing collaboration to continue when meeting times are difficult to schedule.
  • On a wiki site, everyone is working on the same page, literally, so there is less likelihood of confusion about versions of a page's content. Wiki software automatically keeps a historical record of all page changes, so revisions can be undone if necessary.

Wikis facilitate group participation

  • Wiki sites can democratise the process of website creation on community or group websites. With multiple authors, no one person is responsible for, or in control of, all the content.
  • Wikis make it possible for people who may not be technically knowledgeable to contribute to common goals. This broadens the base of expertise used in site creation, since authors without programming ability are not prevented from contributing, and others can fill in where authors lack expertise. For example:
    • one person can type in content, with minimal computer skills, in a web browser window
    • another can format the text to make it look good
    • someone else can add pictures to the page to illustrate a point
    • someone else can edit it for spelling and grammar mistakes, to make sure the facts are correct, the tone and content are appropriate for public viewing, and so on.
  • Because there are more people contributing to content, wiki sites are often more dynamic than regular websites, so visitors tend to check the site for changes more frequently. An easy way to keep in touch with any changes on the site is to bookmark the "Recent Changes" page.

Wikis allow for faster and broader information sharing

For example here are some typical scenarios:

Printed Newsletters
  • An author types out a submission either on paper or electronically, and delivers it to the editor by hand, snail mail or email.
  • The editor chooses which submissions to use, edits the content, and in doing so, can alter the original intent of the author or exclude some voices.
  • If the submission was on paper, it has to be retyped into the computer first. Then the editor or someone else has to create page layouts, usually with different software that could be expensive.
  • Then it is printed and mailed to readers, sometimes at considerable cost in money, time, and the earth's resources for paper and fossil fuel energy used in operating printers and mail delivery.
  • The process can take from a week to a month or more from author to reader. The "news" can be up to a month old by the time it is received.
  • If authors miss a deadline, they will have to wait for the next issue, which could take weeks, or which could make the information obsolete.
  • Distribution of the information is limited to the physical mailing list.
  • Feedback from readers is difficult to obtain.
Traditionally Programmed HTML Websites
  • An author types out a submission either on paper or electronically, and delivers it to the editor or webmaster by hand, snail mail or email.
  • The editor chooses which submissions to use, edits the content, and in doing so, can alter the original intent of the author or exclude some voices.
  • If it was a typed submission, it would have to be retyped on the computer first.
  • Then it is sent to the webmaster for page layout and programming.
  • Depending on how busy the editor and/or programmer are, it could take hours, days or weeks to be posted online for readers.
  • On the website it can be available to be read by a wider public than members only, as is the case with newsletters, or can be password protected for members only.
  • Reader feedback may or may not be available on the website, but readers could use email to voice their response. If readers email the webmaster or author personally, they don't see other reader responses.

In contrast:

Sites using a Wiki System
  • An author logs in, giving a password that can be widely shared or limited in distribution, depending on the needs of the organisation and who is authorised to create content.
  • Using a simple web browser, the author finds or creates an appropriate page to contain the content,
  • clicks the "edit" button,
  • types or pastes the text into the edit window, with or without formatting (others can do this if necessary),
  • clicks "save",
  • and it's done.
  • The content can be signed as belonging to a specific author, or others can be given permission to edit, add to, or comment on the content at any time, so it becomes a shared creation with shared ownership and responsibility.
  • The whole process can take from 5 minutes to a few hours from author to reader, depending on the complexity of the content and the time it takes to type it in.
  • There could be a wider readership than a newsletter if the content is not password protected, allowing search engines to bring visitors to the site,
  • or the information could be password protected for members only, depending on the needs of the organisation.
  • Readers could post their feedback directly on the page, or could participate in authoring the page to allow as many voices as possible to be part of the information created. This encourages creative dialogue and a broader discussion of important facets of complex issues.

Would you like to wiki too?

If you would like me to help you create a wiki site for your organisation, convert a traditionally programmed website into a wiki site, or add a wiki section to your traditional site so you can work on a project collaboratively, please see Options and Pricing for various alternatives.