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See also: Wikis | WikiWiki Software | Collaboration | Collaborative writing | iA Wiki | Wiki Pros And Cons

Also Known As: WikiWikiWeb

Longform: WikiWiki

"Wiki-wiki" means "quick" in the Hawaiian language; pronounced "wee kee wee kee"


What is a wiki, and how does it work?

The term WikiWiki can be used to identify either a type of hypertext document or the software used to write it. Often called "wiki" for short, a wiki is a collaboratively-written website, also known as a wikispace driven by wiki server software. The wiki's server enables web documents to be authored using a simple markup scheme similar to those found in a number of web fora.

A user may contribute or alter content without those efforts being reviewed prior to its inclusion. This editing freedom means that any one user can edit any existing page, even those originally written by other users. The resulting set of collaborative hypertext documents, also called either a "wiki" or a "WikiWikiWeb," is typically produced by a community of regularly-revisiting users.

All accesses are logged in a Recent Changes page and can be referred to by any subsequent user to see the past history of a page. For an example, see this current page's revision history.

Many wikis are immediately identifiable by their use of CamelCase links, produced by capitalizing words in a phrase and removing the spaces between them. This CamelCase is seen by the wiki server and is automatically turned into a link. The infoAnarchy wiki intentionally does not use CamelCase, but instead uses free links.

Ultimately, what remains is an interconnected, or wikified, set of pages which have been collaboratively written, allowing many minds to come together to write on common interests.

In order to maintain a wiki-wide continuity between all pages, most wikis have their own Style Guide and Text Formatting Rules to define how pages are made and linked together.

The original WikiWikiWeb was established by Ward Cunningham, who invented and named the Wiki concept, and produced the first implementation of a WikiWiki server. Some people maintain that only Ward's wiki should be called Wiki (upper case) or the WikiWikiWeb, where other wikispaces should be referred to in the lowercase "wiki". Ward's Wiki remains one of the most popular Wiki sites.

Wiki Works

While there are a number of existing wiki pros and cons, the fact remains that the wiki concept and mechanics really do work.

Writing in a wiki is like zuihitsu. It is zen-like.. it is relaxing and feels good. There is very little thought-time between thinking of something to write and actually comitting it into the wiki world. One's most idle and fleeting notions can be taken advantage of. In a sense, a wiki may be thought of as collaborative zuihitsu.

Moreover, one is committing one's thoughts into a community of similar authors. Collaboration among those authors can make even humble ideas flourish.

Using a wiki

People have individual desires and uses, but there are some common trends. Where some view a website and therefore a wiki as a construct of information tools, others see an opportunity to intellectually vent, to author and create within the wiki, to help.

Some wikis set up a homepage and a mission statement and attempt to create a theme between all hosted pages. Other wikis are meant to be a collection of the outlet of creativity, and are only themed in that their regular authors have certain interests.

The wiki concept itself has become an excellent tool for collaboration and for the creation of online encyclopediae.

Some view a wiki as anarchic, others are structured. Some "walk the wiki", like one would "surf the net", where others delve deeply into specific topics. There have been efforts such as the meatball wiki Tour Bus which act somewhat like both, allowing a tour of featured wiki pages.

Ultimately, a wiki remains as both a live structure which may be used as a potent reference tool, and a pool of authors.. all desirous to create.

Related Wiki Pages:

Such links are often found on the top line of a page.

  • Wiki Pros And Cons - Discussion on the pros and cons of a wiki.
  • infoAnarchy's Wiki - Has specific details about this particular wiki implementation, and discusses it's features and differences from other wikis.
  • WikiWiki Software - Examples of WikiWiki-related software.
  • Wikis - Other wikis of note.


Some of the content of this page has been adapted from a Wikipedia article, licensed under the FDL