Traditional static websites often do not allow you to do much more than to read the content, contribute to a forum, email comments to the site owner or buy things.
But a wiki is different; it is a type of website that allows some or all visitors to the site to add, remove and change pages and content very quickly and easily.
Wikis Reduce E-mail. The ability of groups to collectively edit and develop documents can save hundreds of back-and-forth emails as shown in the image below:
One advantage of a wiki over a traditional website is that the responsibility for making changes doesn't rest with just one person, it becomes a group resource and everyone has a stake in it and a contribution to make. Making changes and adding content can become quite addictive and good fun.
Where did wikis come from?
The name "Wiki" was inspired by the Hawaiian word wiki or wiki-wiki, which means "quick". The first wiki was developed in 1995 by an American, Ward Cunningham, who wanted an alternative to the word "quick" for his product that would allow quick, collaborative editing. He remembered the wiki-wiki shuttle buses that run between terminals at Honolulu International Airport and the name stuck.
Who uses wikis?
Wikis are now used extensively in education for class work, assignments and projects. Many community groups also use wikis to enable local residents to promote their town or village as a group without one person always having the responsibility of keeping it up to date.
In business wikis are now used by many of the world's most innovative companies for team collaboration, co-authoring of documents (it avoids long email chains and makes collaboration much easier), knowledge management and intranets, event planning, contact with customers and for project work.
What are wikis used for?
Some uses that we have seen are shown below:
- to co-author documents
- to draft and maintain manuals
- as a knowledge base
- to develop an intranet or extranet
- as a company website
- to communicate initiatives
- to display static or dynamic information
- to display frequently-asked-questions (FAQs)
- to facilitate online discussions of topics
- to gather requirements
- to store college notes
- to gather sources of information in one place accessible from anywhere
- for team communication
- to log client work
- to log clients and contacts
- for collaboration with clients, friends and colleagues
- to log bugs in software development
- to organize and manage projects
- to organize events
- to publish articles
- to publish checklists
- to publish reference documentation
- to record meeting notes
- to record team or organization goals
- to solve problems remotely
- to track deadlines
- to track invoices
- for brainstorming and mindmapping
- to create to-do lists
- for conversation logs
- for record keeping
- for diaries
- to create research notes
- to plan and write novels
- …and lots more