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What is Wiki?
By S. Housley

What is Wiki?
Wiki is web server software that allows users to contribute
content. Collaboration is the key to Wiki, which is designed
as a powerful system for online communities to build web
pages and web sites. Unlike blogs and forums, all users are
allowed to contribute and edit existing content. Wiki is
derived from the Hawaiian term "wiki wiki" meaning "quick".
The concept behind a Wiki is that collaboration on projects
will move it along quicker.

Wikis generally allow web pages to be written, edited and
created collectively in a web browser. Wiki supports
hyperlinks and simple text. Most Wikis are open, and allow
any user the ability to edit the contents of a Wiki web
page. While some say this opens the concept to abuse, Wiki
moderators and self-policing in the Wiki sector appear to be
taking hold. Wiki supporters generally feel that it is
generally easier to correct mistakes than create the content
from scratch. Wikipedia is a standing symbol of what many
would consider a succesful Wiki. 

Wikipedia - Wikipedia is a popular content encyclopedia that
anyone can edit. http://www.wikipedia.com

Other topic-specific Wikis like Robin Good's RSS Wiki are
proving that collaborative efforts in niche markets can
work. 

RSS Wiki -
http://www.masternewmedia.org/reports/newsmasterstoolkit/wiki/index.php/
Main
_Page

It is true that Wikis are open to abuse, but by design, it
is very easy for a Wiki moderator or other editor to revert
the Wiki to how it appeared prior to edits, essentially
rolling back the Wiki and removing any content deemed
inappropriate or unrelated. Many Wikis track the IP address
of visitors and editors, making it easy to track changes and
roll back any edits from individuals that appear to be
abusing their privileges. In rare cases Wiki operators can
protect pages, making them read-only, which restricts any
edits from occurring. While such actions are against the
true Wiki philosophy, restrictions can be used to preserve
the structure of fully-developed Wikis and protect pages
from abuse. 

What can Wikis be used for?
Wikis have spawned some interesting uses, including the
development of knowledge bases on both intranets and the
Internet. Product documentation, tutorials and online FAQs
are increasingly created using Wiki collaboration. Other
collaborative Wiki projects that have been spawned include a
Wiki dictionary and directory of famous quotes. 

Wikitionary - Wikitionary, a collaborative project to
produce a free multilingual dictionary in every language,
with definitions, etymologies, pronunciations and
quotations. - http://en.wiktionary.org

Wiki Quote - Wikiquote, a free online compendium of
quotations in every language, including sources (where
known), and translations of non-English quotes. -
http://en.wikiquote.org

Ultimately, Wikis are ideally suited for internal corporate
projects or committee groups, when all individuals
participating have the same goals in mind. Potential exists
for significant abuse when Wikis remain open in competitive
areas. 

Overall, Wikis are influential, shaping collaborative online
content development, and are likely to become increasingly
popular. Sadly, as a Wiki's popularity grows, it is likely
Wiki abuse will grow. 

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing,
publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon
manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a
wireless text messaging software company.