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What is Wiki?

To hear it from the source, visit WikiWikiWeb:FrontPage and WikiWikiWeb:WikiWikiWeb

Wiki is, in Ward's (WikiWikiWeb:WardCunningham --the wiki concept creator) original description:

  • The simplest online database that could possibly work.
  • A piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
  • Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.
  • Wiki encourages aggressive and continuous revision and reorganization of page content, with an iterative approach to optimal content.

Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.

Wiki Design Principles by Ward Cunningham

  • Open - Should a page be found to be incomplete or poorly organized, any reader can edit it as they see fit
  • Incremental - Pages can cite other pages, including pages that have not been written yet
  • Organic - The structure and text content of the site is open to editing and evolution
  • Mundane - A small number of (irregular) text conventions will provide access to the most useful page markup
  • Universal - The mechanisms of editing and organizing are the same as those of writing so that any writer is automatically an editor and organizer
  • Overt - The formatted (and printed) output will suggest the input required to reproduce it.
  • Unified - Page names will be drawn from a flat space so that no additional context is required to interpret them
  • Precise - Pages will be titled with sufficient precision to avoid most name clashes, typically by forming noun phrases
  • Tolerant - Interpretable (even if undesirable) behavior is preferred to error messages
  • Observable - Activity within the site can be watched and reviewed by any other visitor to the site
  • Convergent - Duplication can be discouraged or removed by finding and citing similar or related content

In practice, particular sites implement these design princples to varying degrees depending on local needs and goals.


This page was last edited 13 years ago by harrison. View page history


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