This is a page to talk about what we love in wikis. For critical remarks use CriticismOfWiki.

What works right in the wiki:

What Works Right

Not only do these work right, but we sort of even demand them, in a way. Perhaps we should call this: “Wiki Demands,” or “Demands from Wiki.”

Or maybe even, “George, the Wiki People are here, and they’ve posted a list of Demands.” Or even: “The wiki people have taken hostages, and they’re giving us our demands.”

I think it’s a little more than “What works right.”

Anybody can come, and be seen. – The blog world where people must cozy up with an established blogger in order to take part in a conversation is kind of freaky. They can’t even see you, unless you’ve already got their attention through some other back channel..!

In the blog world of 2005, it’s not even as bad as “You must explicitely join the community.” It’s worse! You have to get enlist everybody in the community, individually, in order to join the community. And what’s more, it’s hard to add somebody! Fenangling with RSS feeds is tricky business and involves opening and closing programs, looking up RSS feeds, reverse-engineering how blogger vs. live-journal publishes an RSS or ATOM or whatever feed.

In wiki, you just show up. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anybody can edit. – It’s awesome that people can rework something. We should stop relying on the concept: “Somebody will rework this.” Because they probably won’t. But it’s great that you can rework a lot of things, even if it’s to just correct a typo.

Where does it work strongest? I think the WikiNode is a good example. Checklists are a good example. Spelling corrections are a good example. BayleShanks censoring me when I swear is a good example. Even the occasional paragraph or rewording; All good examples.

Side note: I think that comments should be attached to a version of a page. They should perhaps “show through” to later versions, within a section that says: “These comments were attached to an older version of the page. Click here to hide them, if they are out of date.” (Anybody can hide/restore the old comments, and whatever the last visitor had set, is how it stays for everybody. Some way of archiving them (hiding them from plain view,) and even deleting them permanently, when the community really wants to delete them.

But editing is good, editing is great; We demand editing.

Documents. – Documents are great! A community should keep and maintain a few documents.

Hyperlinking. – It must be easy to link to them. LinkLanguage, LocalNames. In the future, perhaps even PlainLink, if it will work intelligently enough.

Page Construction. – It must be easy to create new documents.

SoftSecurity. – The community maintains the social order, not the software.

See Also


For me wiki is a good starting point to get a web-service running without even knowing, what kind of a service you need. All algorithms will be implemented by use culture – but you have to do all the “computing” yourself. Emerging use-patterns should be observed and converted from simulation (hand-job) to working code.

I think the recent controversy surrounding Wikipedia (Wikipedia:John Seigenthaler Sr. Wikipedia biography controversy) is, in its own way, praise of wikis. The fact that Wikipedia is believed to be the most popular encyclopedia ever in human history, and the recent assertion in Nature magazine that the entries are nearly as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, is proving that wikis are really making a difference in the way we think about sharing and accessing information. All the recent articles in Time, the New York Times, and USA Today (among other mainstream press) describing the recent controversy and debating the usefulness of Wikipedia can be read definitively as a sign that wikis are on the radar, and – in the way that they are now being perceived as a threat to corporate control of information – are here to stay. – ASouzis (new to CommunityWiki)

For some context, see DanahBoyd?’s blog entry Wikipedia, academia and Seigenthaler.

Welcome! We don’t typically talk about Wikipedia here (WikiPediaIsNotTypical,) but your point is welcome.

I agree; By the time the question of Wikipedia’s “authoritativeness” appears, it’s already too late.

Like in Frederick Douglas's argument, the point is already conceeded: Wikipedia is already authoritative. Some people are just worried about how people will use it now, that’s all.


Define external redirect: DanahBoyd

EditNearLinks: WikiPediaIsNotTypical