This is a story about how a wiki grew from a sentence.

  1. A sentence said something on a wiki.
  2. A conversation grew out of it.
  3. The conversation got a page.
  4. The page spawned more pages, becoming a "section."
  5. The section became a wiki.

Along the way, sentences, conversations, pages, or sections may have been relocated from wiki to wiki, as decided appropriate.

The purpose of this story isn't to say "this is the way it happens." Rather, it's to provide LinkLanguage for this (common) story.

See Also

WikiBudding, CommunityMitosis

Tangentially related to: WikiProliferation, TooFewWiki, SplitWiki, HubAndSpokeWiki? BigBucketsFirst, PageCluster, UnifiedClusters, MobileContent


The DorfWiki (village wiki) started small - maybe as a question or a paragraph - at the Gr├╝nderWiki. It turn into a page, then into a separate branch within the page hierarchy. After a few months a separate wiki for this purpose was created. It hosts a number of village projects within a fractal structure (some German, some English). Anyway the process followed pretty much the scheme of this page. Gr├╝nderWiki itself is built as a place to help the founders of wikis and online communities. So I would expect it to work that way. – HelmutLeitner

more details

(moved from: )

Last week I was interested in medical imaging. I thought "wouldn't it be cool if I could listen in on a bunch of intelligent people chatting about my current interest-of-the-day ? – I know, I'll make a fresh, empty wiki on that subject !".

Before that, Evan Prodromou mentioned Visual Wiki didn't have enough "mapping" content, and wished for a "maps wiki" ( WikiTravel:Wikitravel_talk:WikiNode ). "I know, I'll make a fresh, empty wiki on that subject also !".

I'm starting to realize

This week I think "I'll just make a new WorldWideWiki:CategoryTag?". Then pages on maps and medical imaging will grow and multiply in the VisualWiki (and/or the GfxAlgo? wiki), CommunityWiki:BigBucketsFirst. Maybe someday there will be enough mapping content on VisualWiki for WikiTravel:WikiNode to link directly to it. Then further in the future, they may bud off and move to a new wiki – or they may not. (The category tags will make it easy to find and move all the relevant pages en masse).

Some benefits of keeping topics together in one big wiki:

There seems to be a spectrum:

But it's hard to say that a particular topic "has" a particular size. It needs to grow through every size.

There seems to be a natural progression:

"How can we tell if a topic is "big enough" to need its own wiki?" may not be the right question – it may be impossible to know ahead of time. Perhaps it's better to allow a topic to grow CommunityWiki:BigBucketsFirst. Then when people "feel" that the entire wiki is "too large" (too many groups of people that have absolutely no interests in common are making RecentChanges scroll by way too rapidly), only then is the wiki ready to bud some/all of its Categories into a fresh new wiki.

Gaah. This note is much longer than I thought it would be. Sorry. Where's a good place to move my note? Somewhere on CommunityWiki?

– VisualWiki:DavidCary

Post it to: CommunityWiki:GrowthByContent?

LionKimbro [[DateTime?(2004-07-04T19:39:42Z)]]


DavidCary voiced the story on TooFewWiki.

I'm working now to link it with other approaches to the growth of wiki, such as SplitWiki and HubAndSpokeWiki?.

I agree that this is the way things should usually head. The times you want to start a new wiki out of nothing are when:

  • you are targeting a certain audience other than the readers of existing wikis, or
  • there is no existing wiki in which your first contributions would be on topic, or
  • you already have a group of people interested in the new wiki

The last step, refactoring out a category into its own wiki, is currently the hardest/most inconvenient. Today, there are many barriers to this step, but I think that in the future we'll be able to amelioriate most of them:

  • technological: right now, you have to manually move those pages (an infrastructure for MobileContent will help here)
  • social: you have to convince people who were interested in the conversation before to start checking the new wiki
  • technological: we need tools that will make it easier for people to keep up with the new wiki more conveniently
  • legal: the copyrights of the old and new wikis must be compatible

Good points.

there is no existing wiki in which your first contributions would be on topic

I don't think this is possible any more. One can describe a wiki one intends to create over at SwitchWiki, then use that description page for the first contributions. Or one can experiment with LionKimbro's (now AlexSchroeder's) cool (and once experimental) .


"Nobody should start to undertake a large project. You start with a small trivial project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you'll just overdesign and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision. So start small …" – Linus Torvalds

Define external redirect: GrowthByContent HubAndSpokeWiki GfxAlgo DateTime CategoryTag

EditNearLinks: WikiPage SwitchWiki