Using Wikis
Wiki etiquette


A wiki or Wiki is an online service that allows users to create, share and edit web based content through collaboration. The term wiki comes from the Hawaiian word “wikiwiki” meaning “fast” and the most well-known wiki on the internet is Wikipedia.

To make content creation intuitive the majority of wiki interfaces use a simple WYSIWYG text editor similar to the one found in Microsoft Word. All the HTML formatting required to display the page online is undertaken by the service. The owner/administrator of a wiki can provide users different access to the content e.g. edit, read only.

Using Wikis

Wikis provide an excellent way to work on projects where a team are either dispersed geographically or work different time patterns (time zones) and need to contribute and have visibility of a piece of work. Another great benefit of wikis is their ability to track changes and rewind to an earlier version if something goes wrong. The ability to add comments, usually below the wiki, provides a means for feedback and questions to be added without affecting the piece of work itself.

Some uses for wikis are:

  • Planning and managing projects
  • Creating online manuals
  • Planning events 

Although a few years old now this video from CommonCraft provides an excellent overview of how a wiki works.

Free Wikis

Your organisation may host its own wiki service however if not, there are many function rich free-to-use wikis available online. Although offering a free service these wikis also offer a pay service for which you receive an enhanced provision e.g. more storage space, more features, more user accounts. Some examples and comparison are:

  PBWorks ZOHO Wiki Wikidot
Number of sites 5 1, 3 workspaces, unlimited pages 5
Storage 50MB 50MB 300MB per site

Wiki etiquette

As with using any communication medium or tool there is an element of etiquette that should be followed when using wikis. The general rule of 'treating others as you would expect to be treated' is as relevant here as in other walks of life. Some general rules include:

  • Don't delete other people's work without good reason and/or consultation.
  • Don't add content that is not yours without permission from the original owner.
  • Give credit where it is due.
  • Identify your contributions – agree a convention e.g. initials after your changes.
  • Be polite and constructive, don't argue the person, argue the point.
  • Be tolerant of other people's views.
  • Consider the audience - be careful with your use of language and images that might offend.
  • Write clearly and avoid slang. 

 Remember: your wiki may be visible to the rest of the world.

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