Wiki - culture, concepts and principles

General concept and idea of wikis.

General concept and idea of wikis

What is a wiki?

"A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranets and Knowledge Management systems" (from Wikipedia).

Originally, the word "wiki" is hawaiian and means "fast" or "quick". According to Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software called WikiWikiWeb, the name was chosen "as an alliterative substitute for quick and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web".

The idea behind wikis

As mentioned above, the original idea behind wikis was that anybody can create and edit content of a wiki page, using a simplified markup language.

A markup language is a language that combines text with additional anotations that have an impact of the presentation of the text itself once it is displayed. An example for markup language is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that is the basis for the majority of internet websites. In conjunction with wikis, the markup language is reduced to a few simple annotations that easily allow any user to format a wiki page. These days, of course, WYSIWYG editors can be used to simplify interaction with the wiki.

According to its founder, the basic principles of a wiki are:
  • "Any information can be altered or deleted by anyone. Wiki pages represent consensus because it's much easier to DeleteInsults and remove WikiSpam than indulge them. What remains generates new ideas by the iteractive integration of multiple points of view.
  • Anyone can play. This sounds like a recipe for low signal - Wiki gets hit by the great unwashed as often as any other site - but FromFertilizerComeFlowers. Only good players have a desire to keep playing.
  • Wiki doesn't work in real time. People take time to think, sometimes days or weeks, before they follow up some edit. So what people write is often well-considered."

How is Foswiki different?

That all sounds very well, but it doesn't take account of the constraints and requirements we encounter in the modern business environment. Foswiki has been contributed to by people with many years of experience in many industries, so it implements a lot of essential features beyond what is described above, such as:
  • Strict access control
  • Protection against phishing, spam, and other forms of malicious attack
  • Change histories
  • Integration with corporate information systems, such as LDAP
  • Support for state-of-the-art web servers
  • Integration with corporate database solutions
  • Support for all industry standard browsers
  • WYSIWYG editing

Here are just a few of the ways we have seen Foswiki being used in enterprise environments:
  • As a document management system, where wiki content is developed by a teamof people. For example, the documentation for a product might be done in a wiki, with contributions from design, engineering, sales, and even post-sales support through the lifecycle of the product. Wikipedia is an example of this model.
  • As a collaborative discussion platform, where someone posts an article that is then iteratively discussed - rather like a blog, though in a more fluid and freeform way.
  • As an integration platform, where other tools - for example, issue trackers, translation platform, web services - can be brought together to provide a single coordinated interface for users.
  • As a training development platform, to develop interactive training
  • As a customer support database, where customers can directly interact with their issues (subject to access control) and communicate though the system with the support team

For more ideas on how a wiki can be used - and there are many - visit the Foswiki extensions web at

There are many wiki implementations in the world today, but Foswiki stands apart from the others in it's raw power and flexibility. The basic wiki platform has been refined and improved over the years, while hundreds of contributed modules enhance it's functionality in many different domains, mainly oriented towards business applications.
Topic revision: r1 - 01 Oct 2015, UnknownUser
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