What Is a Wiki? – How-To Geek



The word “wiki” comes from Hawaiian and can be a verb meaning “To Hasten” or an adjective meaning “quick” or “fast.” But how in the world does that relate to Wikipedia?

The Origin of the Name “Wiki”

The first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was created by a man named Ward Cunningham to facilitate the exchange of ideas, information, and experience between programmers. The name, WikiWikiWeb, was inspired by a shuttle service at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. Since then, the idea has grown explosively, and become one of the defining aspects of the internet.

Note: A lot of the discussion and examples here will revolve around Wikipedia and other sites managed by the Wikimedia Foundation, as they’re by far the largest wikis in existence. Not all wikis function in exactly the same way, though most will be similar.

What Is a Wiki?

The internet is loaded with informational websites of widely varying quality. Some are filled with carefully curated content, written and edited by people with specialized training or experience. Most sources considered authoritative are run this way, and for good reason — selecting your content for accuracy goes a long way towards increasing credibility.

Wikis work in exactly the opposite way. The content found on wikis is written and edited almost exclusively by anonymous volunteers. If you spot an inaccuracy or problem with an article, you can make any corrections necessary. If an article doesn’t exist at all, you can add it. If someone has a problem with your additions, they can dispute it or remove it. You can even host your own wiki if you wanted, either using software available from the Wikimedia Foundation, or your own home-brewed solution. The goal of wikis is always to be as open as possible.

The entire history of an article — when it was created, what changes were made and when, and any discussion or debate about the content — is publicly viewable. Here is an example of what you might see if you were to check out a page’s edit history on Wikipedia.

Specialized Wikis

The majority of wikis out there don’t try to be as broad in scope as Wikipedia. There are specialized wikis for almost every topic you can imagine. (formerly Wikia) alone hosts thousands of Wikis relating to movies, television, books, video games, and more.

As an example, the Star Wars wiki — which is named “Wookieepedia,” a portmanteau of “Wookiee” and “Encyclopedia” — has just shy of 175,000 articles.

Wikipedia maintains a non-exhaustive list of other wikis you can find on the internet, which you can check out.

Using an open collaboration model has allowed wikis to cover a diverse range …….


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