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Revision as of 05:35, 25 June 2016 by Eekim (talk | contribs) (Eekim moved page Wiki zen to Wiki/Zen)

A wiki (from the Hawaiian word meaning "quick") is a web site that anybody can edit from his or her web browser using a simple set of text formatting rules. You can think of them as a giant, blank notebook that several people can use simultaneously.

Wikis are widely used as group authoring tools and also as forums for online communities. Perhaps the best known wiki is [[1]], an online encyclopedia with thousands of entries in multiple languages. Anyone can contribute to it — and millions have — by simply clicking the "Edit" button on one's browser.

The simplicity of wikis make them powerful, but also disorienting, even intimidating. Where do you write down your thoughts? Is it okay to edit or even remove other people's text?

There is no single answer to any of these questions. The rule of thumb is, there's no wrong way to use a wiki. (It may help newbies to understand how carefully most wiki software keeps track of all old revisions — meaning that your colleagues can perceive what you're trying to do more clearly than you might think, and also that no action is ever irreversible if it's found to have had unintended consequences.) Don't be afraid to play and experiment! If there's a better way to say something or a better place to put it, you or somebody else can easily change it later. Social norms will evolve with use and time.

Other suggestions:

  • If you're writing something down, write it in the wiki. Or, if you prefer, write it in your own word processor, and copy or link it into the wiki later
  • Don't fret over where to put things. When in doubt, put it anywhere. Somebody — maybe you — can move it to a better place later
  • The etiquette for changing other people's text depends on context:
  • Simple changes: If you see a typo or grammatical error, fix it. If you have a comment, add it to the text and sign it.
  • Bigger changes: (In answer to Kristin's question) If you want to make substantial changes, you have several options. One is to simply "be bold" and make the changes, and then alert the original author(s) through whatever means seem appropriate: a note on the wiki, an email, a phone call. Another is to check with him/her first, to make sure your changes won't be disruptive to some process he or she is in the midst of. Another approach is to clearly indicate what you are changing, through formatting: use strikethrough instead of deleting, use a different color text for your new additions, etc. In far more cases than you might expect, the first, "be bold" approach is actually best; because your own judgment is often better than you realize! A wiki community will demonstrate this to you over and over, which is one of its one of the more pleasant aspects of a wiki :) -Pete F.
  • Check Recent Changes often
  • Garden the wiki. Wikis are powerful because they are easy to change and restructure. They work because people actually do these things. Do your part, not only by contributing new content, but by cleaning up and reorganizing existing content
  • Link as you think. If you are writing about something that might merit its own page, create a link to it even if you don't plan on adding content immediately. You might even be surprised; somebody else might have already created that page