A wiki is a collaborative website that houses the perpetual collective work of many authors. Wikis are created using a type of specialized content management system (CMS) that can be customized to control different wiki elements, like user roles, access permissions, approval processes, and page structure.
Wikis vs. blogs
Wikis are similar to blogs in structure and logic, in that individual users can add, delete, or modify any wiki content regardless of who originally published it. Wiki administrators can review changes, but most content on public wikis is generally unmoderated.
Unlike blogs, however, most wikis do not attribute any page to an individual author or set of authors. Instead, they are intended to serve as an aggregate source of general knowledge.
The lack of author attribution sometimes calls into question the reliability or credibility of the information found on a wiki, especially if there are no other sources cited. For example, anonymous users frequently target Wikipedia pages with content modifications that are tied to political propaganda, misleading clickbait headlines, or individual opinions rather than objective facts. For this reason, Wikipedia is often frowned upon as a source in academia.
How are wikis used?
Wikis can be either public-facing or reserved for internal use only. Internal wikis are typically used as a basic learning management system for employee onboarding, process documentation, or corporate training. In this setting, wikis can also host important documents like the employee handbook or policy guide.
External, public-facing wikis are commonly used for general knowledge purposes. The most popular wikis cover a wide range of topics, but some wikis are focused on niche subjects. Regardless of the subject, the goal of a public wiki is to crowdsource the research, writing, editing, sharing, and ongoing maintenance of the content. In a business setting, for example, hardware manufacturers and software companies may publish external wikis to help customers with self-guided troubleshooting.
Examples of wikis
Examples of popular wikis include:
This article was updated by Kaiti Norton.