Monday, 13th July 2020
Computers & The Internet Article

This Month's Magazine


R&B Ainslie look at the simplest online database

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit a Web pages content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslink’s between internal pages on the fly.

Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself. Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by non technical users. Wiki’s are growing because, at their core, they are about as simple to use as you can get. That simplicity means that people aren’t afraid to try them.



Like e-mail and blogs, wiki’s also perform a very useful service in a simple way. A wiki allows a group of people to enter and communally edit bits of text. These bits of text can be viewed and edited by anyone who visits the wiki. What it means is that, when you come to a wiki, you are able to read what the wiki's community has written. By clicking an "edit" button on an article, you are able to edit the article's text. You can add or change anything you like in the article you are reading. This simplicity and the utter openness of a wiki cause many people to instantly reject the idea. They assume that because anyone can edit a wiki at any time, the wiki must be flawed. But wiki supporters claim this is an incorrect assumption.

The heart of any wiki is its community, literally millions of people visit Wikipedia every month and together they form Wikipedia's community. Each person who arrives is able to play one or more roles on the site. For example: Writers, editors and admins work together to solve almost all of the problems that you would expect to arise with an open platform like Wikipedia. They also work collaboratively to create some really well written and in-depth articles. On a big wiki like Wikipedia, the recent changes page is impressive.

Thousands of pages change every day. During peak hours, there can be 50 or more pages changing every minute. Therefore, Wikipedia has a more personal tool called a Watchlist. Virtually any topic with any sort of active community can, in theory, support a wiki. A wiki gives the community a way to gather information together and modify it as things change, it is quite likely that wiki’s and other community based efforts will grow rapidly as people become familiar and more comfortable with the concept.
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