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Community-based Wikis

Wikis are springing up everywhere. Even if you have little knowledge of wikis, by now, it's probable you've heard of Wikipedia, the enormous online encyclopedia that is available in several languages. Wikipedia has over one million articles and is a sure hit on Google on every topic, every time.

Top 100

The website has grown to the extent that it holds a place among the top one hundred websites. Like everything else on the web that is popular, wikis are doing well because they're easy. Wikis are like email and blogs in that they are as simple as pie to use and useful to boot.

A wiki is a place where anyone can come and enter or edit text already online. Anyone who visits the wiki can see the entries and edit them. This means that when you arrive at a wiki, you can read what others have written, and if you want to add or change something, you click the edit button and edit to your heart's content.

Malicious Users?

But this kind of community-based openness has its detractors. People worry about the integrity of the articles they find and wonder if they are authoritative. People are also concerned that their articles may be vandalized by malicious users. The fact is, however, that it is rare for anyone to vandalize a wiki.

To get an idea of how a wiki works, you can experiment by finding an entry in Wikipedia on a topic that interests you. Read the page and see if you can find something that you can add to the subject or something with which you disagree. Make some changes to the page by clicking the "Edit this Page" button at the top of the page and entering some text. Submit your changes and then visit the page in a day or so to see if the article reflects your changes.

Grammar Snafus

In general, if the Wikipedia community agrees with what you've done, you will find your text unaltered. If, however, what you've written is deemed inaccurate or worse yet, is deemed to be a form of vandalism, you will find your text has been removed. It's possible you made some typos. Rest assured that some good soul will have fixed them for you. If you made a grammar snafu, it will have been corrected. In this manner, wiki pages evolve and improve over time through the careful hands of the community at large.


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