Over at Common Craft, you can now find Wikis Described in Plain English:
You may have seen the word “wiki” used to describe a website used by a group to collaborate. My intent with this post is to describe wikis and the basics of how they work- in plain English.
It is not bad, but not so enlightening anyone would slap their forehead and say “Ahah!” It would be nice to see a set of examples of high quality or effective uses of wikis in different arenas, at least something beyond the WikiPedia…
OK, wikis change constantly, everyone can edit, no programming required. Doesn’t someone have to be in charge for it to work?
Yes and no. Wikis work best when they are “gardened”. Usually, the people dedicated to the wiki (the community) will work to organize it over time. Not every user will consistently make changes effectively, so someone (or small group) often needs to be the gardener. The role of the gardener is to keep up the changes and make changes that ensure the wiki is organized and structured intuitively.
As Peter Kaminski reminded recently, wikis can be a foundation for a type of online community. I had originally thought about them in terms of utility, but I am now seeing that a successful wiki is successful because of the community of users that use it and care for it. It is truly of the users, by the users.
But this will be useful. Just yesterday, we introduced a group of 8 new faculty technology leaders to using for publishing and supporting their projects next year what will be a spaghetti junction of weblogs, web discussion boards, and wikis. They got rather excited about the wiki part, which was brand new to all of them.