Week 5 – Wikis

Thing 12 – Learn about wikis!

What is a wiki?

Wiki is taken from the Hawaiian word wiki wiki meaning quick or swift. A wiki is a website in which content can be added, edited and changed quickly and easily by a group of members. This means a wiki is great way of getting people working together and collaborating online.

(The Wiki Wiki bus, by Kables)

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

  • anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom
  • earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed

And users do not need to know anything about websites in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. Editing a wiki is just like editing a word document or indeed a blog!

Have a look at this video to find out more:

But hang on, if just anyone can edit, doesn’t that mean that wikis are full of rubbish?

The ethos of wiki sites like Wikipedia (the most infamous of wikis) is to be open and allow anyone to contribute – a wonderful idea, but this can cause problems. In theory a wiki with enough contributors is self regulating – if someone adds something that isn’t true, other users should spot the mistake and change it. However, there are a few problems with this is in practice:

Some of the problems that can make wikis less attractive are:

  • Sometimes wikis can get full of information that is not really relevant. While adding such information means that wikipedia is useful as a font of all useless and geeky knowledge (useless until you’re dying to know, that is!) it can also make a wiki cluttered and untidy.
  • As contributors are not usually vetted, unreliable information could easily be added to a wiki and taken by the reader as fact (this is why readers should always look for references in a wikipedia article!)
  • With many contributors and little formal regulation, wikis like wikipedia often find a few amusing/malicious editors slipping through the net. This is called (among other things) wiki vandalism. This includes any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity ofthe wiki. While vandalism does get spotted and fixed, obviously there is the chance that in the mean time some people may be miss led into thinking that Plato was an ancient Hawaiian weatherman… take a look at the example below…

Thing 13 – 6 Degrees of Wikipedia

Heard of the game ‘6 Degrees of Seperation’? Or for the younger generatiion – ‘6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon’. The same principle (kind of) works with Wikipedia!

Think of something you’re interested in. I’m going to choose ‘Vienna’. Visit Wikipedia and click on the ‘Random Article’ link on the top left of the screen. This will generate a random Wikipedia article. Your job now is to travel through Wikipedia using links only, with the intention of ending up (preferebly in 6 links or less) at the article you chose first!

Basically its a convoluted way of getting you to explopre Wikipedia and see how people use it, as well as how it is put together as a massive web of links. but its a fun game, no? And if you read those articles you might just learn something!

What’s that you say? You chose some uber rare ’80s indie band as your intended destination and your random article was about the Italian version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’? You think the task at hand is impossible?

Well, firstly, it helps if you choose something a little more common as your destination… that might help. Sorry to point out the obvious. Secondly, check it out on this Find Shortest Paths app. (You may have to scroll down the page a little). There you can find out how many moves you could have done it in.

Thing 14 – Edit a wiki entry

Thing 14 used to be about editing Wikipedia in retrospect we think editing Wikipedia is quite hard *Boo* so we have changed this Thing to make the task easier and more useful. *Yey!*

So, your lovely 25Thinks team have made a wiki especially for you with the super easy to use Wikispaces. Your task today is to add some information to it.

Our wiki is called 25Things Ideas and is a place for 25Things dicsiples to share practical ideas for uses for some of the social media and web 2.0 stuff you’re learning about. For example: ideas on how to use flickr for marketing, how to use a blog as a staff communication tool etc etc.

These could be your own ideas or experiences or good examples you’ve found on the web or elsewhere. You could include pictures, links… whatever!

Adding content to 25Things Ideas

  1. Visit the wiki 25Things Ideas. You shouldn’t need a login.
  2. Using the A to Z on the first page, find the instuctions for how to edit the wiki. They’re all right there, including a video tutorial.
  3. Make sure you follow the all of the instructions, adding links were needed and adding your page to the A to Z in the proper place.
  4. Add your information!
  5. Post a link to your information in the comments at the bottom of this post so we can all see what’s new 😀

Over time this wiki should become a great resource with lots of inspiration on how you can use web 2.o and social networking tech in the best way possible.

Extra Credit -Peachy Keen Jelly Bean

Wikispaces is free and setting up your own wiki is super dooper simple. If you would like your own wiki sign up at www.wikispaces.com and go from there!

Here’s a video in case you need a bit more help:

Extra Credit – Leisure Rules

I think you’ve done enough today so now, some Eddie Izzard telling us how much he loves Wikipedia and explains why its caught on a bit. (He also is slightly negative about libraries but we’ll ignore that bit because he is a very funny man).


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