iKnowHow: building a wiki for the voluntary sector (part two) - What is a Wiki?
So, I thought it was appropriate to follow my introduction of iKnowHow with a post that had a bit less about cats and more about what a ‘wiki’ actually is.
Most of us will know about wikis from the huge site Wikipedia; the free, collaborative, multilingual internet encyclopaedia. Wikipedia is without a doubt the most successful wiki ever - with over 100,000 regular contributors and a total of 20 million articles written by volunteers around the world. According to Alexa, it’s the 6th most popular website in existence.
But it’s not just Wikipedia. There are thousands of different types of wikis across the internet, from the enormously popular Muppets Wiki to the infamous WikiLeaks. In short, wikis are commonplace, we already use them and they’re here to stay.
They offer three basic functions to every user:
- create their own page(s)
- add content to existing page(s)
- edit existing page(s).
Wikis are websites that are developed collaboratively by a community of users. They are more interactive and dynamic than a basic website, as anyone can take part.
There’s just one drawback: most wikis are ugly. And hard to use. Just my opinion, but they tend not to be the most intuitive or friendly experiences – which is strange given that they’re all about collaboration and open publishing. Most require you to know ‘wiki markup’ in order to make changes to content. I am sensing that just the phrase ‘wiki markup’ would have most people running off to Facebook instead.
Central to the iKnowHow project is to create a wiki experience that is easy, intuitive and maybe even fun. We’ve been doing user testing of some early design prototypes and the message we’re hearing is: if it’s not nice to look at and simple to use, people are not interested.
So, what’s your feeling about this? Have you contributed to a wiki before? How was the experience? And if you haven’t, what’s been stopping you?
Don’t forget to comment on this post or follow our Twitter hashtag #iKnowhow.