what the heck is Wiki?

wikiHave you ever used Wikipedia?
(I know my kids used it for research on their school projects)

Do you remember the Wikileaks scandal?
(where thousands of classified CIA emails were released to the public)

Or maybe you’ve heard of WikiTravel?
(vacation destination reviews by people that have actually been there)

I have long thought that “Wiki” was maybe a brand name or a company but my son recently enlightened me on what the heck Wiki really is and it’s actually kind of cool.

A “Wiki” is a website model that lets any visitor become a participant. A website developed and maintained by “the people”. It’s a collaboration with input from numerous (sometimes millions) of contributors. It’s open structure allows anyone to add, remove, or even change the content.

So yes, if you felt so inclined, even you could edit or contribute to a wiki-site.

Learn how here – it’s that easy.

(FYI. This is why teachers always say NOT to use Wikipedia for assignments because there is a chance that the information could be wrong. Anyone out there could be drunk and/or bored and think it would be fun to change dates or data or even input incorrect information on purpose.)

Some of the more popular Wiki sites include:

Wikipedia – an online encyclopedia

Wikileaks – publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct

Wikitravel – a travel guide with over 300,000 contributors offering insight to travel all over the world

WikiAnswers – ask a question about anything and someone will answer it

WikiWikiWeb – information on computer programming design

The “Wiki” model is great to create communities for people with a common interest. Some wiki sites catering to more specific interests include:

Wikispecies – a directory of species

Wookieepedia – an online encyclopedia on Star Wars (really?)

PCGamingWiki – information on all PC games

LyricWiki – A listing of lyrics searchable by artist, song title, album or label

You may not always know that a website is a “Wiki” because they don’t all have “Wiki” in the website name. Some of these include:

Familypedia – family trees and history

Foodista – food, recipes and other culinary information

PlanetMath – a mathematical encyclopedia

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that use the “Wiki” model. It would be impossible to list them all but you can find a list of notable websites that use the “Wiki” model on – you guessed it – Wikipedia!

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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