Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blog U: Getting Active Online - Wikis

And now, another post in the Blog U series from blogger Elizabeth Curtis -- this one, on wikis. Enjoy! -GWP

Contribute your expertise to increasing web knowledge through WIKIS.

The internet is quickly becoming the premier information repository that people utilize in their daily life. Here's how you can help shape what information is available online and how it's presented by contributing your expertise to the creation and editing of wikis.

Wiki Definition: A wiki is “software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.” From the entry about wikis on Wikipedia: Wikis are used in business to provide intranets and Knowledge Management systems. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work." And a note for the linguists among you: Technically speaking, Wiki Wiki" (/wiːkiː wiːkiː/) is a reduplication of "wiki", a Hawaiian word for "fast". It has been suggested that "wiki" means "What I Know Is". However, this is a backronym.

The most popular generalist wiki is Wikipedia. Got suggestions of other wikis you think GWP readers should know about? Please post them in comments.

So ok, now how to jump in.

Step 1: When you are using a wiki to find information and seen an inaccuracy, correct it! As open public-created documents, wikis give you the power to edit erroneous information.

Raise Your Voice: Statistically, female internet users outnumber male internet users. Women are underrepresented, however, as contributors to wikis. This means that women’s voices are left out of the social reality that is created in the catalogues of information wikis contain.

Step 2: Create entries on topics that have been left out of popular wikis.

Women Missing: In a survey of 200 Wikipedia biographies, futurebird found that only 16% were about women. Further, articles on feminist topics were reported to be of poor quality.

Step 3: Start your own wiki on a specific topic.

You can create your own wiki in just a few seconds through one of a number of publicly-available "wiki farms", some of which can also make private, password-protected wikis. PeanutButterWiki, Socialtext, Wetpaint, and Wikia are popular examples of such services. For more info, see this List of wiki farms compiled by Wikipedia.

And one more thing for you scholars out there: Wikis are currently an active topic of research. Two well-known wiki conferences are