Skip to main content


Wikis For Dummies

Dan Woods, Peter Thoeny

ISBN: 978-1-118-05066-8 February 2011 336 Pages


  • Corporations have finally realized the value of collaboration tools for knowledge sharing and Wiki is the open source technology for creating collaborative Web sites, as either a public site on the Internet or on a private intranet site
  • Shows readers how to set up Wikis in a corporate setting or on a personal site so that users can retrieve information, post information, and edit the content
  • Covers everything from choosing a Wiki engine to administration and maintenance
  • Discusses the advantages of using Wiki in a corporate environment, which companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, Disney, and Motorola have already discovered

Foreword xvii

Introduction 1

Part I: Introducing Wikis 7

Chapter 1: Understanding Wikis: From Ward’s Brain to Your Browser 9

Finding Your Way to Wikis 10

What makes a wiki a wiki 11

Comparing wikis and other communication tools 13

The (almost) formal definition of a wiki 14

You, Too, Can Wiki 16

Starting your wiki engines 16

Creating your first wiki page 17

Putting Wikis to Work 21

Who are wiki people? 21

The lifecycle of wiki people 22

Herding a small group with wikis 23

Wide-body wikis for your company 23

Going public with your wiki 24

The History and Future of Wikis 24

HyperCard and other wiki precursors 24

Ward’s challenge 25

Ward’s solution 25

The not-so-overnight success of wikis 26

Hosted wikis open the door to everyone 29

Where wikis will go 30

Chapter 2: Contributing Content to a Wiki 31

Basic Wiki Skills 32

Navigating wiki webs 32

Editing and creating wiki pages 38

Linking wiki pages 44

Attaching Documents to Wiki Pages 49

Printing Wiki Pages 51

Tracking Versions and Changes 51

How versions keep wikis safe 51

Tracking changes in a wiki 52

Chapter 3: The Thousand Problem-Solving Faces of Wikis 55

The Many Categories of Wikis 56

Content-Focused Wikis: The Goldmine of Shared Content 57

Doing research with reference wikis 57

Sharpening skills with hobbyist wikis 60

Going around the world with travel wikis 62

Finding technical documentation wikis 64

Process-Focused Wikis: A Shared Space for a Shared Mission 65

Managing projects and productivity with wikis 66

Getting the job done with task-oriented wikis 66

Making it happen with advocacy wikis 70

Finding educational wikis for students and teachers 72

Community Wikis: Exploring Common Bonds 73

Goofing off with entertainment wikis 75

Hanging around at clubhouse wikis 76

Getting nerdy with technology wikis 77

Ease-of-Use Wikis: Web Site Creation Made Easy 77

Creating small business brochure wikis 78

Making connections with personal and family wikis 78

Hunting for More Wikis 79

Chapter 4: Using and Improving the 800-pound Gorilla of Wikis: Wikipedia 81

Understanding How Wikipedia Works 82

Run by volunteers 84

Editing Wikipedia entries 85

Dressing up your Wikipedia entries 86

Previewing and saving your changes 87

Linking pages and Web sites in Wikipedia 88

What Wikipedia Can Do For You 90

Using Wikipedia as a research tool 90

Is Wikipedia reliable? 91

Sharing your knowledge on Wikipedia 92

Part II: Making Your Own Wiki 95

Chapter 5: Finding a Hosted Home for Your Wiki 97

Choosing the Right Hosted Wiki 98

Exploring hosted wikis 99

Ease-of-use wikis 102

Community wikis 102

Process-focused wikis 103

Content-focused wikis 103

Creating a Hosted Wiki with WikiSpaces 104

Creating pages 107

Editing pages 108

Linking pages 109

Protecting pages and wikis 110

Inviting others to your wiki 112

Changing the look, feel, and design of a wiki 113

Adding images, video, and other widgets to a wiki 115

Adding premium services and advertising 115

Chapter 6: Creating Content for Your Wiki 117

Applying Markup as Content Makeup 118

Editing Pages with Wiki Markup 118

Creating hierarchy with headings 120

Inserting bullets 121

Building tables 122

Formatting text 123

Controlling Layout and Formatting with HTML 125

Choosing Wiki Page Modes 126

Using document mode 128

Implementing thread mode pages 129

Using structured mode 130

Chapter 7: Linking, Categorizing, and Tagging Wiki Pages 131

Linking Wiki Pages 132

Linking WikiWords automatically 132

Preventing false WikiWord links 133

Free linking 134

Creating pages using links 135

Giving life to stubs 136

Viewing all links to a page 137

Renaming all links in a web 138

Linking Outside Your Wiki 139

Linking URLs 139

Linking between wikis using Interwiki names 140

Linking to other webs and namespaces 141

Linking to Files, Images, and Multimedia 141

Uploading attachments 142

Linking to file attachments 144

Inserting images 145

Linking to multimedia 147

Categorizing and Tagging Pages 148

Using MediaWiki categories 148

Tagging content 149

Chapter 8: The Four Dimensions of Wiki Design 151

Architecting the Information in Your Wiki 152

Understanding wiki taxonomy 152

Surveying common wiki taxonomies 154

Linking in patterns 157

What’s in a page name? 158

Plotting Navigational Paths through Your Wiki 159

Designing the front page 159

Designing section pages 162

Categorizing pages 163

Planning headers, footers, and left-hand navigation 165

Adding supporting pages to your wiki 169

Using Templates to Design Content Pages 169

Adding Visual Panache to Your Wiki 172

Using themes and skins 173

Choosing color 174

Personalizing wikis with logos 175

Part III: Promoting, Managing, and Improving Your Wiki 177

Chapter 9: Attracting Users to Your Wiki 179

Wiki Don’ts 180

Don’t confuse your audience 180

Don’t fire and forget 180

Don’t spam 181

Don’t get the Field of Dreams syndrome 181

Don’t overdesign 182

Don’t overmanage 182

Don’t go on wiki suicide missions 182

Wiki Do’s 183

Seed your wiki 183

Remove barriers 184

Encourage wiki-users to be bold 185

Starting a Community Wiki 185

Focus the wiki 186

Advertise the wiki 186

Assist the wiki 186

Promoting Wikis in the Office 187

Living with Wiki Life Cycles 188

Deploying the wiki 188

Growing your wiki 189

Taming large wikis 189

Ending a wiki’s life 190

Chapter 10: Choosing an Installed Wiki Engine 191

Evaluating Basic Wiki Groups 192

Assessing Your Wiki Requirements 194

The skill level of the user population 194

The number of people who will add content 194

The number of people who will view the content 195

The wiki’s security level 195

The wiki’s potential size 196

Whether you need automation 196

Your technical expertise level 197

Your willingness to become a wiki champion 197

Comparing Wiki Engines  197

Making the safe choice 198

Exploring the WikiMatrix 199

Going on a Wiki Walkabout 202

Points to ponder on your wiki walkabout 204

XWiki walkabout 204

MoinMoin walkabout 205

TWiki walkabout 206

MediaWiki walkabout 207

DokuWiki walkabout 207

Chapter 11: Getting Your Wiki Engine Up and Running 209

Finding a Home for Your Wiki 210

Hosting on a shared or dedicated server 210

Hosting inside your organization 211

Contracting all-in-one hosting and consulting 211

Finding an Internet Mechanic 212

Starting Your Wiki Engine 215

Meeting system requirements 215

Finding installation help 218

Downloading and unpacking binaries 219

Connecting to the Web server 220

Running the configure script 221

Chapter 12: Managing Wikis 225

Wiki Maintenance: Pruning, Training, and Making Changes 226

Deciding what to cut and what to keep 227

Training your troops 228

Rolling back changes 231

Avoiding wiki spam 233

Refactoring your wiki 233

Grinding through Routine Administrative Tasks 235

Daily tasks 236

Weekly tasks 236

Monthly tasks 236

Yearly tasks 237

Chapter 13: Protecting Your Wiki 239

Evaluating Threats to Your Wiki 240

Vandalism 240


Enthusiasm 242

Mistakes 242

System failure 243

Running Your Own Change Patrol 243

Rolling back changes 243

Tracking recent changes 247

Controlling Editing Access 249

Preparing for Disaster 250

Backing up your wiki 251

Finding a new home for your wiki 252

Chapter 14: Creating Applications Using Structured Wikis 253

Reviewing Structured Wiki Basics 254

To structure or not: That is the question 254

Using wiki variables 255

Performing functions with variables 256

Some favorites from the wiki variables vault 257

Searching Your Wiki 259

Templating Your Wiki 260

Creating a base topic 261

Creating a basic template 261

Making new pages from templates 262

Finding pages created from a template 263

Simplifying page creation 264

Adding Forms to Your Wiki 265

Creating a database home page 266

Defining a form 266

Enabling a form 268

Creating a template topic 268

Adding a form to the template topic 270

Building an HTML form for topic creation 270

Building a formatted topic list 272

Improving the topic list 273

Adding Wiki Plug-Ins 275

CommentPlugin 276

SpreadSheetPlugin 276

EditTablePlugin 277

InterwikiPlugin 278

TWikiDrawPlugin 278

Finding more plug-ins 279

Part IV: The Part of Tens 281

Chapter 15: Ten Essential Wiki Attitudes 283

Shared Authorship 283

Easier Is Better 284

Throw It Up There 284

Unfinished Is Okay 284

Bold Is Beautiful 284

Set an Example 285

Let It Happen 285

Structure Can Wait 285

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules 286

Follow the Community 286

Chapter 16: Ten Roles People Play When Using Wikis 287

Reader/Researcher 287

Contributor 288

Evangelist 288

Editorial Quality Maven 288

Administrator 289

Operations and Hosting Engineer 289

Wiki Engine Developer 289

Policy and Process Contributor 289

Critic 290

Champion/Founder 290

Chapter 17: Ten Ways How Wikis Work at the Office 291

Shared Repository 292

Reducing “To All” E-Mail 292

Simple Databases 293

Knowledge Management 293

Training 294

Intranet 294

Web Publishing 294

User Documentation 295

Shared Spreadsheets 295

Project Management 295

Chapter 18: Ten Innovative Wikis 297

TiddlyWiki 297

Wetpaint 298

Central Desktop 298

StikiPad 299

wikiCalc 299

WikiTree 300

WikiTimeScale 300

Swicki 301

Kwiki 302

FlexWiki 302

Index 303