Everything you ever wanted to know about Wikis

Are you interested in starting a wiki for your library or organization? Here is a brief overview of what a Wiki is and how to get started.

A wiki is a Web-based application that allows several users to edit and contribute content of any nature or variety. IT can be a very useful tool for your libary or organization because it’s a quick and easy way of storing and updating institutional knowledge. It’s a great way for staff, volunteers, and even patrons to share information or tutorials that could otherwise get lost through employee turn-over.

Interested? Here’s how you get started:

1. First decide what features will work best for your library’s wiki. There are multiple software packages out there (most completely free!) and each offers different features. The easiest way to decide what you’d like on your Wiki is to check out others and get a feel for what could work for your library.

2. Research the various available software packages (see links below) and check them out in action. The most famous Wiki, Wikipedia, uses an open source program called Mediawiki. Other options are ModWiki and WikiWiki.

3. Decide how you will host your wiki. Does your library already have it’s own server? Are you paying for hosting? Remember that to run effectively, Wiki software generally requires a host that supports PHP and MySQL technology. You can verify this easily with your hosting provider. Or would you prefer to start out with a hosted plan (much in the way Blogger works for blogs). There are several free options that would allow you to do this (again, see links below).

5. Establish a goal and guidelines for your wiki. Clearly present this information so that those who are editing and workign on the Wiki will a) know where it is and b) understand the process for adding/editing your Wiki. This is also the time to choose and post a license for your information. Check out Creative Commons for this.

6. Promote it! Send out an e-mail to your library and staff mailing list. Post a link on your homepage and keep it bookmarked on all your library computers. Discuss it at meetings and encourage staff to add and participate. Expect that people will be slow to catch on, but with a little patience, your Wiki can grow into something spectacular!

7. Don’t be afraid to experiment. This is your first try–you’re bound to make a few mistakes. Embrace that and think of this as a great learning opportunity.

A Few Helpful Links:

Wikia–a free hosted wiki program owned by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. A great first stop!

Wikipedia–the famous wiki encyclopedia. Type in “Wiki” in the search bar and find a helpful list of wikis out there

Wiki Farms–a great list of reviews of Wiki Farms (places where you can “grow” your own wiki).



Filed under Resources, Wikis

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