At a glance

Policy stage: 
Level of involvement: 
Cost: 
Varies
Length of process: 
Ongoing
Number of participants: 
1 - 500+
Online / Offline: 
Online

The term wiki is used to describe a piece of software that allows multiple dispersed authors to edit the content of web pages.

Description

A wiki is collaborative software that allows users to comment on and change one another's text. It enables documents to be written by several authors at the same time. It can also be a database for creating, browsing, changing and searching information, e.g. Wikipedia.org.

Pages can be uploaded or amended by users who are normally asked to register beforehand, but registration is open to the general public. Every wiki has a 'recently updated' section which lists the recent edits, time and name of user. Wikis can be used to allow participants to edit and contribute to documents, developing shared knowledge or commenting on existing ideas and proposals.

Participants

  • Anyone with computer and internet access can theoretically amend a wiki. However, many wikis are restricted to particular users in order to create a safe space for discussion and co-creation.

Costs

Medium:

  • Wiki software does not have to be expensive but it requires skilled staff to run and manage the creative chaos that wikis can become. You can create your own free wiki using Google Sites.

Approximate time expense

Various:

  • Wikis can be time limited and linked to a particular project or ongoing features that are allowed to develop over time. In order to gain the most benefits from wikis they should be allowed to be online for a few months so that people are able to engage with the content posted by others and respond by posting their own ideas and thoughts.

Strengths

  • Makes collaborative working easier
  • Contributions can be made in own time
  • Through the involvement of many users the final result can become more than the sum of its parts

Weaknesses

  • Critics argue that the wiki systems can be easily tampered with
  • Content can be inappropriate or malicious
  • Wikis require moderation
  • Getting users to contribute in the first place can be difficult
  • Wikis cannot be used to make decisions

Origin

eDemocracy

The word wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for 'fast', but the acronym of 'what I know is' has also been used to describe the term. Wikis were developed in the 2000s as an online collaboration tool.

 

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