A wiki is a website that uses wiki software installed for the purposes of content collaboration by multiple users. This software allows everyone who accesses a webpage to contribute or modify content using a very simple web markup language. Wikis are widely used by non profit organizations, businesses, activists and the public to create online repositories of knowledge.



The first wiki was developed by Ward Cunningham in 1994 and was named WikiWikiWeb after the Honolulu Airport “Wiki Wiki” Shuttle bus. Wiki means ‘quick’ in Hawaiian, so wiki-wiki-web literally means ‘very quick web’.



The webpages on a wiki are created and edited while visiting the desired webpage with a web browser and using the functionality provided by the wiki software installed on the site; this usually consists of user friendly buttons such as “edit” and “save.” In order to modify an existing page, users visit the page, select “edit,” type their changes and save. Changes made to an individual wiki page are implemented instantaneously and can be easily reverted later on. For the purposes of discussion and moderation, ‘discussion’ or ‘talk’ tabs are usually added to each webpage.


Issues and Types

Wikis may be both public and private.

Private wikis are typically used by businesses or organizations that wish to share information internally. In such systems, access to and editing privileges for the wiki require user authentication. The web address itself is also often kept private, or the wiki may reside on a company intranet (a private computer network) and not on the World Wide Web.

Public wikis are accessible by anyone with a computer and access to the internet. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia, for example, can be viewed by anyone. although even public wikis still sometimes restrict some material. The english language Wikipedia allows any visitor to edit webpages, while the German language Wikipedia only allows users who are currently logged in with a valid user account to edit pages on the site (although those without a user account may still browse those pages). Although locking content makes wikis somewhat less accessible to anonymous browsers, it does provide enhanced security and the ability to vette material for reliability.