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Do It Yourself

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

Do It Yourself


In a recent Sirsi Dynix Institute talk entitled Wiki: The Ultimate Tool for Online Collaboration, Meredith Farkas discusses the many issues to consider once you've decided that you would like to try this wiki thing out for yourself.


Before you go out there on the web and randomly choose a wiki software, use these criteria to help you choose the option that fits best with the goals you have for your wiki.


1. To host or not to host

Many wiki software options (PBWiki, Schtuff, and SeedWiki are some examples) enable you to store your wiki on a hosted server, or wiki farms as they're called. This is the best option if you aren't too tech-savvy or don't have access to your own server. You can opt to install wiki software on your own server, but this requires a bit more technical know-how. However, it does provide the administrator with more control and there are more software options if you choose to do it this way. Mediawiki, PhpWiki, and PmWiki, for example, are programs that work this way.


2. Programming language

Many wiki software programs are written in PHP, and others feature Perl, Ruby, or Python. This is mainly an issue to consider if you've chosen to host and install the wiki on your own server. If PHP and Python are foreign languages to you, don't worry, you can still start and use a wiki!


3. Ease of use

Many software options are easier to use than others. When it comes to this consideration, think about the skills and know-how of the population that you hope to serve with your wiki. Remember to make it as easy as possible for others to collaborate and add content - that's the whole point of the wiki.


4. Security issues

Whom do you want to add content to the wiki you set up? Will your wiki be open to everyone, or do you want only a select group of people to be able to add content, such as only Reference Librarian staff? Are the security options customizable? Each software option has different security capabilities. This is a very important feature to check out.

5. Cost

Many wikis, such as PBWiki, WikiMedia, Schtuff, etc. are free up to a certain amount of storage space. For example, PBWiki allows you to upgrade for $5,10,25/month for added features such as ad-free pages and advanced permissions.


6. Syntax

Each wiki has its own editing language. Many of the free, web-hosted options are moving more in the way of WYSIWYG, (what you see is what you get) and editing your pages is as easy as creating a word document. Click on the "B" button if you want bold, for example.

7. Discussion / Comment Options

Do you want you wiki users to be able to discuss the content of the pages on the wiki? Some programs enable comments for each page, while other only allow for comments on the wiki as a whole.

8. RSS Options

Many of the wiki software options allow you to track changes to a wiki through the use of RSS. Simply subscribe to the feed, and see updates in your aggregator. Some programs only allow for RSS feeds for the wiki as a whole, while others enable RSS for each individual page.

9. Can I make it look pretty?

A lot of the software looks pretty much the same, but many of the options allow you to significantly alter the look of your wiki. This might be especially helpful if you're hoping to incorporate your wiki into your parent institutions' website. You will have more flexibility with the programs that are hosted on your own server, as opposed to the Wiki Farm options.


Once you have considered these issues and have a pretty good idea of what you want from your wiki software, visit the Wiki Matrix.

This site provides detailed descriptions of over 50 wiki software choices, and enables you to compare features of various wikis side-by-side. It also has a neat feature called the Wiki Choice Wizard, which recommends wiki software options based on your answers to a few basic questions. Wiki Choice Wizard then displays the details of your recommended options in spreadsheet fashion in order for you compare their features side by side. Great place to start!


Some recommended software options:


This is the software used for the famous Wikipedia. Many people have attested to its ease of use. (A DIY wiki, which means it is hosted on your own server, installed by you.)



We like this one, and can attest to its relative ease of use. It is a fairly popular wiki software, and a result, there is a lot of documentation out there in addition to a very popular members forum. (A hosted wiki, which means your wiki is on the company's server.)



This application allows your wiki to look like an actual website, but allows for easy adding and editing of pages. (A DIY wiki, which means it is hosted on your own server, installed by you.)




This is a free wiki software option, and works as a traditional wiki, but with a few new added features, such as tagging, custom permissions, and an image gallery.

(A hosted wiki, which means your wiki is on the company's server.)



Seed Wiki

Very easy to use, this is a free hosted wiki for those who do not have their own server space. There are some charges for upgraded features, such as password protection and customization. (A hosted wiki, which means your wiki is on the company's server.)

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