Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feature article on Wikis and PmWiki

Upcoming article for PC Magazine Philippines, entitled Build a Web Site Quickly with PmWiki:

Whether researching the scholarly (like the reason behind the Sistine chapel's name) or the trivial (the title of the third episode of say, "The Six Million Dollar Man") one of the first resources that the Internet-savvy turn to is the Wikipedia. In a span of a little over five years, the free online encyclopedia has grown to over five million articles in several languages, including 1.4 million articles in English.

How did the Wikipedia grow so quickly? For one thing, any registered member -- and that means anyone who cares to register -- can add, edit, or even delete pages from the Wikipedia. It's for this reason that traditional educators doubt the Wikipedia's accuracy and neutrality. But no one can deny that its open editability is also its main strength.

Introducing Wikis
The underlying concept beneath the Wikipedia is, as its name suggests, a wiki. A wiki is a kind of website for collaborative authoring. Any word or phrase in a wiki article can be tagged to become a link to another article. It's in this fashion that Wikis grow over time.

Simplicity is key in wikis. Its goal is to make it easy to write entries. No knowledge of HTML is necessary. Instead, wikis use a simplified markup scheme for formatting and linking. For example, double brackets around a word, like [[this]], would turn that word into a link to another page.

Not all wikis have to be freely editable by everyone. Wikis might restrict membership to a group of people, say, team members on a project. Regardless, wikis usually employ some form of version control that lets an administrator restore the previous version of a page. It's a useful feature to have that protects to some degree against vandalism.

6 comments:

  1. hi Domi, I too have just started getting exposed to wikis. Have set-up a small one for my family to keep in touch including the nieces/nephews and siblings. Anyway, one question I have for you is what is the right way to pronounce wiki. I say weekee, but my indian co-worker says whykee. How do "you" say it ? :-)

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  2. Hi, Marianne! Good to hear from you. How's de hubby and de baby?

    Regarding your question, a quick look at the Wikipedia should answer your question:

    A wiki (IPA: [ˈwɪ.kiː] WICK-ee or [ˈwiː.kiː] WEE-kee

    I usually prefer the first pronunciation.

    Next time you get into an argument with your Indian co-worker, tell him you should both check the Why-kipedia. Or...don't tell me he also pronounces it that way?

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  3. hehe. wikipedia I think had been good for internet users in our country because they could add up a lot of information about our nation.

    the best article so far that i'm still whacked about is the detailed episode guides for the television show "Bitag" that airs in untv.

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  4. hey, Dom.

    on the weekee and its open "editability"....

    weird kasi, because most anyone can post entries (words, loosely), you'd think that there'll be lots of errors. and yet...

    i read this article which says that the wikipedia is as often wrong as the britannica is... etcetera.

    you just Have to wonder. and marvel.

    so, goodbye piracy, hello open source?

    how do you alleviate people's fears from trying software that isn't Bill Gates'?

    hay.

    i don't think i made sense. hahaa.

    hey! regards. =)

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  5. Hi, Ian: yep, Dumaguete and other towns in Negros Oriental have a fairly good information footprint in Wikipedia.

    Bitag? What's that? Hmmm...must check the site out.

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  6. Hi, Oli! Long time no hear! How are you?

    Wikipedia makes use of the concept of the wisdom of crowds. After statistically cancelling out the errors in the extreme, you have a more or less accurate picture.

    A recent study said that Wikipedia's science and math entries are on-par with the best.

    On the other hand, Wikipedia isn't quite open source. That's a point that the Economist article some months back got confused about.

    Of course you sense make.

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