(+) What is a Wiki and Why Should I Care?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

A funny-sounding word is being found frequently on the Internet: wiki. It is not a creature from Star Wars, and it is not a strange animal from Australia. In fact, a wiki is a bit of software that gets its name from the Hawaiian or Polynesian word for “quickly.” The shuttle buses at the Honolulu airport are called “Wiki Wiki,” meaning to go quickly and easily. Now the word is creeping into genealogy vocabularies.

In the words of wiki inventor Ward Cunningham:

“A wiki is the simplest online database that could possibly work.”

Imagine that you visit someone else’s web site and discover that you can change anything on that site at any time. You can edit the page you’re reading to comment on it, add to it, or correct the content. On a long page that has evolved over time, you can summarize portions and tighten up the wording. You can add a link to a relevant resource to help visitors who want to know more. You can even create new pages and link them to existing pages on the site. You can do all this, even though it is not your web site. This is the idea behind a wiki.

Does this sound like anarchy? Why would anyone allow others to add, modify or delete pages on a web site? Practice has shown that this is not only a good idea, but one of the highest-rated and most popular web sites in the world is a wiki.

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