You’ve no doubt heard of Wikipedia, the so-called “free online encyclopedia.” But have you visited Wookieepedia, the wiki devoted to Star Wars? How about LyricWiki, a database for millions of song lyrics?
There are different wikis spread across the Internet that specialize in a wide variety of topics. Everything from the practical (Wiktionary) to the just-plain obsessive (Lostpedia, after ABC’s popular science fiction drama “Lost”) is covered, and making a wiki page is actually easier than you think. “I can really make my own wiki?” you might be asking, and yes, you sure can. All it takes a little patience and lot of time to spare.
What is a Wiki?
The term “wiki” actually comes from the Hawaiian word for “quick,” and that’s ultimately the goal of any wiki page — to provide quick access to relevant and factual information. The most popular wiki, as mentioned, is Wikipedia, but wikis can serve a whole host of other functions beyond just reference. Typically, wikis are content management systems, but they differ greatly from blogs because they can be edited and contributed to by the users.
Take the AMC cable television network’s breakout hit “Breaking Bad,” for example. Say I want to create my own wiki as a means of compiling information about the show’s five seasons and various characters. Well, someone has already beaten me to it, but let’s pretend otherwise.
First, I’d have to get to know wiki markup, the language used for writing page entries on different wiki systems. By contributing articles written using this form (similar to HTML but different in its own right), my wiki page would read just like any other. This uniform system makes wikis very easy to comprehend and, when the information is incorrect or needs to be updated, edit.
Next, I’d explore the number of installable tools available for making my own wiki page devoted to “Breaking Bad,” including TiddlyWiki, Zim Wiki and others. One of the most important aspects of creating my own wiki page is finding out how I’m going to get it hosted. Hopefully, I can find a free wiki host that will keep my page up without any cost to me for the maximum benefit of wide readership.
There’s WikiSpaces, which charges a small fee in order to prevent advertisements on its pages. There’s Wikia, the host of the current “Breaking Bad” wiki, which has already approved hundreds of thousands of wiki page ideas. There’s also MediaWiki, which you can use (as Wikipedia does) to handle high traffic numbers. Most wikis will require an environment where My SQL wiki, PHP and Apache programs can run for the benefit of the site.
Now, my “Breaking Bad” wiki is more or less ready to go, so it’s time to promote the heck out of it. I’ll tell my friends on Facebook. I’ll tweet about it. I’ll look into a Creative Commons license to protect the content. Then, I’ll share my wiki page for all the world to see.