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Wikis can been used in a wide variety of ways. Currently, most wikis act as knowledge repositories and chatter-boxes.
- WebLog and HomePage -- the software acts as simple and efficient ContentManagement? and allows ReaderFeedback?. Usually the site owner dominates the wiki.
- ChatterBox -- readers have the same rights as site owners, and discussion goes wherever the interest of the people are.
- KnowledgeRepository? -- readers and owners have a strong interest to keep on topic, so most pages accumulate knowledge about certain topics. If topic is not maintained, the wiki may degrade to a ChatterBox (see WikiLifeCycle). If interests diverge, a split may be in order (see WikiFork?, RightToFork).
- WebEducation? -- wikis are a great way to introduce children and newbies to web publishing. They are simple to use, have immediate feedback, look like regular web pages, and are published on the world wide web.
There are also some inappropriate or just bad uses of wiki technology.
- WikiCopOut -- instead of creating documentation, providing customer or user support, writing a FAQ, etc., companies or groups simply throw up some wiki software and say, "Figure it out yourself."
I wonder if there's a difference between a KnowledgeRepository? and a Wiki dedicated to creation of a nebulously-defined end product. Examples of the latter might include WikiPedia, OpenGuides, or other WikiMedia projects, but the one I'm thinking of in particular is WikiTravel (surprise surprise). In particular, Wikitravel's goal is not to create a wiki, but to create text. That text can be served through the wiki -- preferable and great -- but also may be re-used for offline purposes. A CD or print version of WikiPedia would be the same thing. Wiki is a tool to create, in these cases, but not an end in itself. One parallel from ArtificialIntelligence is the BlackBoardModel -- various simple agents work together to solve a problem (see http://www.pcai.com/web/ai_info/blackboard_technology.html). Maybe BlackBoard? is a good name for this use of wiki? --EvanProdromou
I usually call this use WhiteBoard? instead of BlackBoard?, I don't know why; it seems to be a more common name for this sort of thing. Maybe also CollaborativeWordProcessor?.
- Yes, WhiteBoard?ing is the common name for real-time collaborative editing. I like the BlackBoard? name because it echoes the BlackBoardModel, which is a little more apt -- whiteboarding tends to be just brainstorming, not actually creating a document. But, hey -- let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes. --EvanProdromou