Editor's note, 11/04: The JOMA Developers' Area Wiki no longer exists, but this article is still a good introduction to wikis. On page 2, the link to our own wiki has been disabled. In place of the wiki, we encourage you to make use of our "discussion" feature to add your own ideas to our articles and other materials. DAS
You've visited many web sites that are clearly out of date. You know the information is no longer relevant, and you could easily update the information, if only you had permission. Perhaps you take the time to e-mail the webmaster, or perhaps you just move on. You've probably been to other web sites that listed interesting resources. You tried to follow the links but found that they were broken. In some cases, it's as simple as knowing that one company has been acquired by another and that the pages have moved. You could easily add this information to the page but, again, you don't have permission. Finally, you're reading an opinion on a web page, and you'd like to add a comment or even create your own web page and just link to it. Again, you don't have permission.
Daniel Steinberg is Director of Java Offerings for Dim Sum Thinking, Inc.
Should you have permission? Sites such as MAA Online need to present a professional, well thought out image to the public -- they can't afford to let you edit content on their main page. On the other hand, the JOMA Developers' Area can benefit from providing dynamic web pages that allow you to participate in various discussions in meaningful ways. There are other technologies that accomplish this, such as newsgroups and bulletin boards, but wikis are different.
Imagine that you visit a web site where everything can be changed at any time. You can edit the page you're reading to comment on or correct the content. On a long page that has evolved over time, you can summarize portions and tighten it up. You can add a link to a relevant resource to help visitors who want to know more. You can even create your own pages and link them to pages on the site. This is the idea behind a wiki.
Wikis aren't for everyone, but in certain situations they are the perfect solution. In this article you'll get a quick overview of how and when to use a wiki. The Developers' Area in JOMA can benefit from an open community discussion -- we invite you to visit and participate in our wiki, to which we link in the next section.
Initially, wikis are scary. If you can change, add to, or remove content, then so can anyone else. You're not really sure that you trust these other people. We'll consider this issue as well.
Published June, 2002
© 2002 by Daniel Steinberg