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Silicon Valley Commons

Wanna wiki?

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I created this page in response to a request from Idealist.org. I posted their letter on the discussion page. Many thanks to Beth Kanter for pointing me to most of the resources cited here. Idealist.org adapted the material into their How-to section - Leo


Step-by-step instructionsEdit

I created a page on how to create wikis for Idealist meetings.

Free wiki sitesEdit

source: Exploring the World of Wikis, Brian Satterfield, Techsoup

"Creating a wiki using a third-party wiki-hosting service is a sensible choice for many nonprofits, as this option requires minimal setup and no advanced technical knowledge. Since setting up a simple wiki on a third-party site won't cost you a lot of money or time, your organization will not sustain major losses if the wiki doesn't gain traction."

I've added notes on the licenses that these sites use. I prefer the GFDL license because it's the one that allows the freest sharing of knowledge. - Leo

BluWiki

Based on the MediaWiki engine, will be familiar for anyone who's ever contributed to Wikipedia (which also uses MediaWiki). Appropriate for projects that are open to the public. License: GFDL.

EditThis.info

Also based on the MediaWiki engine. You can create public wikis, but also private wikis and specify which types of changes registered users can make. License: Creators set their own.

JotSpot

[Was acquired by Google, and is currently closed to new registrations]. JotSpot's free wiki-hosting service limits you to five registered users and a maximum of 20 pages.

PB Wiki

This service allows you to create a free, ad-supported wiki that you or others at your organization can edit. Upgrading to a paid subscription (starting at $5 per month) does provide greater control over user permissions. License: Creators set their own.

Wikia

Founded by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley, hosts more than 2,000 wikis, including Silicon Valley Commons, home of the Idealist Silicon Valley group. Appropriate for projects that are open to the public. License: GFDL.

A (long) note from Leo: some of the reasons I chose Wikia: (1) They have good tech & community processes for fighting spammers & trolls - the main enemies of open wikis such as ours; (2) A huge number of improvements in the pipeline, and a 15-person engineering team working full time on new stuff all the time; (3) Actively promotes the wikis it hosts; (4) The people behind it. Wikia is led by Jimmy Wales, who believes strongly in Wikia's role to enable users to change the world by doing what they love. Creating Wikipedia was just the first step in offering knowledge freely to everyone. Investors include Mitch Kapor, Marc Andreessen and the Omidyar Network - all big players in the information revolution. (5) All ad proceeds go to Wikia, and that's one way we wiki founders and users further the cause.

Wikispaces

Creating a free, ad-supported account at Wikispaces gets you 2GB of storage space and support for an unlimited amount of users, though this option will only let you create public or protected wikis. If you need a completely private wiki or don't want to look at ads, upgrade your account for a monthly $5 fee, or $50 per year. (Wikispaces Plus Plans are available on TechSoup Stock to qualifying nonprofits for an administrative fee of $10 for a year subscription.) License: Creators set their own.

see also: Comparison of wiki farms in Wikipedia

Examples of useEdit

Copy

Here are some pages from which you might pinch ideas (click on any "edit" tab and copy what you want):

The minimalist table of contents for the Silicon Valley group

The main page of our startup meeting

Our Organizers page

Notes from one of our prep meetings

The agenda we developed for our startup meeting

Notes some of us took from the meeting

Feedback from the startup meeting


Q&AEdit

What are the benefits of setting up the wiki?Edit

A wiki is a website that allows users to add, remove, and otherwise edit and change content. It also allows for linking among any number of pages. Each article has a discussion page where editors can talk about the document. And by looking at the history of a page, users can track changes, and compare the versions of a document. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative writing.

While there are a plethora of collaborative tools and technologies available today, what makes the wiki so interesting is that it is the most radically open of all tools, enabling anyone to change anyone else's content in mere seconds. Therefore, it very quickly gets at the heart of the human, social challenges to managing and creating knowledge. - from Thinking About Wikis by Elizabeth Albrycht, New Communications Review

Are there any potential problems or disadvantages?Edit

The biggest enemy of any open wiki is vandalism. Many good wikis have shut down because it takes too much time to reverse the damage that vandals and spammers cause. For this reason, it makes sense to use a host that has robust controls and an active community that guards against abuse.

How did you encourage people to participate?Edit

I didn't really. I just let people know that if they want to use the wiki they can, and pointed them to Help documents and other resources.

How did you maintain the wiki and keep up the momentum?Edit

We're just beginning to appreciate what wikis can do. Members of our Silicon Valley group used the wiki to give brief self-introductions, to post their notes and feedback on our startup meeting, and to post their notes from meetings of the organizers.

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