Wikis are built by their contributors - readers who add, remove and edit content. This typically goes one of two ways - an open model where anyone (and we mean anyone) is invited to contribute or a closed model where a select group are invited to contribute. Either way, it is an exercise in collaboration and trust - whomever contributes is expected to meet certain standards of quality and accuracy and should expect, should they not reach these standards, that another participant will edit their contributions. The goal is to use a wiki to create a collaborative piece of information, sharing the knowledge of all contributors.
The collectiveWikipedia is the best known example of a wiki - anyone can participate in contributing and editing entries. Wikipedia does, however, employ staff who will freeze a topic if foul play is reported by readers. Errors and obvious fakeries are often (though, not always) corrected very quickly.
But if anyone can edit an entry how reliable is the information? A recent survey by Stern found that the German language version of Wikipedia was more accurate than the leading German language encyclopedia, Brockhaus. “The study reviewed articles for accuracy, completeness, up-to-date information, and ease of reading. In 43 out of the 50 articles, the German Wikipedia came out on top.” This Information Today article also offers a range of opinions.
Communities of interest
Wikis can be used for sharing knowledge in a community of interest, for example :
- the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
- Blogging libraries wiki
- Reader advisory services wiki - a wiki written by, and for, your New South Wales public library colleagues.
Wikis can also be used in the workplace, for example the CIA developed Intellipedia - a collaborative intranet tool.
Some libraries have adopted intranet based wikis for their procedure manuals. Here is an example from Antioch University, New England. Please note many wikis like this one would be hosted on an intranet for staff only access
Some governments are using wikis as ways of consulting with the community or for interdepartmental collaboration. The New Zealand Police Act review wiki is an example of a wiki being used for a legislative review.
Discover: Take a look at least 3 of the below:
- the SJCPL Subject Guides wiki
- Wisconsin Heritage Wiki (hint – follow the link to collections)
- Mint Museums, North Carolina use a wiki to highlight their objects
- the full Library Success: A best practices wiki
- Book Lovers Wiki at the Princeton Public Library
- Montana History Wiki (hint follow the link to the subject guides)
Create a blog post about your findings. What did you find interesting? What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?
Still another variation in the world of wikis is where your wiki lives - you can install wiki software on a server at your institution (like we do with our website and email) or you can use a service that hosts the wiki for you. For today's exercise, we'll be doing the latter - our NSW learning 2.0 wiki was set up with a service called PB Wiki. Look at the PB Wiki tour.
Once you have viewed the PB wiki tour add information or edit an entry in the NSW learning 2.0 wiki. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added as a writer to the wiki[Hint: PB wiki works best using Firefox as a browser. ]
This wiki is built using pbwiki (also a free wiki website) and features Examples of Possible Next Generation Catalogs. Look at the PB Wiki tour.
Look up the entry for your local town or area in Wikipedia. How could it be improved? Edit the entry. [hint here is the Wikipedia tutorial to get you going] For ideas see the entry for Mosman, New South Wales.