Week 15: Wikis

This is it!  You’ve made it to the second-to-last week of 23 Things Kansas. This is the last week of “things”; next week is the wrap-up week! Time sure does fly by fast. I’m Eric Gustafson, director of Morrill Public Library in Hiawatha, and I’m here to talk about Wikis.  If you paid attention during Week 8: Cloud Computing, this might be a review for you. Hey, it’s the last week and you deserve a break.

Introduction

How many people here have heard of Wikipedia? Wait, everyone has? According to Wikipedia (see what I did there), a wiki “is a website that allows the easy creation of and editing of any number of interlinked web pages  via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editor.”

However, why read about it when you can watch a great Common Craft video?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

Sharing/Productivity/Community

The great thing about wikis is the ease with which users can collaborate.  Need to plan a conference or a program?  Think about using a wiki. Looking for a great way to create a knowledge base that everyone can contribute to? Maybe a wiki is right for you.

Wikis have several advantages over more traditional websites:

  • Like a blog, a wiki allows you to edit with an easy to use interface.
  • Wikis are built to handle multiple users.  You can choose who you want to edit your wiki.
  • Wikis are searchable with search functionality built right into the site.
  • Wikis are designed with collaboration in mind, so it is easy to add and link new pages.

Obviously, there are many possible ways in which a wiki can be used in the library environment, so be sure to keep that in mind the next time that you have a collaborative project!

Tools

There are a number of sites (these are often called “wiki farms”) that will allow you to create your own free wiki and I will highlight two of the most popular here.

PBworks

This site’s name, formerly PBwiki, comes from the idea that making a wiki is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich.  Launched in 2005, it was one of the early wiki farms and now boasts over 1,000, 000 wikis. One of the advantages of this site is that the free version does not have ads.

Wetpaint

This wiki farm, launched shortly after PBworks, shares many of its functionalities. It has added some social networking functions and boasts a slick interface. However, the free version is heavily peppered with ads.

There are many other wiki farms that you could choose to use and not surprisingly, Wikipedia has a great comparison of them.

This Week’s Instructions and Activities

Activity #1

For the first activity this week, I would like you to try editing an established wiki (and blog about the experience). In most cases, that means finding a wiki and choosing the “edit” or “edit this page” options. Sometimes you will be prompted to create an account, and some times you won’t; it really depends on the individual wiki. With Wikipedia, you don’t need an account to do this. For example, you could find your hometown on Wikipedia and add an interesting or little known fact. Or maybe there is an error in the entry for your favorite author that you could correct.

Here are some wikis that you might consider editing:

Just remember that there are lots of wikis out there on many different subjects, so it’s good to explore. If you are really uncomfortable editing a wiki, please explore some examples of wiki use and write about your experience in your blog.

Activity #2

For one of the final activities in 23 Things Kansas, I would like you to use a wiki to collaborate with your peers! I have created a wiki for this purpose, so let’s get started.

  1. Visit the 23 Things Kansas wiki that I have created.
  2. Find the page titled 23 Things Kansas Participants and click on the easy edit button and either
    1. Sign in with an existing Wetpaint account,
    2. Sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, or Windows Live account OR
    3. Create a new Wetpaint account.
  3. Once signed in, you should be able to click on the add a new page link to add a new page to the site. A window should open with several options.  Please be sure to
    1. Set the page location so it is under 23 Things Kansas Participants by selecting move page and clicking on 23 Things Kansas Participants.
    2. Enter your name as the page name
    3. Then click on add page. You should see your page appear.
  4. Navigate to your page and choose the easy edit option.  Tell the group what you enjoyed most about 23 Things Kansas and feel free to spice up the page with a photo or embedded video.  Don’t forget to save when you are finished!
  5. Link your new page from the 23 Things Kansas Participants page by
    1. Navigating to said page
    2. Clicking on easy edit
    3. Typing your name on the list
    4. Using the mouse to highlight the text of your name and choose the link button in the upper right hand corner. This should open a window from which you can use the find page option to select your newly created page from the list. Don’t forget to save when finished!

If you have any questions about either activity, please ask on the listserv or post in the comments area of this blog post and I will be happy to help!

Congratulations on completing 23 Things Kansas! (But don’t forget about Wrap-up Week next week!)

17 thoughts on “Week 15: Wikis

  1. I completed Activity #1 and wrote about it on my blog. I am not comfortable at this time editing a wiki – I did fill out the survey form on Library Camp Kansas.

    I will work on Activity #2 later.

  2. I was somewhat intimidated with this week’s lesson, that is until I ‘got my feet wet” and just went for it. I chose Tyler Perry as my Wiki lesson and after I got the hang of navigating, I was able to edit a section under his movies and add my comments. This is the site

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Perry

    and my addition is the section under Film, the second paragraph from the bottom. It is about the movie Why Did I Get Married Too? Really enjoyed the lesson.

  3. I enjoyed activity #1. I had difficulty, however, with activity #2 as I can’t locate the link button. I’d appreciate having some assistance with this. Other than this one glitch, I thought working with wikis was fun.

  4. I think this has been a great 15 weeks. I hope to use many of the ideas at my library job. Thank you to all the instructors and friends of 23 Things Kansas!

  5. Hi Debby,
    In order to link your page, you will need to edit the “23 Things Kansas Participants page.” Just choose easy edit on that page and then enter your name as text. Highlight your name with the mouse and then look for the link button in the upper right hand corner. You will then need to select your page from the list. Does this make sense?

  6. This week was one of the fun ones. I like being able to add to Wikipidia. I had never really thought about editing a wiki before. I have always wanted to be a writer and this is a great place to start.
    Thank you to everyone involved with 23 Things for your time and patience as we learn. I really appreciate your efforts! You Rock!

  7. I enjoyed working with this lesson, but Just a little extra info for any Mac users, I was trying Safari, (which is what I usually use) to edit the 23 Things WIKI, but I couldn’t get the link to work. It DID work on Firefox, just fine. So, Safari is ruled (in my mind) as not friendly to Wetpaint!!

  8. Safari is a yes/no with Wetpaint. I went to ’23 Things Kansas’ ‘participants’ and at the bottom of the list you will see an ‘add a new page’ link. This worked. But, you have to choose a blank template. The wiki can be text-only. Clink on the Easy Edit toolbar. You should be able to start typing text. Click SAVE on the Easy Edit toolbar. A pop-up ‘Add a Edit Note’ will show, click ‘skip edit note’. Your done! and hopefully you have a wiki!
    Wetpaint was fussy for Safari. I had best luck by logging in using my Facebook account. But still ,,,,,, took two tries to get anything to post. I love a tech challenge !!
    (and a word of warning, you can’t delete the page. I just renamed my 1st mess of a page to TRASH. my thought, next time if I mess up I’ll just move that page there too!)

  9. Eric, I am having problems with Activity 1. I think I can edit a page but am struggling to find something that I have knowledge to change. I was searching through pages for ideas and thinking maybe I would create a new page when I did a search for the State Library of Kansas and up comes this message, “This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. (January 2008).” I looked at the quality standards and froze. I am not sure what was not up to standards on the State page nor do I think I could write my own. Do you have any suggestions?

  10. Carol Braum, forget to say …… thanks for giving me a challenge! I think sometimes we learn best when we experience a failed attempt first!

  11. Charlene,

    Often when Wikipedia has that kind of message on a page, they are looking for you to add citations. So, for example, if you were able to find the press release announcing the appointment of Jo Budler as State Librarian, you could add a references section and then cite that press release. The good news is that you only need to edit as much as you are comfortable with, so the changes can be as small as you like.

    Or you can always write about your experience in attempting to edit!

    I hope that this helps!

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  13. Woooo-hooooooo! Just got my 23 Things Kansas Participants wiki page linked up! Hooray! One more activity to complete!

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