History of wikis

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The history of wikis dates from 1994, when Ward Cunningham invented the concept and gave it its name (he gave the name "WikiWikiWeb" to both the wiki, which ran on his company's website at c2.com, and the wiki software that powered it). c2.com thus became the first wiki, or a website with pages that can be edited via the browser, with a version history for each page. Before 1994, however, there were several historical antecedents to wikis. One of the earliest precursors was Vannevar Bush's vision of a microfilm hypertext system which he called the "memex" (1945). Other precursors were an early collaborative hypertext database called the ZOG (1972), and the Apple Computer hypertext system called HyperCard (1987).

The creation of true wikis only became possible with the development of the hypertext protocol of the World Wide Web in 1991 and web browsers such as Mosaic in 1993. In order to facilitate communication between software developers, and also to experiment with the new hypertext capabilities, Cunningham created the first wiki application, which he called WikiWikiWeb (using the Hawaiian word "wiki" in place of "quick"). Cunningham went public with the first wiki in early 1995, inviting a selected group of programmers to participate in the experiment.

Ward Cunningham's first wiki met with immediate success, and quickly spawned alternative wiki applications. The use of wiki websites was rapidly adopted by communities of free software developers, but at first remained confined to these specialised groups. In the meantime, the first wiki, at c2.com, evolved rapidly as features were added to the software and as the growing body of users developed a unique "wiki culture". By 2000, the number of contributors to Ward Cunningham's website had grown so large that conflicts developed between those who wanted to restrict the discussion to computer programming and those who wanted to discuss issues relating to the functioning of the wiki itself.[citation needed] The conflict was resolved by the creation of sister sites MeatballWiki and WhyClublet as separate forums for discussion.

Wikis remained largely unknown outside of circles of software developers until around 2001, when the success of the free content encyclopedia Wikipedia introduced wikis to the general public.[citation needed] After 2001 the number of wiki websites and the varieties of wiki engines (software implementations) increased exponentially. There now exist tens of thousands of wiki websites and hundreds of wiki engines.[citation needed]



A distant precursor of the wiki concept was Vannevar Bush's vision of the "memex," a microfilm reader which would create automated links between documents. In a 1945 essay in Atlantic Monthly titled "As We May Think", Bush described an imaginary future user interface: "Before him are the two items to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing positions… The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined…. Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn…"[1] This vision, though it has been described as predicting the World Wide Web, resembles wikis more than the web in one important way: the system being described is self-contained, not a loose network.

Pre-World-Wide-Web hypertext systems

An indirect precursor of the wiki concept was the ZOG multi-user database system, developed in 1972 by researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University. The ZOG interface consisted of text-only frames, each containing a title, a description, a line with standard ZOG commands, and a set of selections (hypertext links) leading to other frames.

Two members of the ZOG team, Donald McCracken and Robert Akscyn, spun off a company from CMU in 1981 and developed an improved version of ZOG called Knowledge Management System (KMS). KMS was a collaborative tool based on direct manipulation, permitting users to modify the contents of frames, freely intermixing text, graphics and images, any of which could be linked to other frames. Because the database was distributed and accessible from any workstation on a network, changes became visible immediately to other users, enabling them to work concurrently on shared structures (documents, programs, ...). [2]

Three notable hypertext-based systems emerged in the 1980s, that may have been inspired by ZOG, KMS and/or one another: the NoteCards system, developed in 1984 and released by Xerox in 1985; Janet Walker's Symbolics Document Examiner, created in 1985 for the operation manuals of Symbolics computers; and Bill Atkinson's WildCard application, on which he began work in 1985, and which was released in 1987 as HyperCard. [2] Ward Cunningham has stated that the wiki idea was influenced by his experience using HyperCard: he was shown the software by fellow programmer Kent Beck, before its official release (it was still called "WildCard" at the time), and, in his words, was "blown away" by it.[3]

Cunningham used HyperCard to make a stack with three kinds of cards:

  • cards for ideas,
  • cards for people who hold ideas,
  • cards for projects where people share ideas.

(One can recognize here the Patterns, People and Projects that are mentioned on the Front Page of Cunningham's original wiki, the WikiWikiWeb.) Cunningham made a single card that would serve for all uses. It had three fields: Name, Description and Links. Cunningham configured the system so that links could be created to cards that didn't exist yet; creating such a link would in turn create a new blank card.[4]

The World Wide Web

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee of CERN built the first hypertext client, which he called World Wide Web (it was also a Web editor), and the first hypertext server (info.cern.ch). In 1991 he posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, marking the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet.

Early adopters of the World Wide Web were primarily university-based scientific departments or physics laboratories. In May 1992 appeared ViolaWWW, a graphical browser providing features such as embedded graphics, scripting, and animation. However, the turning point for the World Wide Web was the introduction of the Mosaic graphical browser in 1993, which gained wide popularity due to its strong support of integrated multimedia. In April 1994, CERN agreed that anyone could use the Web protocol and code for free.

Post-WikiWikiWeb (1994-2001)

WikiWikiWeb, the first wiki

Ward Cunningham started developing the WikiWikiWeb in 1994 as a supplement to the Portland Pattern Repository, a website containing documentation about Design Patterns, a particular approach to object-oriented programming. [3]

The WikiWikiWeb was intended as a collaborative database, in order to make the exchange of ideas between programmers easier; it was dedicated to "People, Projects and Patterns".[3] Cunningham wrote the software to run it using the Perl programming language. He considered calling the software "quick-web", but instead named it using the Hawaiian word "wiki-wiki", which means "quick-quick" or "very quick",[3] based on his memory of the Wiki Wiki Shuttle at Honolulu International Airport.

Cunningham installed a prototype of the software on his company Cunningham & Cunningham's website c2.com. In an email to Cunningham on 6 November 1994, the server administrator Randy Bush wrote: "You will find the web stuff started and running, but rather content-free. It is in the directory /usr/local/etc/httpd/htdocs. You can send folk to … http://c2.com." Cunningham replied: "Actually, a higher priority for me is completing a first cut at my repository."[5]

A few months later, when the site was functioning, Cunningham sent to a colleague the following email, dated March 16, 1995:

Steve -- I've put up a new database on my web server and I'd like you to take a look. It's a web of people, projects and patterns accessed through a cgi-bin script. It has a forms based authoring capability that doesn't require familiarity with html. I'd be very pleased if you would get on and at least enter your name in RecentVisitors. I'm asking you because I think you might also add some interesting content. I'm going to advertise this a little more widely in a week or so. The URL is http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki. Thanks and best regards. – Ward [5]

Cunningham dates the official start of WikiWikiWeb as March 25, 1995. [3] On May 1, 1995 he sent an email about the website to a number of programmers, which caused an increase in participation. [3] This note was posted to the "Patterns" listserv, a group of software developers gathered under the name "Hillside Group" to develop Erich Gamma's use of object-oriented patterns. Cunningham had noticed that the older contents of the listserv tended to get buried under the more recent posts, and he proposed instead to collect ideas in a set of pages which would be collectively edited. Cunningham’s post stated: "The plan is to have interested parties write web pages about the People, Projects and Patterns that have changed the way they program." He added: "Think of it as a moderated list where anyone can be moderator and everything is archived. It's not quite a chat, still, conversation is possible."[6]

The site was immediately popular within the pattern community. [3]

Initial software clones

Clones of the WikiWikiWeb software were soon developed. PatrickMueller wrote what was probably the first WikiWikiClone, using REXX. [3] Ward Cunningham wrote a version of his wiki software meant for public usage, called "Wiki Base". In his announcement, he wrote: "WikiWikiWeb is almost public. Actually, a pretty good clone of it is public at: http://c2.com/cgi/wikibase. I've translated almost all of the actual wiki script into HyperPerl, a wiki-literate programming system that I think you will like." Visitors were requested to register on the wiki before they took the Wiki Base code. [3]. Cunningham expected users to fold changes back into his editable version, but those who implemented changes generally chose to distribute the modified versions on their own sites. [3]

One of the early clones of Wiki Base was CvWiki, developed in 1997 by Peter Merel. CvWiki was the first Wiki Base clone to have functioning transclusion and backlinks. It was fully integrated with Concurrent Version System (CVS) software, thereby providing unlimited undo and no edit collisions.[7]

Early wiki websites for software development

Inspired by the example of the WikiWikiWeb, programmers soon started several other wikis to build knowledge bases about programming topics. Wikis became popular in the free and open-source software (FOSS) community, where they were used for collaboratively discussing and documenting software. However, being used only by specialists, these early software-focused wikis failed to attract widespread public attention.[8]

Growth and innovations in WikiWikiWeb from 1995 to 2000

The WikiWikiWeb website grew steadily from 1995 to 1998, and then snowballed between 1998 and 2000. Ward Cunningham's statistics about disk-usage show the following progression in the number of 1k blocks consumed by WikiWikiWeb pages: [3]

  • Nov 29 1994: -
  • Dec 15 1995: 2426
  • Dec 1 1996: 5134
  • Dec 31 1997: 10600
  • Mar 25 1998: 14554
  • Dec 2 2000: 62919

Some of the major innovations within WikiWikiWeb from 1995 to 2000, many of which were proposed by the community of users, were: [3]

  • 1995 RecentVisitors, PeopleIndex: pages to help users know who was contributing
  • 1995 NotSoRecentChanges: excess lines from the RecentChanges page were (manually) copied to a file of "ChangesIn<Month>"
  • 1996 EditCopy: offers the possibility to edit the backup copy of a page (this was replaced in 2002 with Page History)
  • 1996 ThreadMode: the form of a page where community members hold a discussion, each signing their own contribution
  • 1996 WikiCategories: categories can be added as an automatic index to pages
  • 1997 RoadMaps: proposed lists of pages to consult about specific topics, such as the Algorithms RoadMap or the Leadership RoadMap
  • 1999 ChangeSummary: an aid to telling which changes added interesting new content and which were only minor
  • 2000 UserName: the Wiki will accept a cookie that specifies a User Name to be used in place of the host name (IP identity) in the RecentChanges log

"ThreadMode" is defined as "a form of discussion where our community holds a conversation." It consists of a series of signed comments added down the page in chronological order. Ward Cunningham generally frowned on ThreadMode, writing: "Chronological is only one of many possible organizations of technical writing and rarely the best one at that." [9]

Cunningham encouraged contributors to "refactor" (rewrite) the ThreadMode discussions into DocumentMode discourse. In practice many pages started out at the top in DocumentMode and degenerated into ThreadMode further down. When ThreadMode became incomprehensible the result was called "ThreadMess". [10] (On Wikipedia the conflict between these two modes has been resolved by putting all document text on the main page of an article, and all discussion text on the Talk page.)

The use of categories was proposed by user Stan Silver on August 27, 1996. [11] His initial post suggested: "If everyone adds a category and topic to their page, then the category and topic pages themselves can be used as automatic indexes into the pages." [12]

Cunningham had originally created his software with the capability to click on the title of a page to see which pages pointed to it. Stan Silver used this reverse index technology to provide lists of the categories: [11] "Go to the CategoryCategory page and press its title to see all categories." [12]

Initially Silver had proposed both categories and topics: categories denoted the specific nature of the page's subject (a book, a person, a pattern), while topics denoted the theme of the page (Java, extreme programming, Smalltalk). However, people ignored this separation, and topics were collapsed into the categories. [11]

The "ChangeSummary" option began as an aid to telling which changes added interesting new content, and which were just minor adjustments of spelling, punctuation, or correction of web links. It started when some users began taking the RecentChanges page, annotating each line with a brief description of each change, and posting the result to the ChangeSummary page. This practice was highly time-consuming and rapidly petered out, but was replaced by the "MinorEdit/RecentEdits" feature, designed to reduce the RecentChanges clutter.[3]

Tensions within WikiWikiWeb and the creation of spinoff sites

Between early 1998 and the end of 2000 participation in WikiWikiWeb snowballed, and the disk space consumed by wiki pages more than quadrupuled. With increased participation tensions began to appear.

In 1998 proponents of Extreme Programming showed up on the site and started posting comments about Extreme Programming on most of the pages related to software development. This annoyed a number people who wanted to talk about patterns, leading to the tag "XpFreeZone", which was put onto pages as a request not to talk about ExtremeProgramming on that page. Eventually most of the DesignPatterns people left to discuss patterns on their own wikis, and WikiWikiWeb began to be referred to as WardsWiki instead of the PortlandPatternRepository. [3]

Around the summer of 1999, user Sam Gentile posted the comment "I'm through here" on his user page, and began systematically removing his text from all pages on WikiWikiWeb that he had contributed to. Gentile worked at Microsoft and had been hurt by what he perceived as anti-Microsoft bias on WikiWikiWeb. His deletions led to controversy about whether he had the right to remove his own material, and whether others had the right to put it back in (which some began to do).[citation needed] This event became referred to as the "WikiMindWipe". It was the first case of massive deliberate deletions of text on the WikiWikiWeb. It would be followed by another. [13]

In April 2000, four Europeans, Richard Drake, Keith Braithwaite, Stephan Houben, and Manfred Schaefer, starting independently, tried to reduce the amount of text on the site by a large number of deletions. [14] They mainly tried to delete material related to wikis, and not about software design patterns.[15] They considered this material to be dead weight, and would have preferred to see it all replaced by concise guidance to newcomers.

Contributors who disagreed with these deletions began copying all of the deleted text back in again. A vote was taken on the issue, and it was proposed that any "reductions" should be pre-announced, with an opportunity for response before action is taken. [14]

The longer-term result of the attack was the formation of WikiWikiWeb "sister sites" later in 2000. Sunir Shah created a wiki called MeatballWiki, intended strictly for wiki-based documentation and discussions. A few months later, Richard Drake created the WhyClublet (or "Why?") wiki to host discussion of Christian issues. Many pages were moved from WikiWikiWeb to these alternative sites, with a stub of the moved page left on the WikiWikiWeb, containing a link to the new page and the message: "This page exists only on SisterSites."

In 2001, Cunningham and user Bo Leuf published a book, The Wiki Way, which distilled the lessons learned during the collective experience of the first wiki.[16]

Other wiki websites, 1999-2000

While many early wiki websites were devoted to the development of open source software, one early wiki was created by the FoxPro company, sellers of proprietary software. FoxPro Wiki was founded in 1999 by Steven Black and evolved into a popular site with many pages. [17]

World66 was a Dutch company which tried to transform the open content idea into a profitable business. The website was founded in 1999 by Richard and Douwe Osinga. It contains travel-related articles covering destinations around the world.

A wiki forum was created in 1999 for discussion of the newly-created PhpWiki software. This became one of the larger software-related wikis.

Clifford Adams began running a wiki for his Usemod Project in 1999 using AtisWiki. Late in 1999 he began running test versions of his own UseModWiki engine, and in 2000 he created the UseModWiki as forum to discuss the UseModWiki software. In April 2000 Adams invited Sunir Shah to install the MeatballWiki on the usemod.com website, using the same UseModWiki software. MeatballWiki was a friendly fork from the WikiWikiWeb, dedicated to online communities, Around the same time, the WhyClublet (or "Why?") wiki was forked from WikiWikiWeb to host discussion of Christian issues.

Sensei's Library, a wiki dedicated to discussion of the game of Go, was created by Morten G. Pahle and Arno Hollosi in October 2000. For its first few years of operation, it was one of the largest and most active wikis on the internet outside of Wikipedia.

Other wiki applications, 1997-2000

Clones of the WikiWikiWeb software began to be developed as soon as Ward Cunningham made the Wiki Base software available online. One of the early clones was CvWiki, developed in 1997 by Peter Merel, which was the first wiki application to have functioning transclusion, backlinks, and "WayBackMode".

Another early wiki engine was JosWiki, developed by an international group of Java programmers who were trying to create a free and open "Java Operating System" (JOS). [18]

TWiki was created in Perl by Peter Thoeny in 1998, based on JosWiki. Twiki was aimed at large corporate intranets. It stored date in plain text files instead of in a database.

PikiPiki was created by Martin Pool in 1999 as a rewrite of WikiWikiWeb in Python Language.[citation needed] It was made to be a small program, using flat files and doing away with versioning (Pool felt that a wiki is not meant to be a document-management system). [19]

PhpWiki, created by Steve Wainstead in 1999 was the first wiki software written in PHP language.[citation needed] The initial version was a feature-for-feature reimplementation of the WikiWikiWeb software. Subsequent versions adopted many features from UseModWiki.

Swiki was written in Squeak by Mark Guzdial and Jochen Rick in 1999.[citation needed] It is used at the Georgia Institute of Technology for collaborative group web pages. One installation of a swiki allows a large number of virtual wikis to be created through the administrative interface using any web browser. A Swiki has its own web server and consists of the Virtual Machine (VM) file, an image file, and a set of files and folders with templates and the virtual wikis.

Zwiki, written in Python in 1999, is based on the Zope web application server (it can also co-exist with the Plone content management system). It was initially developed by Simon Michael and Joyful Systems.[citation needed] It uses a ZODB Object Database.

UseModWiki was developed from 1999 to 2000 by Clifford Adams. UseModWiki is a flat-file wiki written in Perl. It was based on Markus Denker's AtisWiki, which was in turn based on CvWiki. It introduced the square bracket syntax for linking words that was later adopted by many other wiki engines, such as MediaWiki.[20]

MoinMoin, created in Python by Jürgen Hermann and Thomas Waldmann in mid-2000, was initially based on PikiPiki. It is a flat-file wiki with a simple code base but many possible extensions. MoinMoin uses the idea of separating the parsers (for parsing the wiki syntax) from the formatters (for outputting HTML code), with an interface between them, so that new parsers and output formatters can be written.

2001-2003: Wikipedia's early years

The creation of Wikipedia

Until 2001 wikis were virtually unknown outside of the restricted circles of computer programmers.[citation needed] Wikis were introduced to the general public by the success of Wikipedia,[citation needed] a free content encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone.

Wikipedia was originally conceived as a complement to Nupedia, a free on-line encyclopedia founded by Jimmy Wales, with articles written by highly qualified contributors and evaluated by an elaborate peer review process. The writing of content for Nupedia proved to be extremely slow, with only 12 articles completed during the first year, despite a mailing-list of interested editors and the presence of a full-time editor-in-chief recruited by Wales, Larry Sanger.[citation needed] Learning of the wiki concept, Wales and Sanger decided to try creating a collaborative website to provide an additional source of rapidly-produced draft articles that could be polished for use on Nupedia.

Nupedia's editors and reviewers resisted the idea of associating Nupedia with a wiki-style website, so Wikipedia was launched on its own domain, wikipedia.com, on January 15 2001.[citation needed] It initially ran on UseModWiki software, with the original text stored in flat-files rather than in a database, and with articles named using the CamelCase convention. UseModWiki was replaced by a PHP wiki engine in January 2002 and by MediaWiki in July 2002.[citation needed]

Wikipedia attracted new participants after being mentioned on Slashdot as well as in an article on the community-edited website Kuro5hin.[citation needed] It quickly overtook Nupedia. In the first year of its existence, over 20,000 encyclopedia entries were created.

Wikimedia Foundation and first Wikipedia sister projects

Wales, and other members of the Wikipedia user community, founded Wikipedia's first "sister site", Wiktionary, in December 2002; the site was meant to be a collaboratively-created dictionary.

In June 2003, Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization, to manage Wikipedia and all its sister projects going forward. Two additional Wikimedia projects were added soon thereafter: Wikiquote, a reference for notable quotations, and Wikibooks, for collaboratively creating textbooks, both in July 2003.

Development of wiki software, 2001-2002

JSPWiki, created by Janne Jalkanen in 2001, is flat-file wiki software built around JavaServer Pages (JSP). JSPWiki adapted and extended the PhpWiki markup. It is primarily used for company and university intranets as a project wiki or a knowledge management application. Sun Microsystems has integrated JSPWiki into their portal server software.[citation needed] Due to its easy installation, many people also use it as a Personal Information Manager (PIM).

The MediaWiki program was written for Wikipedia in 2002 by Lee Daniel Crocker, based on the user interface design of an earlier PHP wiki engine developed by Magnus Manske. Manske's PHP-based software suffered load problems due to increased use, so Crocker re-wrote the software with a more scalable MySQL database backend. As Wikipedia grew, achieving scalability through multiple layers of caching and database replication became a major concern for the developers. Internationalization was also a major concern[citation needed] (the user interface has been translated into more than 70 languages). One of the earliest differences between MediaWiki and other wiki engines was the use of freely-formatted links instead of links in CamelCase. MediaWiki provides specialized syntax to support rich content, such as rendering mathematical formulas using LaTeX, graphical plotting, image galleries and thumbnails, and Exif metadata. MediaWiki lacks native WYSIWYG support, but comes with a graphical toolbar to simplify editing. One MediaWiki innovation for structuring content is "namespaces". Namespaces allow each article to contain multiple sheets with different standard names: one sheet presents the encyclopedic content, another contains the discussions surrounding it, and so on.

PmWiki was created in PHP by Patrick Michaud in 2002. It is a flat-file wiki engine that was designed to be easy to install and customize. PmWiki offers a template scheme that makes it possible to change the look and feel of the wiki. Customization is made easy through a wide selection of custom extensions, known as "recipes" available from the PmWiki Cookbook.

TikiWiki was created in PHP by Luis Argerich in 2002. It is designed as a CMS and Groupware application. TikiWiki is modular with components that can be individually enabled and customized by the TikiWiki administrator, and extending customization to the user with selectable skins and themes.

coWiki was developed by Daniel T. Gorski in 2002. It was one of the largest projects being developed under PHP5 when that version was still in early development. coWiki used a markup language similar to that of TWiki. It suffered from a mysterious bug called the "bad magic" bug, and became inactive in 2006.

EditMe was developed by the EditMe company in 2002. It was built on Java (hosted) elements, with a MySQL database. Unlike most other early wikis, EditMe was proprietary.

Development of wiki software after 2002

After 2002 the number of wiki engines continued to grow exponentially, as new commercial products were introduced, and as new open-source projects continually forked off of existing ones. For example, the small, easy-to-modify open source wiki engine named WakkaWiki, while having itself been discontinued 2004, has spawned at least five forks: CitiWiki, UniWakka, WackoWiki, WikiNi and WikkaWiki.

As they developed, wikis incorporated many of the features used on other websites and blogs, including:

  • support for various wiki markup styles
  • editing of pages with a GUI editor, WYSIWYG, specific applications such as LaTeX
  • optional use of external editors
  • support for plugins and custom extensions
  • use of RSS feeds
  • integrated email discussion
  • precise access control
  • spam protection

Around 2005 wikis began to be massively confronted with "wiki spam", produced by spammers who enter website addresses onto wikis in order to improve the ranking of the displayed websites by search engines. Various strategies have been developed to counter wikispam. [21]

Other wiki websites, 2001-2003

MeatballWiki rapidly became a popular wiki for discussions of online communities and wiki-related topics. [20] MeatballWiki provided key contributions to a series of innovations in the linking together of wikis which included: [22][23]

  • InterWikiMap on WikiWikiWeb provided a simple InterWiki linking system (2000) [24]
  • Template:Section, the idea of a wiki that helps people find other wikis [25]
  • TourBus project (summer 2002)
  • OneBigWiki (2002), the idea of having one wiki distributed across several servers [26]
  • SwitchWiki (2003): the idea of having one site where one can switch between wikis [27]
  • WikiIndex, an actual wiki listing other wikis, thereby implementing the MetaWiki and SwitchWiki ideas [27]
  • WikiNode, another way to implement InterWiki

SourceWatch (formerly Disinfopedia) is a wiki run by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). It was launched by Sheldon Rampton in March 2003. It aims to produce a directory of public relations firms and industry-funded organizations that influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests.

Javapedia is a project openly inspired by Wikipedia. The project was launched in June 2003 during the JavaOne developer conference; it is intended to cover all aspects of the Java platform.

Wikitravel was started in July 2003 by Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins.

Memory Alpha is a wiki devoted to the Star Trek fictional universe. It was launched by Harry Doddema and Dan Carlson in December 2003. It has become one of the largest wiki projects.

This period also saw the creation of several other general wiki encyclopedias, created either independepently of Wikipedia or meant to serve as an alternative to it in order to fix some perceived weakness in Wikipedia. Susning.nu was a Swedish-language wiki, created in October 2001, meant to serve as an encyclopedia, dictionary, and discussion forum. Enciclopedia Libre was created in February 2002 as a fork of the Spanish-language Wikipedia, by a group of contributors to the Spanish Wikipedia, who left because of fears of censorship and the possibility of the placement of advertising on Wikipedia. Wikinfo was launched in July 2003 as "Internet-Encyclopedia"; it was a fork of the English-language Wikipedia, meant to hold multiple articles on subjects from different points of view, instead of Wikipedia's policy of a single neutral-point-of-view article.[28] WikiZnanie is a Russian-language wiki encyclopedia created in 2003; it took most of its content from the Russian Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary of 1906.

2004-2006: an explosion in interest

The period from 2004 to 2006 saw an explosion in interest in both wikis generally and Wikipedia in particular, and both started to become household terms. Corporations, organizations and other communities began to make increasing use of wikis. Many of the wiki-based sites, technologies and events that dominate today were started during that period.

2004 saw the launch of two major proprietary wiki applications: Confluence in March and JotSpot in October. They joined Socialtext, which had begun in 2002. All three launched with major corporate backing and venture capital, and geared themselves heavily toward corporate usage. JotSpot was bought by Google in 2006 for an undisclosed amount (Google would later release the technology, in modified form, as Google Sites in 2008).

In July 2004, OpenStreetMap, a website to create an open-source street map of the world using wiki functionality, was launched.

In October 2004, the site Wikicities launched, co-founded by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia Foundation board member Angela Beesley. Wikicities was a wiki farm, or a website that provides automated hosting of wikis for others. It was among the first wiki farms, and the first one to be heavily publicized. In March 2006, it changed its name to Wikia. Wikia remains the best-known and most popular wiki farm.

A large number of other notable wiki farms were released soon afterward, including Wikispaces (launched March 2005), PBwiki (launched June 2005, later renamed PBworks) and Wetpaint (launched October 2005). Wikidot was launched in August 2006.

2005 marked the beginning of large-scale wiki-related meetings and conferences. August 2005 saw the first-ever Wikimania, an annual conference organized around Wikimedia Foundation projects, in Frankfurt, Germany. WikiSym, a more academic annual symposium about wikis in general, was first held a few months later, in October 2005, in San Diego, California. RecentChangesCamp, an unconference dedicated to wikis, was first held in February 2006 in Portland, Oregon. All three events remain the three largest wiki-related gatherings.

Hybrid applications that combined wikis with other functionality began to emerge during this period. wikiCalc, a wiki-based spreadsheet application, was launched in November 2005 by spreadsheet pioneer Dan Bricklin. Trac, a project management and bug tracking tool that includes wiki functionality, was first released in October 2006.

In 2005 a number of semantic wiki applications were launched, including the currently best-known one, Semantic MediaWiki (which was first announced at Wikimania 2005).

wikiHow, a popular how-to website, launched in April 2006.

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation

Wikipedia experienced exponential growth in usage and readership during the period from 2004 to 2006, rising in Alexa rankings from the top 1000 websites into the top 15.[29] It was named one of the top 5 global brands of 2006 in the Brandchannel Readers' Choice Awards.[30]

In 2004 the Wikimedia Foundation launched three new sites: Wikispecies, for cataloging species, in August 2004, Wikimedia Commons, to hold images and other media used by the Wikimedia projects, in September 2004, and Wikinews, for publishing collaborative news articles, in December 2004. Wikiversity, intended for tutorials and other courseware, was later launched in August 2006.

In November 2005, journalist John Seigenthaler wrote a much-publicized article in USA Today about Wikipedia's article about him, which for over four months had contained a false statement about him, inserted as a joke, stating that he had been a suspect in the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The article generated a subsequent controversy that both caused Wikipedia to tighten its standards for creating articles, especially articles about living people, and highlighted the growing importance of Wikipedia as a source of information.

During this period, Wikipedia also began to enter the popular culture. A prominent example was the Weird Al Yankovic parody song "White & Nerdy", which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 2006, and contained the lyric "I edit Wikipedia".

2007-present: wikis enter the mainstream

A milestone in public acceptance of wikis was reached in March 2007 when the word "wiki" entered the Oxford English Dictionary.[31]

In 2007, Wikipedia entered the top 10 most popular websites in the world.[32] Wikipedia began to be heavily referenced in television and other media during 2007; see Wikipedia in culture.

In January 2007, DBpedia was launched: a project to publish structured data from Wikipedia in machine-readable, queriable form. By 2008, it became a major component of the Linked Data initiative.[33]

Also in January 2007, Amazon.com released Amapedia, a product-review wiki on its own website.

In August 2008, then-U.S. presidential candidate John McCain was accused of plagiarizing Wikipedia in a speech about Georgia.[34] In June 2009, journalist Chris Anderson admitted to plagiarizing a Wikipedia article in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price; he called it a "screwup", based on lack of clarity on how to cite a specific version of a Wikipedia article.[35]


  1. Vannevar Bush, "As we may think", 1945.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wiki Wiki Origin
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 [hhttp://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiWikiHyperCard Wiki Wiki Hyper Card]
  4. Wiki Wiki Hypercard>
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  7. http://www.123exp-technology.com/t/03881190874
  8. Andy Szybalski, Why it’s not a wiki world (yet), 14 March 2005
  9. Thread Mode
  10. Thread Mess
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 History Of Categories
  12. 12.0 12.1 AboutCategoriesAndTopics
  13. Wiki Mind Wipe Discussion
  14. 14.0 14.1 Wiki Reductionists
  15. Wiki On Wiki
  16. Ward Cunningham and Bo Leuf, The Wiki Way, 2001
  17. Wiki FAQ - Visual FoxPro Wiki
  18. Jos Wiki
  19. Piki Piki
  20. 20.0 20.1 UseModWiki
  21. chongqed.org wiki: WikiHome
  22. ProgressionOfWikiOrganization - WikiNodes
  23. Inter Wiki
  24. Inter Wiki Map
  25. Meatball Wiki: MetaWiki
  26. Meatball Wiki: OneBigWiki
  27. 27.0 27.1 Switch Wiki
  28. Jane E. Klobas, Angela Beesley. Wikis: tools for information work and collaboration, Chandos, 2006, ISBN 1843341794 p. 46
  29. Wikipedia's Alexa ranking milestones (3 month average), Wikimedia Meta
  30. Similar Search Results: Google Wins, Anthony Zumpano, Brandchannel, January 29, 2007
  31. Wiki elevated to Oxford English Dictionary, Lester Haines, The Register, March 16, 2007
  32. Wikipedia Now Among Top 10 Most Popular Sites, Chris Sabga, infopackets, February 23, 2007
  33. Sir Tim Berners-Lee Talks with Talis about the Semantic Web. Transcript of an interview recorded on 7 February 2008.
  34. McCain faces accusations of Wikipedia plagiarism], The Calgary Herald, August 19, 2008
  35. Jaquith, Waldo (2009-06-23). "Chris Anderson’s Free Contains Apparent Plagiarism". The Virginia Quarterly Review. http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/06/24/the-chris-anderson-plagiarism-controversy/. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 

See also

External links

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