Wikis – a primer

2 min read

Marketing Strategy

Today we continue our primer series with an excerpt from the IAB’s User Generated Content, Social Media, and Advertising – An Overview.

In its most basic sense, a Wiki is collaboration, a Web site built through the contributions of many individuals.

Though not all wikis are open to everyone—indeed, many require some kind of membership or qualification to contribute—they are in many ways the most democratic manifestation of user-generated content. These individuals may never meet, or live in the same country, or even communicate, but the principle behind wikis is simple: All the world’s expertise, knowledge, and creativity can be harnessed through Internet collaboration.

The most instructive and well-known example of a wiki is Wikipedia, the free online, publicly editable encyclopedia. Launched in 2001, it has quickly become one of the most prominent—even trusted—reference sites on the Web. As of December 2007, it boasted more than 2 million articles in 253 languages, making it the largest encyclopedia ever. Nearly every article on Wikipedia is publicly editable, and changes appear immediately, though only registered users can create new articles. For the most part, accuracy and “neutrality,” a key principle behind Wikipedia, are enforced by the community. There is, however, a hierarchy of volunteer editors, who, at the top levels, have the authority to delete content and lock articles.