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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 7 months ago

The universality of the World Wide Web makes it a practical platform for collaboration: web pages are accessible by any browser, and browsers are common on every computing platform. However, it is awkward to use the web as a collaborative working environment in which web pages are meant to grow and change under the influence of multiple people. Web pages are usually treated as published documents that are owned and changed by the original author. When web pages are jointly edited by more than one person, much meta-information about the page must be distributed in addition to its URL: who is currently editing the page, where the page is stored in the filesystem, who has permission to write to that filesystem, and so on. In addition, contributors must also become familiar with HTML, or with a tool to help them write HTML, and with the details of fetching the page and returning the edited version back to its location--many skills beyond that needed to simply read the page.


Wiki is a lightweight editing technology for the web that is designed to overcome these barriers. A wiki web page is created by a single author, who defines its initial content and scope. After the page is put onto the web, others may contribute to the page in ways the original author has defined. Contributors do not need to know HTML, nor any HTML tool, nor anything about the filesystem in which the page is stored; in fact, contributors do not even leave their web browsers to make changes to a wiki page. Wiki achieves this through a combination of preserving the document context, prescribing the types of editing allowed, and presenting forms for user interaction. In addition, the interface attempts to leverage existing conventions in order to allow first-time users to feel comfortable initiating an edit without prior instruction.


Wiki is designed to facilitate community-shared web pages. A community-shared web page is a document that not only provides information of interest to a community, but also whose ownership, and therefore future direction, is shared by the community. Wiki's lightweight editing is an implicit invitation to join in the evolution of the web page. It attempts to foster a sense of shared ownership of the page, which will make it more likely that community members will feel comfortable making changes and adding to the document. In contrast, regular web pages are owned by their authors, and even if it is possible to make changes to the page, it is often unclear whether there is permission to do so.

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