Wednesday, April 19, 2006

which wiki?

http://www.wikimatrix.org/ offers a useful service by which you can choose and compare the wikis on offer. There are 45 wikis to choose from on their sidebar.

They have a choice wizard, which I used to obtain a short list. The choice issues raised by the wizard were:
(1) History
A page history is a very basic feature but not available in all Wikis. When available, every time a page is edited the old version of the document is kept. People can later go back to an older revision and restore it if needed.

A page history is crucial for publicly editable Wikis to ensure that spam and vandalism can be reverted. For private or personal Wikis this may not be necessary.

I chose Yes. This was a very easy decision for me since I wanted a publicly editable wiki.
(2) WYSIWYG
Most Wikis use a simple markup language to format texts, but recently some Wikis introduced real WYSIWYG editors as known from desktop text processors.

On the one hand WYSIWIG editors make it very easy for non-tech savvy users to contribute. On the other hand experienced users often prefer a simple markup for its greater flexibility and faster text entry.

I chose Yes, since I wanted to make things as easy as possible for non-tech savvy users.
(3) Software or hosted?
You can either set up your Wiki software on your own hardware or you can simply subscribe to a hosted service on the Internet which will run the Wiki for you.

Running your own software installation gives you more control over the Wiki, but you may need to fulfill some requirements to do so.

When you go for the hosted option, you don't have to fiddle with any software installation, but you are restricted to what the service offers.

I chose hosted. I don't have access to my own server and I'm not a techie (confession) so I prefer the convenience of a hosted service.
(4) Your Own Domain?
Most Wiki hosting services provide either a subdomain in the form http://.wikihosting.com or a subdirectory like http://www.wikihosting.com/. If you like to run a Wiki for your business you may want to use your own domain.

Should using your own domain be supported?

I chose No because I'm looking for something that school students can also use.
(5) Corporate Branding
Some Wiki hosters allow to change how the Wiki looks like. This is important if you like the Wiki to match your corporate identity or if you plan to integrate the Wiki into an existing web presence.

Do you need corporate branding?

I chose No. Although I like css and setting up a new look might be important in the future this is not a big consideration for me at this stage.

This process narrowed down my choice to CentralDesktop, JotSpot, Socialtext, StikiPad and Wikispaces. I was then offered a Compare Them link which took me to a Wiki Feature Comparison chart, which compared the wikis against over one hundred different features. This final step of the process was more difficult for me because there was so much to look at. Free version and storage quota were important considerations but word of mouth played a decisive part in the final analysis since rigorously checking through a 100x5 grid is not really my cup of tea.

In the first place I noticed that Sean Fitzgerald was using wikispaces so he was voting with his feet, then when I posted my query at my blog, fellow SA blogger Graham Wegner recommended it along with pbwiki and then Leigh further supported wikispaces in response to my query in this thread. Word of mouth from trusted peers is very powerful.

I chose Wikispaces partly because others had recommended in comments to a previous blog entry and on the TALO list.

The wiki I have set up is http://africagame.wikispaces.com/

Wikispaces has a visual display of their main features here I have already used most of these features and they work just fine. The only feature which I would like to see change is to not provide the http:// starter for their external links, since I always cut and paste external links, so, I have to remember to go back and remove the http:// from the cut and paste.

UPDATE 3oth April
http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers
This is the address for Wikispaces for K-12 education use that is completely free, and free of advertising. You have to know about this, it is not available from their main page.
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3 Comments:

Anonymous Darren Kuropatwa said...

Hi Bill,

I know you've already made your choice but I thought I'd throw this idea your way nonetheless. pbwiki has the advantage that you can receive an email notification any time someone edits the wiki. You "subscribe" to this feature when you login to edit the wiki. You can also keep the wiki open to public view but private for editing which is another nice feature. I haven't explored wikispaces enough, but as someone who has used both wikispaces and pbwiki I really like the pbwiki.

I'm really taken with your Africa game idea on so many levels: collaboration, teaching collaboration to students, modeling learning as a learner yourself, etc. When I get a chance, I'd like to find some way to contribute but I'm overwhelmed with obligations right now. I just wanted you to know that I think you're doing some really interesting work and I'm learning just by watching it happen. Thanks for sharing it. ;-)

Cheers!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

hi darren,
someone who has joined my wiki was asking for the email notification feature so I've forwarded your message onto him - thanks for that

thanks for support of the african game wiki concept - it just came to me one morning in a flash as "the thing to do" and it's been a great project for me already. It meets a lot of needs as you point out

Believe it or not, I'm still trying to organise some maths teachers to look at your blogs!

3:38 PM  
Anonymous andrea said...

wow nice blog.

6:17 PM  

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