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Content Management > Wikis

Wikis

posted on 4:16 PM, January 30, 2008
A wiki is a collection of web-based articles that can be updated by their readers.  The most well-known example is Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.  Wikis are very useful for:
  • knowledge bases, ie. repositories of information for troubleshooting and how-tos
  • keeping track of information that often needs to be changed, or appended to
  • storing a bunch of articles that can easily cross-link to each other
The Zines plug-in supports wikis as a special type of e-zine.  To start a wiki, simply create a new zine with type "wiki".

Wiki Indexes

When you view a wiki, you will see a small input box that resembles a search form, with a "goto" button.  Enter a keyword or topic into this box, and the wiki will display all related articles.  It looks for articles with the word(s) you typed in their title, so for certain keywords, you might pull up several articles, or you might find none.

If no articles are selected, or you have selected terms for which no articles are found, the wiki will instead show its "default" article.  The default article has a name which is set to "_start".  If there is no such article, you will see nothing other than the search box.

For new wikis, you should create a default article by clicking on the new article button.  Set it's title to anything you like (eg. "Getting Started"), and set its name to "_start".  In the article body, you can introduce the wiki, and provide some helpful cross-links to popular keywords.

Wiki Links

A wiki link is a hotlink that jumps to a different keyword or term in the wiki.  Certain tagged words in the wiki articles will be turned into wiki links—clicking on these links is the same as if you had typed those words into the goto box.

Wiki links are very easy to create - simply wrap the keyword(s) in double-parentheses, like this: ( (foo) ).  This notation is automatically converted by the Zines module to a proper hyperlink.

If no wiki articles are found under the linked keyword(s), then a simple message is printed which invites the user to create a new article.  For this reason, you can freely link to non-existent keywords, without having to worry about broken links.

If you want to link to a keyword, but use anchor text that is different from the keyword, then use this wikilink format:  ( (keyword|anchor text) ).

All displayed wiki link terms are summarized at the end of a Wiki Index as a helpful list of "related topics".

Growing the Wiki

The main advantage of wikis is that they are easy to grow by any reader who has some new information to contribute.  There are three ways to add information to a wiki:
  1. Edit an existing article.  This is the best method when correcting bad or old information.  Editing articles may be limited to administrator mode or to the author of the original article, depending on local security settings.
  2. Add a new article.  This is good when creating completely new topics, or extending an existing topic by adding a subtopic.  To add a subtopic, simply create a new article, but include the main topic keyword in the title.  For example, if there is an article on "Puppies", you can add a subtopic titled "Puppies vs. Kittens".  If somebody looks for articles on "Puppies", they will get both articles because both have the keyword in the title.  But the second article will also be found by someone looking for information on "Kittens", which would not be the case if it were included in the main "Puppies" article.
  3. Add a comment to the article.  This method is good when you do not necessarily have good information to contribute, but have some suggestions, questions, or possibly unreliable information to add to the discussion.  Simply follow the comment link to add your notes.  Commenting works the same as in any other e-zine or forum.

Wiki Security Rules

By default, wikis are configured so that you must be a website member in order to contribute to them.  You can change these using the following configuration settings:
wiki.article.policy = member
wiki.comment.policy = member
Change "member" to "public", "admin" or some other policy setting to change who is allowed to contribute articles or comments to the wiki.

If you want to make the wiki readable only by members, then you should set it's access to members-only in the e-zine configuration screen.