Intro to Wiki (Activity)

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Title Wiki Activity
Overview Provides an overview of wikis and teaches basic skills for creating and editing wiki pages.
Prerequisite Knowledge None.
Learning Objectives Upon completion, you will be able to: 1) Describe typical uses of wikis, 2) Create and edit a wiki page, 3) Discuss use of wikis in FOSS projects.


According to Wikipedia: "A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser usually using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor. Wikis are powered by wiki software. Most are created collaboratively." [1]

The Need for Web publishing

  • Quick publication via the Web
  • Decentralized control
    • But room for recovery
  • Web page creation without HTML knowledge

The Solution - Wikis

  • Access via a Web browser
  • Simple text editor
  • Character based formatting
  • Built-in change tracking and roll-back

Wiki History

  • Predecessors
    • Memex, hypertext, hypercards
  • Wiki Wiki Web - 1994
    • Ward Cunningham
  • Today: Lots of Wiki systems
    • Major platforms include: Media Wiki, Docuwiki, Tikiwiki, MoinMoin
    • Wiki text syntax is generally similar across platforms but with enough variation to be confusing
    • Wiki Creole attempts to provide a standard but has not been completely adopted

For our learning activity we will focus on Media Wiki, the wiki software that powers Wikipedia.


Part 1 - Introduction to Wikis

  1. Read the overview article about wikis. (After all, what starting point can there be for wikis other than the Wikipedia article?)
  2. Read basics of MediaWiki page creation and page editing

Part 2 - Creating a wiki page

As part of your introduction to other POSSE participants, please create a short bio page for yourself in Do the following:

  1. Go to the Foss2serve wiki.
  2. Login and change your password. You should have received a user ID and temporary password by email. If you did not, please contact Greg Hislop at
  3. Create a new "User" page in the wiki for your user ID. You can see an example here and begin to create your page by modifying the URL of this example, changing the user ID to your own user ID.
  4. Edit the participants page for this POSSE and add your own name and link your name to the User page you created in the prior step. Please keep the names in alphabetic order by last name. In a later activity, you will create a blog and add the link to your blog here too. The participants page is here

Part 3 - Wiki Examples

  1. Browse several example wikis and try to define the role that they play. Starting points:
  • Wikipedia is most widely known and used wiki. With over 4 million articles, it can be overwhelming. On the other hand, it contains lots of material about writing wiki pages, organizing wikis, managing large wikis, and using advanced features of MediaWiki. You might browse by starting at
  • The Fedora Project Wiki is an example of a relatively large wiki used to support a FOSS project. The wiki provides a home for much of the technical documentation, and other materials related to operation of the Fedora project.


A wiki page with a short biography and (in a later assignment) a link to your blog

POSSE attendees:

  1. Log into the foss2serve wiki
  2. Click on your user name on the top menu bar (right)
  3. Create your user page and put your wiki there.
  4. Provide a link to your blog if you already have one. If not, you'll create one in a future activity.

Assessment (possible rubrics for student assignment):

How will the activity be graded?

How will learning will be measured?

Include sample assessment questions/rubrics.

Criteria Level 1 (fail) Level 2 (pass) Level 3 (good) Level 4 (exceptional)
The purpose of the project
Why the project is open source


What should the instructor know before using this activity?

What are some likely difficulties that an instructor may encounter using this activity?

Additional Information:

ACM Knowledge Area/Knowledge Unit What ACM Computing Curricula 2013 knowledge area and units does this activity cover? ACM_Body_of_Knowledge
ACM Topic What specific topics are addressed? The Computing Curriucula 2013 provides a list of topics -
Level of Difficulty Is this activity easy, medium or challenging?
Estimated Time to Completion 30 minutes
Materials/Environment Access to the Web via a web browser.
Author Greg Hislop
License Licensed CC BY-SA

Suggestions for Open Source Community:

Suggestions for an open source community member who is working in conjunction with the instructor.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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