Intro to Wiki (Activity)

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Intro to Wiki


Provides an overview of wikis and teaches basic skills for creating and editing wiki pages.



After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:
  1. Describe typical uses of wikis.
  2. Create and edit a wiki page.
  3. Discuss use of wikis in FOSS projects.
Process Skills


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 Wiki article (Wikipedia). (After all, what starting point can there be for wikis other than the Wikipedia article?)
    • In particular, read sections 1-4: Characteristics, History, Definitions, Implementations
  2. Read the MediaWiki pages on how to edit and create pages.

Part 2 - Create 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 and begin to create your page by modifying the URL of this example, changing the user ID to your own user ID.
  4. Edit POSSE 2019-06 Participants, add your own name, and link your name to the User page you just created. Please keep the names in alphabetic order by last name.
  5. In later activities, you will continue to edit your user page. For example, you might create a blog and have you user page link to your blog.

Part 3 - Browse 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 5 million articles in English, 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 start 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.


POSSE: A foss2serve user wiki page created with brief bio. Include a link to your blog if you have one.

A wiki page with a short biography.

Notes for Instructors

The remaining sections of this document are intended for the instructor. They are not part of the learning activity that would be given to students.

Assessment (possible rubrics for student assignment)

Below are the questions that need to be answered to provide assessment for this activity along with a sample assessment table.

  • 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)
Criteria 1
Criteria 2


Comments to instructor using this activity with students:

  • Some discussion with students about wiki etiquette may be helpful.
  • Part 2 will need to be modified with instructions for an outside wiki.
Area & Unit(s)

Social Issues and Professional Practice



Estimated Time
to Complete

30 minutes

Environment /

Access to the Web via a web browser.


Greg Hislop


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

CC license.png

Suggestions for Open Source Community

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

Personal tools
Learning Resources
HFOSS Projects