Overview of Wikis
Wikis in their simplest form are web applications that can be edited by various users, usually without any sort of initial review of the modifications being made. Certain text and even entire pages of information can be added and removed by the community using the site.
Though Wikipedia is widely considered to be an academic site, it is also a wiki. Any user that has access to the site can modify most of the available information countless times, leaving the site’s “facts” at the hands of its users.
Semantic MediaWiki enables contributors to use structured semantic properties to describe the contents of the wiki. There are many examples of semantic wikis. There is a lot of documentation on how to use Semantic Mediawikis: SMW User Manual.
We selected a few wikis from a recent publication.
Brief Description of the Selected Semantic Wikis
At the time of this research, the Gardenology site was under construction.
Art Wiki provides a sort of encyclopedia of current artists using information submitted to the 7th Berlin Biennale. The pages can be modified by the artists themselves and are open to suggestions from the public. While the site does provide biographical information, it does not include any of the artists’ work.
Though Art Wiki is available to all members of the public, users are not allowed to edit the page, only provide suggestions. Most of the modifications to each page are made either by the artist themselves, the ArtWiki Bot, or a user named Dusan. Certain pages do have edits made by other users, but it is not as common. To create an account with ArtWiki, one must either be an artist or be affiliated with an artistic group.
Food Finds is a listing of different eateries around the world. The site welcomes its users to add their own favorites and write a statement about why that place is a must-go.
All are welcome to add restaurants and edit any information on the site, with or without an account. Most users who have made changes have chosen not to create account and make the edits leaving only their IP address. The user with the most contributions is someone named Hungry G. He seems to have input on almost every page.
Biodiversity of India
Biodiversity of India is a platform that encourages the conservation of Indian biodiversity by providing information about India’s culture and species of flora and fauna. Anyone with knowledge of India’s biodiversity can add information to the site.
The BOI community is fairly small, consisting of a few users who make the majority of the changes. Among the top two are Gaurav Moghe and Shwetank Verma, who are actually staff members. They encourage everyone to participate and contribute to the research, regardless of experience level.
Beachapedia is a resource that provides knowledge of our nation’s coastlines. Its main purpose is to encourage action to attend to the environmental issues of our beaches. Unlike most wikis, you must be approved as a member of the Beachapedia team and show some proof of expertise in the field.
Beachapedia seems to have an oligopoly as far as who edits the site. A few editors have made most of the contributions, but some articles have a smattering of contributors that don't fall into the larger group. The site contains articles in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and more, allowing people from all over the world to access the writing. Only certain articles are available in certain languages.
Rosetta Code provides solutions to hundreds of tasks in about 500 different programming languages, though not every task is available in each language. Users are encouraged to add to the site by adding tasks or solving the previously available tasks in any language they know.
The Rosetta Code community proved to be fairly large, with an estimated average of five editors per article. These editors varied between each article, showing no apparent pattern in the users making the contributions.
Administrator, Mike Neourohr "Mwn3d" - email@example.com
Mozilla Wiki is used by the Mozilla company to provide feedback and modifications of their products and projects. The site itself is a gateway to contribute to the Mozilla codebase by fixing what developers, testers, and users of the software consider to be bugs. To do so, modifiers must be proficient in programming.
The users of the Mozilla Wiki site seem to have taken on articles as individual projects. The site has plenty of users and many different people have made contributions to the site as a whole, but a large number of articles have only one editor. These editors, however, don't seem to repeat between each article. e.g.
WikiDevi is a Semantic Media Wiki which compiles an exhaustive list of all computer hardware.
WikiDevi is almost monopolistic, with one user, M86 making almost all of the contributions. Most of the other infrequent edits made are marked by an IP address and even more rarely, a user makes an edit under their own account.
DeepSkyPedia provides information on astrological objects, including their appearance and how to locate them. Those with astrological knowledge can update articles, add sketches, or start an entirely new article.
Many of the pages on Deepskypedia have yet to be finished, leaving only 26 articles to be listed as "quality." Most of, if not all, the edits have been made by the administrators and bureaucrats of the site. While there are hundreds registered, there are no active users outside of the team.
Road Sign Math
Road Sign Math doesn’t seem to follow the typical wiki platform, but it does still follow the basic rule that it can be modified by its users, or in this case players. The site has created a game out of searching for road signs whose numbers have some sort of mathematical relation. Users can post signs from all over the world, but once created, the pages cannot be edited, except by the original creator of the post.
Hundreds of users have made accounts on Road Sign Math, but only about 40 of those are users who have actually posted signs. Considering that there are 252 signs that have been posted, it makes sense that each user has posted more than one sign. There are a few who have only played once, but some players, like RanWiz have gone so far as to post 45 different signs.
The Dungeons and Dragons wiki gives background and specs on different characters, maps, challenges, and more. The site can be edited by anyone, though it gives warning that the information is reviewed “mercilessly.” The goal of the site is to aid players along their gameplay by informing them of all things Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons and Dragons wiki has been around since 2006 when the administrator Green Dragon made the first contribution, setting the site in motion. The site has since undergone 3 revisions. The site does have a large amount of users editing content, though there are some that tend to appear often.
Star Trek Online Wiki creates a community for players to discuss different components of the game and equips them with all the knowledge and cheats to make the game as easy as the player would like. All players can add to and edit the discussions.
Star Trek Online wiki has over 7,000 content pages and almost as many users. It's users are more active than most other wikis, with about 60 having made some action on the site in the last 30 days. All of this information can be found here
Farmafripedia allows those in the agricultural field in Africa to learn and share information about the continent’s crops and livestock. The site is modeled directly after Wikipedia, making it easy for users to add and edit articles.
The site is still very much unfinished, with multiple articles that have little to no information. The site has about thirty total users and no users that were active within the last thirty days. The site has been around since early 2011, but no new users have been created since April of 2012.
Dexid is a wiki that stores detailed information on thousands of products that have been sold worldwide. To modify the site, Dexid requires that you register first, in order to protect the site from spam and vandalism.
Hundreds of users are created everyday according to the Dexid user list, but analysis of the history on multiple pages shows that the number of users making contributions is much smaller. The number of editors on each page tends to vary a lot, but generally, those editors are from the same group of people.
Neurolex, the Neuroscience Lexicon, is a dictionary for neuroscience terms, but it is constructed in a way that simplifies the information so that neuroscientists can easily distribute and discuss the data. Using the wiki platform makes it easy for all to add to the knowledge, with or without creating an account on the site.
neurolex at googlegroups.com
Neurolex opens its arms to anyone, even those who aren't professionals in the neuroscience community, or in technology. The site gives an in depth tutorial on how to make edits to the site. Though many articles have limited contributors, some, typically the "quality articles" with more information, have a wide number of contributors, and not just the people who actually run the site.
The Na'vi wiki page is an exhaustive list of words in the Na’vi language, which originated in the James Cameron film Avatar. The words are translated to English and sometimes other languages, like French and German. To add and edit a word, the user must be able to provide a source and a translation to at least one other language.
The Na'vi wiki is used only be those who have an expansive knowledge of the made-up language and its history. Consequently, the site only has about 300 users registered, and most pages have been edited only by administrators. The site has had no activity for at least 30 days.
GeneWiki Plus is a site meant only to mirror the Gene Wiki project on Wikipedia. The project aims to improving the annotation of gene and protein functions by allowing the community to add to the information on every noteworthy human gene. Like all other Wikipedia articles, the project can be edited by anyone. The GeneWiki site then changes accordingly, but cannot be edited on its own.
Because Gene Wiki + is only meant to mirror the original wikipedia articles, there is no real community of contributors on the site, only the bots who automatically sync the information. On analysis of some of those separate articles, it became clear that the community for the project as a whole was quite large, probably due to the fact that the articles are on Wikipedia, a very well-known site.
Practical Plants is an encyclopedia of the different uses, cultivation / propagation information, and plant associations of practical plants. To edit the pages, users must have some sort of login account.
Practical Plants has only been around for a little over a year, so many of the articles are still slightly incomplete (though there are over 10,000 users registered). The site has a very open discussion forum for its users, encouraging more of a real communal feel. Most of the site's contributions are from the administrator and creator, Andru, who is still working to improve things.
Scientolipedia uses a wiki format to allow member of the scientology to create articles discussing the ins and outs of scientology and to reach out to other members of the community. One must confirm they are a member of the community and create an account before being able to contribute.
The Scientolipedia site keeps a track of their community's Statistics. The community is fairly small at about 2500 users with an average of about 4 edits per user, and a recent increase in activity over the past couple months.
Enipedia is a platform for discussing energy and industry issues using information from its users and the semantic web. Its content varies from overviews of natural gas to explorations of global electricity production. Users are encouraged to create an account, but it is not necessary to edit the site.
Enipedia has less than a thousand users, most of which aren't very active on the site. Almost all edits have been made by bots and admins. Contacts can be found here.
- Why is it that regardless of the number of users a site has, the number of editors and active users tends to be much smaller?
- Do the editors of the wiki have an agreement on the changes made? Do they have any relation at all?
- Who controls the bots making the majority of the edits?
- What distinguishes the titles of bureaucrat, administrator, bot, etc.?
- Who were the main creators of the wiki?
- How do you bring people's attention to the wiki? Do you advertise or hope people stumble across it?
- Why don't you require users to create a login to make edits?
- Mozilla - Is it typical for users to keep their focus on only one article?
- Is there any information you can give us about the growth of the community since the beginning of the wiki?
- Over the lifetime of the wiki, were there any periods of unusually large growth? What do you think they were due to?
- What is the process of adding and changing properties?
We will email a questionnaire to the administrator of the wikis.