What's a Wiki?

Wiki. By now, the average Internet user has heard the phrase, but many people lack even a basic understanding of its meaning, let alone its application. That's unfortunate because wiki technology is the most cost-effective content management tool for small businesses.

There are a multitude of reasons why small business owners should familiarize themselves with wiki technology.

One of the main reasons to learn about wikis is that wiki technology has taken the business community by storm, giving business owners a convenient and cost-effective resource for managing corporate content.

Based on the Hawaiian word wiki-wiki (meaning "quick"), wiki has been described as the simplest, collaborative content management system on the planet. In the same way that sophisticated enterprise CMS systems facilitate collaborative processes among employees, wiki lets groups of people work on a single piece of content -- but without the high price tag that is usually associated with enterprise CMS solutions.

Using special software, individuals and companies can create a wiki group that is designed to pool the knowledge of multiple individuals. The result is content that is accessible to large groups of people and has been created by multiple stakeholders possessing a broad base of expertise and perspectives.

Wiki Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of wikis is that they are extremely easy to use. Once an individual has been given the proper authorization, she can access information posted on the wiki, edit content or add additional material. Companies with workers who are spread across a wide geographic area appreciate wikis' ability to allow employees to work on the same project regardless of their location. In many ways, wikis are an organic alternative to traditional communication and content management processes. While traditional corporate communication has functioned in a linear, top-down manner, wikis create and present material in a bottom-up format that requires little in the way of administrative maintenance.

Wiki Drawbacks

The main disadvantage of wiki technology is that its open source nature is vulnerable to manipulation by individuals with malicious intent. In the past, some wiki pages have been hijacked by users with less than noble motives. However, the majority of wiki users are informed individuals interested in the co-creation of useful content.

Next-Generation Wiki

Moving forward, wiki technology will increasingly integrate multimedia elements including photos, videos and sound clips. Additionally, many wiki platforms are taking steps to implement reputation systems that punish abusers.

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