Thing 8: Wikis

Sure, “wiki” sounds funny and it’s fun to say, but it’s also a term for a powerful tool that is being used by a lot of people to collaboratively build a website and share information. In fact, more than one-third of American adult internet users (36%) consult the citizen-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, according to a new nationwide survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. If you’re part of this 36% who use Wikipedia, you’re already on your way to understanding wikis. In this task, you’ll learn more about what wikis are and how they work. You’ll also get a chance to participate by editing a wiki created just for the 10 Things.

For a quick, entertaining introduction to wikis, check out this video tutorial called Wikis in Plain English:

You can also read about how wikis work on one of these websites:
Hopefully, now that you know how wikis work, you’re also excited about the possibilities for using wikis in libraries. Take a look at how these libraries are using wikis to improve staff work or provide services to their patrons:
To see more examples of libraries using wikis, check out the 10 Things "librarywikis" bookmark on

  1. The best way to learn about wikis is to actually contribute to one. The 10 Things team has set up a 10 Things wiki just so you have a place to experiment and play. Go to the 10 Things wiki and have a look around. If you want to edit a page, click "Edit this page" at the top of any page. The password is... (please ask a 10 things team member for this password)" Take advantage of the help page to learn more about using this wiki. Remember, this wiki belongs to all of us, so don't be afraid to take ownership by making a contribution!

  2. One of the main principles of web 2.0 is "radical trust" in people. Darlene Fichter, in her Blog on the Side, defines radical trust this way: "Radical trust is about trusting the community. We know that abuse can happen, but we trust (radically) that the community and participation will work. In the real world, we know that vandalism happens but we still put art and sculpture up in our parks. As an online community we come up with safeguards or mechanisms that help keep open contribution and participation working."

    Write a blog entry sharing your thoughts on this idea of "radical trust" and wikis in general. What do you think of Wikipedia? Would you, or do you, trust and use it to find information? Can you think of ways wikis can be used by libraries to offer something to its patrons? Can you think of ways that a wiki can be helpful to you and your department?

If you’re up for it, try visiting Wikipedia and editing an article on a topic that you're familiar with. Here’s an article about how to edit a page in Wikipedia. NOTE: You'll need to create a Wikipedia user name and password to add or edit content.

You can also contribute to a library-related wiki. Here are two to check out:
  1. LibrarianResources - ReadytoGo
    This wiki was designed to share information about all kinds of library resources. It's a new wiki, so there isn't much content listed... but don't let that stop you from being one of the first to add something! Try posting a few links to a book list, pathfinder, or other original content on our website; details about an upcoming program at the Library; or your own tips for how you get things done at work. NOTE: You'll need to create a Wikispaces user name and password to add or edit content.

  2. Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
    This wiki calls itself a "one-stop shop for great ideas and information" for libraries and the people who work in them. Try posting about one of our programs or services that other libraries might want to try for themselves. NOTE: Library Success also requires users to create a Library Success user name and password to add or edit content.
Now try Thing 9: Google Tools-- Online Productivity.

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