The Business Wiki

Wikis are great for centralized, hyperlinked knowledge sharing

PBWiki specializes in the business wiki.
PBWiki is a popular wiki host. (Image of PBWiki).

Web platforms like Wikipedia highlight the value of a deeply hyperlinked knowledge base. The market supports dozens of proprietary or open-source wiki frameworks that work great for deployment in a corporate intranet environment.

Evolution of Wiki Software

Wiki software caught fire in the Web 2.0 era. Especially in the early 2000s, the format of a wiki-based website grew in popularity, becoming a significant tool in the transition from the web as a static collection of individual HTML pages into a unified structure of cross-referenced information.

As web platforms evolved, however, wikis appeared as stand-alone environments far less frequently. Instead, they tended to either fold into modules within a content-management system, or were supplanted by more sophisticated info-sharing platforms like Microsoft SharePoint.

Today, wikis are still widely used, but they're generally not a primary mechanism for corporate info-sharing.

Major Wiki Platforms

Some of the most common open-source wiki platforms include:

  • BookStack: The BookStack interface is clean, representing a modern skin on customary wiki features. It's highly configurable and supports integrated authentication schemes.
  • DocuWiki: This platform is a general-purpose wiki, with a clean syntax and a robust change-control history for individual wiki pages.
  • MediaWiki: Wikipedia is built on MediaWiki. It's a robust system that supports an ecosystem of hundreds of optional plug-ins, and it scales up very well.

Using Wikis in Business

Regardless of whether it functions as a stand-alone environment or a module within some other intranet system, a wiki's design supports its role as a central repository of hyperlinked information. Thus, standard reference documents—ranging from critical procedural information to cafeteria menus—works well in a wiki, provided the information renders in the page rather than as attachments within the page.

Wikis generally track and reveal change-control information. The transparency of page modifications helps people understand when important information, like policies, changes—as well as what changed.

Likewise, if a wiki platform supports page comments, they make a great iterative-development tool, particularly for businesses that decline to invest in expensive real-time collaboration software.