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A wiki (pronounced /ˈwɪki/ WIK-ee) is a website that allows the easy[1] creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor.[2][3] Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

Wikis may exist to serve a specific purpose, and in such cases, users use their editorial rights to remove material that is considered "off topic". Such is the case of the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia.[3] In contrast, open purpose wikis accept content without firm rules as to how the content should be organized.

Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work."[4] "Wiki" (Template:Pron or Template:IPA-all) is a Hawaiian word for "fast".[5] "Wiki" has been backronymed by some to "What I Know Is".[6]



WikiWikiWeb was the first wiki.[7] Ward Cunningham started developing WikiWikiWeb in 1994, and installed it on the Internet domain on March 25, 1995. It was named by Cunningham, who remembered a Honolulu International Airport counter employee telling him to take the "Wiki Wiki" shuttle bus that runs between the airport's terminals. According to Cunningham, "I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for 'quick' and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web."[8][9]

Cunningham was in part inspired by Apple's HyperCard. Apple had designed a system allowing users to create virtual "card stacks" supporting links among the various cards. Cunningham developed Vannevar Bush's ideas by allowing users to "comment on and change one another's text".[3][10]

Despite Cunningham's usage of the term, the origins of the name wiki in commerce can be traced to the first U.S. Trademark on the name "wiki", which was filed a year before Ward Cunningham started developing WikiWikiWeb in 1994 by a company called WikiDigs in Van Nuys, California on July 12, 1993. [11] The original trademark for "wiki" was used to describe a form of non-metal caps used for collecting and trading.[12] However, the mark became abandoned by December 1994 because of a failure to use the mark in commerce, opening the way to widespread adoption of the term in the computer industry. [13]

In the early 2000s, wikis were increasingly adopted in enterprise as collaborative software. Common uses included project communication, intranets, and documentation, initially for technical users. Today some companies use wikis as their only collaborative software and as a replacement for static intranets, and some schools and universities use wikis to enhance group learning. There may be greater use of wikis behind firewalls than on the public Internet.

On March 15, 2007, wiki entered the online Oxford English Dictionary.[14]


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