Wiki Sites



In simple terms, a Wiki is a device on sever software that allows people to create and edit content using any computer with internet access. This means that any visitor to the wiki can change it’s content. “While this could be potentially dangerous, wikis can be surprisingly robust, open-ended, collaborative group sites.” (EDUCAUSE: Learning Initiative 2005) “That kind of user collaboration is sparking interest of markers who are increasingly trying to get customers more involved and ingaged with the products.”(Klaassen 2007)Wiki sites are so simple to use. Anyone can create one or edit a page with a computer and internet connection. “They support asynchronous communication and group collaboration across the Internet.” (EDUCAUSE: Learning Initiative) Wikis provide users with chances to be an author and an editor of a web page. With these pages, anyone can add sounds, movies, and pictures with the content.

Here is a video to help you better understand how to use a wiki and how it brings people together


“A wiki is the simplest online database that could possibly work”(Oser 2005) With these words Ward Cunningham created the first Wiki. The site was called WikiWikiWeb in 1995 to collaborate with a band of like-minded programmers on the elucidation of common software patterns.(Udell 2005) Wiki is a relatively new term even though it has been around for more than a decade. “Scientists and engineers first used them to create dynamic knowledge bases.”(EDUCAUSE: Learning Initiative 2005) Wikis first attracted attention because their content could be immediately commented on within seconds of being posted by millions of people on the Web. This gave consumers a new found power on the World Wide Web. Lately, wikis have become a world wide phenomenon. There are over a hundred different types of wiki sites and can be used for a variety of activities.

Here is a link to a video interview with Ward Cummingham on how he came up with the idea for wiki

Reasons for Using Wikis

One of the most famous examples of a wiki is Wikipedia.“This site has become one of the fastest- growing and buzziest destinations on the web.”(Lashinsky 2006) “Wikipedia attracted about 165 million unique visitors in December of 2007, according to ComScore, making it the sixth most visited collection of web properties in the world, after such giants as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, TimeWarner and eBay.”(Klaassen 2007) It is a popular reference tool with students because of the large variety of information provided at their fingertips. Wikis are also being used in the business world as well. “Corporate wikis have become an online means for companies to keep track of what is going on internally.”(Schwartz 2007) Many companies have launched wikis in hopes to improve their marketing communications. Unlike Wikipedia, corporate wikis can be closed off to the public and require a password to access them. This is the best way to reduce the amount of false information being put onto the corporate wikis. In the business world, wikis can also be used as a place to put meeting notes and agenda items and to create e-portfolios. "Wiki-folio can even be used as a presentation tool since artifacts can be easily shared."(EDUCAUSE: Learning Initiative) Wikis can be useful to anyone who want to expand community involvement and interest in their subject and activities.

Potential Risks and Drawbacks

Since anyone can access a wiki from any computer, there is a risk that users can modify information that could be false. “To prevent this from happening, wikis are monitored to make sure that there is no inappropriate language, spam, and incorrect content. Another problem with this is that monitoring the wikis is very time consuming and personal-intensive since hundreds of pages are created each day.”(EDUCAUSE: Learning Initiative) Another problem is that the false information has to be caught early so every page has to be watched closely. This is why corporate wikis now have passwords to access them, but this could be a downside to the wiki world. “Although requiring a password for people to engage with corporate wikis may reduce response rates, it is most likely the best way for marketers to protect themselves against digital vandalism, a risk companies take when opening their wiki to the outside world.” (Schwartz 2007)

Advertising with Wikis

Putting advertisements on wiki sites is a very new concept. You would think that the most popular wiki site, Wikipedia, would make all of its profits from the purchase of advertising spots, but this is not the case at all. Wikipedia is very proud to say that they are ad free and hope to stay that way. “Jimmy Wales, the site’s co-founder, has not made any money off the site because it is free and relies solely on contributions for its $1.5 million annual budget.”(Lashinsky 2006) On wiki sites such as Wikispaces, they do not sell advertising on their site. “The only ads that Wikispaces puts on their website are those from Google Adsense”, said Adam Frey who is one of the individuals who runs Wikispaces. These ads can be seen on the page when a user has the basic package which is free. If a user wants Wikispaces to be ad free, then they have to upgrade to plus or super packages which cost a certain amount each month. To reach customers in a different way, there is talk of opening up certain companies’ wikis for the public to view freely such as IBM. ‘For Rod Smith who is the VP of Internet emerging technology at IBM Corporation says, “The hardest part of communications is to explain a new product, and sometimes we get too technical, but wikis allow non-technical folks to talk about what their expectations are for a new product. You can feed off that from a marketing and advertising perspective.”’(Schwartz 2007) This helps people get introduced to a new ad campaign without the company spending a penny. Even though not a large group of people use wikis, this helps companies reach the niche markets and this will help IBM grow over time. ‘Even Xerox Corp is looking to experiment with advertising and wiki sites. Barbara Bansey, the director of global advertising says, “It’s a new tool that can be built into both advertising and marketing communications. I look at it as being integrated with existing campaigns and not as a standalone.”’(Schwartz 2007) The use of wiki sites is also looking promising to the ad budgets of companies. ‘“The cost of setting up a social media to pull buyers in is on an order of magnitude cheaper than the CRM and blast marketing that has been over-invested”, said Ross Mayfleld who is the CEO and co-founder of Socialtext Inc.’(Schwartz 2007) Even though the concept of wikis can help save money for corporation, it is doubtful that they will have a huge impact on consumers since wikis are in the early stage of the game. The more people who are introduced to wiki sites, the better this will look for advertising, but this will happen later in the future. In conclusion, advertising through wikis are cost effective and will take off down the road when more people are introduced to the concept.

This is a link to the IBM wiki page!

Cost of Advertising on Wikis

Advertising on Wikis costs little to nothing for companies. Wikispaces only has Google Adsense ads placed on their site. If you want to sign up for Adsense ads to be put on your own page, it is free. On the other hand, the costs ranges from five cents to one hundred dollars to put a word on a database site. The words you want to place should be related to your site as if they were typed into a search engine. More of this information about Google Adsense can be found on this wiki that was created by former student of this class.

Audience Qualities of Wiki Sites

Anyone with a computer and internet access can use a wiki so it has a large range of different audiences. In the business world, corporate wikis are used for posting news within the company, making presentations, and sharing documents. Students and teachers are finding wikis useful as a collaboration tool to help with projects, research, and reference. Ordinary people who just have an interest or a hobby can use a wiki to bring others with the same interest together to share thoughts and ideas. Most of the time, these people are internet savy since a wiki is a relatively new term in today's technology. Wiki sites have something to offer to anyone since there are so many different types!

Responsiveness of Wiki Sites

To measure the responsiveness of wiki sites, you keep track of the click- through- rate of the page. The click- through- rate is the number of times a person clicks on the site to view the page. On average, the click-through- rate is not very high on the protected wiki pages because it is not a well-known emerging media and they are mostly used by individuals who are tech-savvy or are in the corporate business world. On the other hand, wiki pages such as Wikipedia have a high click- through- rate since it is a wiki page that is used yby people all over the world as a reference tool.

Reach and Frequency of Wiki Sites

The reach of the private wiki site is very low since these are used by individuals who are in the corporate business world and they are protected by passwords to view them. This is because companies do not want any false information getting onto thier corporate wikis. On the other hand, the reach of public wikis such as the well- known Wikipedia is very high. This is because when you type a keyword into a search engine such as Google, a link to Wikipedia is one of the first links that is listed on the page. This creates high reach since anyone in the world can click in that link to get the information that they are searching for. In turn, this can also create a high frequency since people will keep coming back to the Wikipedia site if it is helpful to them. Wikipedia gives individuals the ability to add or edit information at the click of a mouse and this can create high frequency since it is so easy to create and add a page.

Other Companies Using Wiki Sites

“Ebay started a wiki site in the customer-support section which allows customers to answer the frequently asked questions. This allows the consumers to feel as if they are contributing to the web site which provides positive feedback to those who like to get involved.”(Klaassen 2007) “T-mobile started a Sidekick wiki which includes tips on how to improve the internal use of your phone and what the users would like to see in the future from the company. T-mobile said the wiki is a forum where the Sidekick’s biggest fans can tell others how to get more out of the product and rely information that isn’t necessarily T-Mobile related, such as how to create ringtones and find the best wallpaper.”(Klaassen 2007)

T-Mobile's Wiki Page for the Sidekick


Klaassen, Abbey. (February 2007). Forget Message Boards, wikis are where it’s at. Advertising Age, Vol. 78 Issue 6, p26-26.

Schwartz, Matthew. (June 2007). Corporate wikis offer close contact that could improve advertising. B to B, Vol. 92, Issue 7, p. 1, 44

Udell, John. (January 2005). Year of the Enterprise Wiki. InfoWorld, Vol. 27, Issue 1, p. 38-39.

Oser, Kris. (November 2005). Media Morph: Wiki. Advertising Age, Vol. 76, Issue 48, p. 38

Lashinsky, Adam. (September 2006). Cashing in on Wiki-ness. Fortune, Vol. 154, Issue 5, p. 34-34.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005, July 15). 7 Things you should know about wikis.
Retrieved April 1st, 2010, From EDUCAUSE website: