The First Wiki

Ward Cunningham invented wiki in 1995.

  • WikiWiki is Hawaiian for quick.
  • Ward wanted to quickly be able to share his ideas with colleagues easily over the internet, so he started the Portland Pattern Repository.

Ward's original wiki, The Portland Pattern Repository (WikiWikiWeb) on C2 (named after his software consultancy, Cunningham & Cunningham) was created to discuss patterns in software languages.

His idea was to be able to share information and ideas with people over the internet, quickly and easily, using the same technology software engineers had been using to "build" their releases (a "repository" is just a more technical kind of wiki). Ward realized that using wiki to edit text would be different from using "repositories" to edit code, even if the technology were nearly the same. In code, namespaces are very carefully managed and controlled. In most writing or texts, though, it's not controlled.

Ward knew that there would be thousands, maybe millions, of other pages to link to, not just a few dozen.

His big improvement was to make it much easier to link to internal pages than by using HTML "A" links. Instead, users could write links by CamelCase (sometimes referred to as WikiLinks) and more recently like [[this]]. Today, hundreds of thousands of people create wiki pages, which anyone can do.

The Portland Pattern Repository quickly became the place that people gathered to discuss the benefits & potential of wikis, despite the stated goal of discussing patterns in programming languages.

In April 2000 Sunir Shah and community members extracted much of the wiki on wiki discussion on c2 and created MeatballWiki in order to discuss "collaborative hypermedia". MeatballWiki remains one of the most respected active wiki sites.

The Wiki Way

AboutUs, and arguably all public wikis, work to build vibrant communities comprised of individual members freely electing to participate. These users give, in essence, an enthusiastic nod to the vision and limitless potential of an open edit website. Members uphold the covenant, to contribute constructive edits, promote the sharing of knowledge and grow the commons.

The momentum of the community acting in concert works to insulate and preserve the environment from destructive influences, ideally making violations of the Contract, rare occurrences easily squelched by the community through self-regulation and a desire to preserve the interests of the group.

We would love to have you stay and participate in this wiki, and invite you to check out other wikis.


Wikipedia was started on January 15, 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger and is an online encyclopedia that allows anyone to write on topics of their choice rather than relying on experts to write articles.

"Wikipedia has the potential to be the greatest effort in collaborative knowledge gathering the world has ever known, and it may well be the greatest effort in voluntary collaboration of any kind." ~ Marshall Poe

The main tenet of Wikipedia is its "openness": The software itself is free and open content, the membership is open, meaning that anyone who has Internet access can contribute.

Wikipedia relies on peer-review and recent changes patrolling to create articles that owe their veracity to community approval. Mistakes are made, found & corrected. The information commons is being created and disseminated by a group of volunteers using free and open content.


WikiLeaks is the next wiki to start to enter into everyone's consciousness. This is good, because then we can start talking about wiki and not having people automatically think Wikipedia. WikiLeaks started out as a wiki, but Jullian Assange got frustrated that not enough people were participating with it. So they switched to different software, many now think a wiki now would serve WikiLeaks well.