WikiSym 2006 Program

Keynotes and Invited Talks

How and Why Wikipedia Works (schedule)

This talk discusses the inner workings of Wikipedia. Angela will address the roles, processes, and sociology that make up the project, with information on what happens behind the scenes and how the community builds and defends its encyclopedia on a daily basis. The talk will give some insight into why Wikipedia has worked so far and why we believe it will keep working in the the future despite the many criticisms that can be made of it. It is hoped that this review inspires further Wikipedia research. For this, please also see our Wikipedia Research workshop on Wednesday, which is open to walk-ins. (More information and discussion.)(schedule)

Angela Beesley, Wikimedia Foundation

The Augmented Wiki (schedule)

Wikis are based on simple, but powerful design principles that make them useful as dynamic knowledge repositories. Now that we have a better understanding of what these principles are and why and how they work, how can we improve them? Augment, the original hypertext system which was first developed in the 1960s and is still running today, offers some possibilities for how we can evolve Wikis. In this talk, we'll describe the HyperScope, a web-based application that adds some of Augment's addressing, viewing, and jumping capabilities to any type of document format. We'll then demonstrate how the HyperScope can be married to Wikis and how such a marriage could significantly boost the capabilities of Wikis as a dynamic knowledge repository. (More information and discussion.)

Doug Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute and Eugene Eric Kim, Blue Oxen Associates

Doug will be speaking remotely from California, Eugene will be on location in Denmark.

Intimate Information: Organic Hypertext Structure and Incremental Formalization for Everyone's Everyday Tasks (schedule)

Much of our most important writing is written to ourselves and to our immediate circle of family, friends, and allies. This intimate or nobitic information includes not merely calendars and grocery lists, but also work for planning our future travels and endeavors, as well as correspondence to our future selves and our progeny. Tinderbox is a tool for making, analyzing, and sharing notes -- offers a range of representational tools ranging from conventional links and WikiLinks to prototype inheritance and spatial hypertext; in this talk, I'll explore the surprising extent to which people exploit this complex tool set to help discover and express the structure of everyday ideas. (More information and discussion.)

Mark Bernstein, Eastgate Systems Inc.

Design Principles of Wiki: How Can so Little do so Much? (schedule)

This talk discusses the fundamental principles on which the first wiki was built, what we learnt from it, and how we believe future wikis are best set up. (More information and discussion.)

Ward Cunningham, Eclipse Foundation


Wiki Uses in Learning and Teaching (schedule)

Faculty from five universities will discuss their groups' respective teaching and learning wikis. The group assembled here represents several divergent approaches and projects to harnessing the collaborative and open-source nature of Wikis to the tasks of teaching, educating inquiry and training. We will discuss and compare Wiki projects that cover diverse methods and content fields. Projects include secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level courses. Systems we describe address groups varying in size from roughly a dozen to hundreds of students. We approach the ontology and pedagogy of Wiki-based educational materials drawing on cognitive and social constructivism, a theory of inquiry-based learning, and an interest in information markets and online sharing dynamics. Projects included in this panel have received financial support from a variety of granting agencies, including the Israeli Internet Association, U.S. National Science Foundation, the GVU Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, SHOHAM at The Open University of Israel, and InfoSoc at the University of Haifa. (More information and discussion.)

Sheizaf Rafaeli, Graduate School of Management, University of Haifa, et al.

The Future of Wikis (schedule)

This panel picks off where WikiSym 2005's panel on the future of wikis stopped and explores further what the future holds in store for our favorite topic. This year's panel is different in that we intend to strongly draw on the openspace activities of WikiSym 2006. (More information and discussion.)

Eugene Eric Kim, Blue Oxen Associates, et al.

Technical Papers

Constrained Wiki: An Oxymoron? (schedule)

In this paper we propose a new wiki concept — light constraints —designed to encode community best practices and domain-specific requirements, and to assist in their application. While the idea of constraining user editing of wiki content seems to inherently contradict “The Wiki Way,” it is well-known that communities of users involved in wiki sites have the habit of establishing best authoring practices. For domain-specific wiki systems which process wiki content, it is often useful to enforce some well-formedness conditions on specific page contents. (More information and discussion.)

Angelo Di Iorio, Stefano Zacchiroli

The Radeox Wiki Render Engine (schedule)

The Radeox Wiki markup render engine is a basic component for the construction of a Wiki or any system that wishes to integrate basic Wiki functionality. With the availablility of such a component the compatibility of di erent Wiki systemscan be improved and the simplicity of the Wiki way is now ready for deployment in business applications. This paper explains how this component emerged from its host Wiki SnipSnap and how it enables software developers to integrate the Wiki way into their own implementations and other software. (More information and discussion.)

Matthias Jugel, Stephan Schmidt

PoliticWiki: Exploring Communal Politics (schedule)

This paper describes the methodology and results of an attempt to use a wiki web site for political collaboration. Recruited through gateway contacts for online political organizations and publications, participants in the PoliticWiki project were asked to create a political platform from scratch. Foundation content was copied from to seed the wiki. Of the 78 surveys collected, eight members were responsible for 96% of all content changes. This study identifies obstacles to participation on a point-of-view wiki and explores its function as both a political forum and a vehicle for participatory design. (More information and discussion.)

Kevin Makice

Foucault@Wiki: First Steps Towards a Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of Wiki Discourses (schedule)

In this paper, we examine the communicative structure of Wikipedia. The primary goal is to explore principle ways of analyzing and characterizing the various forms of communicative user interaction using Foucault’s discourse theory. First, the communicative situation of Wikipedia is addressed and a list of possible forms of communication is compiled. Second, the current research on the discursive features of Wikis, especially Wikipedia, is reviewed. Third, some key issues of Foucault’s theory are explored: the notion of ‘discourse’, the discursive formation, and the methods of archaeology and genealogy, respectively. Finally, an exemplary discourse analysis is applied to a section from the English Wikipedia. The paper argues, that Wikipedia can be understood as a discursive formation that regulates and structures the production of statements. Most of the discursive regularities addressed by Foucault are established in the collaborative writing processes of Wikipedia, too. Moreover, the editing processes can be described in Foucault’s terms as discursive knowledge production. (More information and discussion.)

Sebastian Seidenglanz, Christian Pentzold

Translation the Wiki Way (schedule)

This paper discusses the design and implementation of processes and tools to support the collaborative creation and maintenance of multilingual wiki content. On many of the largest and highest profile wiki sites, content needs to be provided in more than one language. Yet, current wiki engines do not support the efficient creation and maintenance of such content. Consequently, most wiki sites deal with the issue of multilingualism by spawning a separate and independent site for each language. This approach leads to much wasted effort since the same content must be researched, tracked and written from scratch for every language. In this paper, we investigate what features could be implemented in wiki engines in order to deal more effectively with multilingual content. We look at how multilingual content is currently managed in more traditional industrial contexts, and show how this approach is not appropriate in a wiki world. We then describe the results of a User-Centered Design exercise performed to explore what a multilingual wiki engine should look like from the point of view of its various end users. We describe a partial implementation of those requirements in our own wiki engine (LizzyWiki), to deal with the special case of bilingual sites. We also discuss how this simple implementation could be extended to provide even more sophisticated features, and in particular, to support the general case of a site with more than two languages. Finally, even though the paper focuses primarily on multilingual content in a wiki context, we argue that translating in this “Wiki Way”, may also be useful in some traditional industrial settings, as a way of dealing better with the fast and ever-changing nature of our modern internet world. (More information and discussion.)

Alain Desilets, Lucas Gonzalez, Sebastien Paquet, Marta Stojanovic

Towards Wikis as Semantic Hypermedia (schedule)

Similarly to the Web Wikis have advanced from initially simple ad-hoc solutions to highly popular systems of widespread use. This evolution is reflected by the impressive number of Wiki engines available and by the numerous settings and disciplines they have found applicability to in the last decade. In conjunction to these rapid advances the question on the fundamental principles underlying the design and the architecture of Wiki technologies becomes inevitable for their systematic further development and their long-lasting success at public, private and corporate level. This paper aims at be part of this endeavor; building upon the natural relationship between Wikis and hypermedia, we examine to which extent the current state of the art in the field (complemented by results achieved in adjacent communities such as the World Wide Web and the Semantic Web) fulfills the requirements of modern hypermedia systems. As a conclusion of the study we outline further directions of research and development which are expected to contribute to the realization of this vision. (More information and discussion.)

Robert Tolksdorf, Elena Paslaru Bontas Simperl

SweetWiki: Semantic WEb Enabled Technologies in Wiki (schedule)

Wikis are social web sites enabling a potentially large number of participants to modify any page or create a new page using their web browser. As they grow, wikis suffer from a number of problems (anarchical structure, large number of pages, aging navigation paths, etc.). We believe that semantic wikis can improve navigation and search. In SweetWiki we investigate the design of a wiki built around a semantic web server i.e. the use of semantic web technologies to support and ease the lifecycle of the wiki. The very model of wikis was declaratively described using semantic web frameworks: an OWL schema captures concepts such as WikiWord, wiki page, forward and back link, author, date of modification, version, etc. This ontology is then exploited by an existing semantic search engine (Corese) embedded in our server. In addition, SweetWiki integrates a standard WYSIWYG editor (Kupu) that we extended to directly support semantic annotation following the "social tagging" approach made popular by web sites such as or and by the search engine. When editing a page, the user can freely enter some keywords in an AJAX-powered textfield. An auto-completion mechanism proposes existing keywords issuing SPARQL queries to identify existing concepts with compatible labels and shows the number of other pages sharing these concepts. With this approach, tagging is both easy (keyword-like) and motivating (real-time display of the number of pages linking to). Thus concepts are collected and used as in folksonomies. In order to maintain and re-engineer the folksonomy, SweetWiki reuses web-based editors available in the underlying semantic web server to edit semantic web ontologies and annotations. Another distinctive feature of SweetWiki is its persistence mechanism: unlike other wikis, its pages are stored directly in XHTML thus ready to be served to browsers. Semantic annotations are located in the wiki pages themselves using the RDF/A syntax under specification at W3C. Therefore, if someone sends a wiki page to someone else the annotations follow it, and if an application crawls the wiki site it can extract the metadata and reuse them. (More information and discussion.)

Michael Buffa

Is There a Space for the Teacher in a Wiki? (schedule)

One major challenge for learning in technology-rich, collaborative environments is to develop design principles that balance learner exploration with a more goal directed effort. We argue that teachers play a key role in such efforts and that educational Wiki designs need to allow such a role in order to support group knowing. First, from an activity theoretical perspective we discuss teaching in knowledge collectives as new type of educational activity. Next, we analyze functions and meta level affordances found in the MediaWiki application. This is followed by a presentation of an intervention study in which the MediaWiki was used by a class of Upper Secondary School learners in Norway. Findings are used to discuss design principles for Wikis that support collective cognition and where there is a place for the teacher. (More information and discussion.)

Andreas Lund

WikiTrails: Augmenting Wiki Structure for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Learning (schedule)

Wikis are currently in high demand in a large variety of fields, due to their simplicity and flexible nature. Documentation, reporting, project management, online glossaries and dictionaries, discussion groups, or information systems are just a few examples of possible Wiki applications. Their popularity has also begun drawing the attention of teachers and educators, who realize that Wikis facilitate collaborative finding, shaping, and sharing of knowledge, as well as communications, all of which are essential properties in an educational context. In order to leverage the possibilities that Wiki systems offer for didactic and interdisciplinary scenarios, this paper examines how Wiki functionality can be extended in order to better suit the requirements posed by such environments and their participants. A concept is suggested that allows building context and structure around the content and existing information organization, using trails, or paths, through the Wiki content. These can either be manually added by teachers and tutors, or inferred automatically through an integrated tracking mechanism that makes use of the implicit navigational information left behind by the users as they browse the Wiki. Finally, an actual implementation of the concept is presented and discussed, followed by an outlook on future developments and possible uses. (More information and discussion.)

Silvan Reinhold

Corporate Wiki Users: Results of a Survey (schedule)

A survey of 168 corporate wiki users was conducted. Findings indicate that corporate wikis appear to be sustainable. Users stated three main types of benefits from corporate wikis: enhanced reputation, work made easier, and helping the organization to improve its processes. These benefits were seen as more likely when the wiki was used for tasks requiring novel solutions and the information posted was from credible sources. Users acknowledged making a variety of contributions, which suggests that they could be categorized as “synthesizers” and “adders”. Synthesizers’ frequency of contribution was affected more by their impact on other wiki users, while adders’ contribution frequency was affected more by being able to accomplish their immediate work. (More information and discussion.)

Ann Majchrzak, Christian Wagner, Dave Yates

Practitioner Reports

Wikis of Locality: Insights from the Open Guides (schedule)

In this paper we describe an emerging form of wikis - wikis of locality – that support physical rather than virtual communities. We draw on our experience as administrators of the Open Guide to Milton Keynes, one of the Open Guides family of community developed local information guides built using wiki software, and present observations of the potential value and unique characteristics of wikis of locality from a practitioner’s perspective. Preliminary findings from a current survey of other Open Guide administrators are presented to highlight types of usage, issues and potential areas for future research. (More information and discussion.)

Mark Gaved, Tom Heath, Marc Eisenstadt


Wikipedia Research (schedule)

Wikimedia Foundation's wikis - first of all the Wikipedia project to create a free encyclopaedia - play an important role in wiki's success. Wikipedia is currently the 17th most visited website worldwide so it's of general public interest to find out more about its structure and processes. Research on Wikipedia is supported by making its data publically available. Wikipedians reflect a lot on their project and there is a small but growing number of scientific papers in Wikipedia research. Most of the large wikis use the same MediaWiki-engine like Wikipedia so general wiki research can also profit from Wikipedia research. However it is difficult to analyze Wikipedia without basic knowledge of its particularities and some involvement in the community. This workshop wants to bring together people interested in further wikipedia research. A short overview of current Wikipedia research will be given as well as some practical guidelines on methods how to analyze data and where to get in contact with the community. Together we want to talk about differences and commonalities of Wikipedia and other wikis and hot topics in Wikipedia research. (More information and discussion.)

Jakob Voss, Angela Beesley

Wiki Markup Standard (schedule)

In becoming wiki editors, non-technical users face many obstacles, one of the largest being that every wiki has its own unique syntax. A common wiki markup would facilitate not only learning and teaching wikis, but also developing advanced generic wiki editors. The standard wiki markup should be intuitive and unlikely to interfere with existing text. Critics say users will not change, but if a wiki standard were developed, new wiki engines could take advantage of it. A standard wiki markup is critical to advancing wikis across the board. (More information and discussion.)

Chuck Smith et al.

Information Management in Education with Collaborative Storyboards (schedule)

In this workshop we plan to implement the described concepts of the practitioner report presented on this conference: ‘Storyboards for effective learning’. We will present shortly our Storyboard strategies and concepts, and then we will set up collaborative Storyboards with the participants. The products of the workshop will be commented and discussed. Participants need a portable computer with wireless LAN access. Participants with experience in education should bring along ideas about courses they would like to improve or reassemble. (More information and discussion.)

Michele Notari et al.

Wiki-based Knowledge Engineering (schedule)

The main objective of the workshop is to promote and further develop the idea of employing Wiki design principles and implementations as enabling technology and development paradigm for (formally) creating and structuring knowledge in distributed scenarios. A further aim is to sensitize knowledge engineers in dealing with vague and changing requirements in distributed, Web-based settings. The workshop looks for novel approaches for a seamless integration of Wiki technologies in knowledge engineering practices, for supporting concepts and strategies, as well as for tools and use-cases of their application. Of special interest are ideas and applications using Wikis for creating, managing and using formally represented knowledge in the context of the Semantic Web. (More information and discussion.)

Max Völkel et al.


SweetWiki (schedule)

(More information and discussion.)

Michael Buffa

Semantic Wikipedia (schedule)

(More information and discussion.)

Max Völkel