How to Choose a Wiki Package

Starting wikis is easy nowadays. Choosing the wiki package to meet your needs, is a bit more complicated. There are lots of options out there, some free, some costly, and you don’t want to make false starts.

You can use wikis for the purpose they were intended, online collaboration, or as a simple web site or even your own personal online information store. Whatever you are going to use your wiki for, you need to choose carefully. Here is how to do it.


  1. Image titled Choose a Wiki Package Step 1
    Write a statement of purpose. This will clarify your thoughts about what you want from your wiki project. It does not need to take you long but should include:
    • Goals: What you want to achieve with your wiki project.
    • Audience: Who you expect to visit and contribute to the wiki.
    • Success: How you will measure the success of your wiki project.
  2. Image titled Choose a Wiki Package Step 2
    Writing a statement of purpose will put GAS into your tank, it will be the fuel that energizes your wiki project.
  3. Image titled Choose a Wiki Package Step 3
    List the features you will need in your wiki. Use your statement of purpose to work out what features you need in your wiki. Some of the things you will want to consider are:
    • Cost: There are many free wiki packages, which allow you to set up wikis for no cost at all.
    • Hosting: Many wiki packages include hosting, even the free ones.
    • WYSIWYG editing: This may be essential if you are going to have occasional or non-technical contributors.
    • Domain name: In some wiki package you cannot choose your own domain name such as: and you will have to use a sub-domain name, such as:
    • Content: Most wikis can handle words and images, but some are much better than others. Other content you might be looking for could include: non-English language content, document attachments, flash, video, audio, mathematical notations, calendars, task lists, maps, RSS input, instant messaging. You are unlikely to find all of these options available on one wiki. You need to decide what you want before you choose your wiki package.
    • Look and Feel: You may be satisfied with the range of templates a wiki providers has available to give you some control over how your wiki looks. Getting full control over look and feel means having access to the underlying coding, in particular (x)HTML and CSS.
    • Assigning permissions: You decide who can view, edit, delete or create pages on your wiki by assigning permissions. Different wiki packages assign permissions in very different ways. For example in some wikis, everyone who can edit pages is also allowed to create pages and delete pages. Other wikis separate these permissions and even allow you to assign permissions for individual pages.
    • Security: Wikis are wonderful because they allow and encourage contributions, however, this poses a challenge to the security of your data. As well as the physical security of your data on the server, there are also threats from: spam, vandalism, no privacy policy of hosting service, collapse of your hosting service and poor data management. If your data is important, you want to be certain it is safe.
      Data is also at risk while in transit to and from your server. This may a necessary concern with legal implications, for example online financial transactions or health related applications. Secure data transfer can be provided by many wiki packages, but usually only in paid plans.
    • Income: If you are planning to make an income from your wiki, you will need one that allows you to place ads on your pages, such as Google Adsense.
  4. Image titled Choose a Wiki Package Step 4
    Compare and review several wiki packages that support the features you need. These web sites give you two ways to compare them:
    • Wikipedia wiki software comparisons This is, as usual for Wikipedia, full of information but has been designated as possibly too technical for general audiences. In addition, it is getting a bit out of date.


  • Visit the community forum of a wiki package. Look for a wiki package that has an active forum, with enthusiastic contributors, in which gripes are quickly answered.


  • If you want the 'free option of the moment', don’t just compare the free options of various wiki packages. Look to the future and make sure that any paid upgrades of the wiki package you choose will be able to accommodate your future needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access

Article Info

Categories: Wikis