MediaWiki enables the creation of a website that allows users to easily and quickly add, remove or edit content. Significant simplification of the process of creating HTML pages while recording the changes that take place over time is the trademark of every wiki application and MediaWiki is no exception to that requirement. Since wiki tools put equal emphasis on both the communication between content creators and on the results of such communication (i.e. the content creation itself), they seem to be ideal tool for collaborative content creation and knowledge exchange.
Just like many other wiki tools, MediaWiki is free software, developed on free and open-source LAMP platform. It's an important fact to remember for all users interested in installing MediaWiki - complete system is fully tested and works best only in conjunction with LAMP environment (although there are ways to install and run MediaWiki on Windows servers, it is neither recommended nor as easy to set-up when compared with LAMP platform).
Installation procedure can be slightly different, depending on whether we are going to install MediaWiki on our own server (only "manual install" is available, relatively simple and straightforward procedure described in official Installation guide) or servers that we do not own, i.e. hosted solutions (manual installation is always available, but some hosting providers also offer simple, automated "Next, Next, Finish" installation procedures.
When basic installation and configuration procedure is finished, MediaWiki-powered site is ready for public usage. Then it is only a matter of owners' preferences and needs whether any additional administrative steps will be performed, such as restrictions of editing capabilities (i.e. are users going to have to log-in before they will be able to contribute), etc.
Pros & Cons
- Free to use
- De facto standard wiki application (used in major wiki projects, such as Wikipedia or Wikimedia Foundation)
- Low technology requirements (web browser is sufficient to use all of the wiki functionalities)
- Collaboration mechanisms at article/page level (discussion sub-pages available on every page)
- Rich administrative options
- History tracking/page rollbacks
- Moving/merging of existing pages
- Support for page deletions
- Page redirections
- Various optional content protection mechanisms
- Site owners decide whether anonymous editing is allowed or not
- Additional protection for main page (it can be edited only by administrators, if necessary)
- Quite rudimentary WYSIWYG editing features in current stable version, therefore page editors and creators have to be familiar with wiki markup and manual editing to get the most out of the system (but: upcoming beta versions of MediaWiki offer many improvements in that area - official english Wikipedia site is already using new version of MediaWiki with improved WYSIWYG editing features and many other usability enhancements.)
- Non-intuitivity of many advanced formatting features (wiki markup)
- Administrator's editing interface does not support WYSIWYG editing at all
- Lack of automated content structuring, i.e. site creators have to carefully and manually create and maintain rather complex networks of hyperlinks between pages
Tool accessibility test (28 July 2010)
Server Response Time test performed from Seattle, WA / Munich, Germany / Brisbane, Australia : 0.826 sec / 0.405 sec / 2.145 sec
Server Response Time Scale: Less than 0,1 = Optimal; 0,1 - 1 = Acceptable; 1 - 4 = Noticable but tolerable delay; 4 - 8 = Bearly tolerant delay
This tool has help included on the tool's webpage (link): http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki
There is no possiblity of changing the type or size of fonts in the tool (it can be done only as a browser functionality).