1. McCartney, Patricia R. PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

Electronic "social networking" is buzzing with interactive connectivity, and wikis are one of the many exciting tools to enable this new wave of networking. A wiki is software used to create, edit, hyperlink, and search information on the Web. Wiki documents or pages can be created and edited by many users accessing a site. Wikis differ from blogs (online diary of chronological postings with interactive links; usually with the latest information) because wiki users can read and revise the posted information. Wikis provide opportunities for participants with common interests or a project goal to move beyond traditional collaboration to a new age of virtual community participation. Multiple users connect to contribute, share ideas, create Web content, and generate knowledge in real time. Wikis are used in education, business, research, and practice (Skiba, 2005).


Most wikis require users to register before editing. Wikis may be open to the public and free to join, or they may be private and require membership and password login to read and edit. Edits are made with a browser and user-friendly text editing, similar to word processing. Users click the edit icon, and then they can add, change, or remove content (text, links, images, video, and more). They then click to save (see a demonstration on YouTube at Edits or revisions to the posted material are made in real time and quickly appear online. There is often no review before revisions are accepted. A list of "recent changes" (version differing or "diff") may be posted to permit readers to verify the validity of revisions. Some wikis keep a record of the revisions, so destructive revisions (vandalism) can be reversed when needed. The role of the wiki owner may vary; there may be an administrator, editor, or moderator with authority to review, remove, or block edits. Ironically, because content is dynamic (wiki is Hawaiian for "quick"), citing a wiki document as a reference for later retrieval may not be acceptable referencing!!


Wiki Quality

Professionals can evaluate wikis by adapting approaches used with Web sites and traditional forms of printed literature (McCartney, 2001).


Authority. Who is responsible for the wiki? Is there contact information? The software and URL domain may be commercial, but who is the wiki owner? What is the owner's role? Are author-contributors required to register and supply credentials? Is copyright disclosed?


Accuracy. Is information verified with primary source citations and supporting links? Are posted documents peer-reviewed? Are spelling and grammar accurate? Is vandalism avoided?


Objective. What are the wiki objectives, and what is the perspective of the sponsor? Is information neutral and not influenced by bias or advertising?


Currency. Are the revisions dated and recent? Do images, videos, and links verifying wiki information still work? Is the wiki abandoned, unused, and old?


Coverage and Audience. Is the wiki organized and easily accessible to navigate, register, and participate in? Are directions clear? Is common software is used? Can multiple forms of media be added? Do hyperlinks have clear article titles? Who can participate in the wiki?


Wikis for Nurses

Most readers are probably familiar with Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia ( NursingWiki is a free public project in which participants can edit or start nursing articles ( The nursing informatics TIGER project (Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform at is currently using wikis for collaborative work groups. We are likely to see more wikis used in nursing, so be ready for this new social networking tool!!




McCartney, P. (2001). Evaluating information and a midwifery resource. MCN The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 26, 162. [Context Link]


Skiba, D. (2005). Do your students wiki? Nursing Education Perspectives, 26, 120-121. [Context Link]