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Marshall's Web Tool Blog

Training and Consulting in New Tools for Effective Web Use

This site is an archive of posts that I hope you will find useful. Please visit my new site at Marshallk.com.

Wiki Software Pre-Use Reviews

This is by far the most popular post I've written so far. People read it every day, and I appreciate that. Please let me know if you find this post useful, anything you're looking for that isn't here? Etc. I know there's not a lot of comparative reviews of wiki software out there, that's why I wrote one myself. Please feel free to leave some feedback. Thanks for visiting!

See also Wiki Manners and Wiki Training Talking Points, two related posts here.

There are a huge number of wiki software options now available at no cost to download. I looked at many of them, took other peoples’ recommendations as a guide for where to go looking (like this O'Reilly comparative review), and tried to use as many of the features as I could. I'm looking for non-hosted wiki software to recommend for use by a non-profit organization for internal communication and collaborative document development in between meetings. Of all the options available, four appear to be most widely used. MediaWiki (Wikipedia’s software), UseModWiki (Wikipedia’s first software), PmWiki and MoinMoin.

These are listed in the order of my personal excitement; but I imagine the decision of which to use should be made by the tech person/wiki administrator not the wiki evangelist.


Installation said to be simple Ended up taking tech support for group less than 30 seconds to install, a few minutes to customize
Editor: Helpful GUI (graphic user interface, b uttons that spit code) and text reminders on bottom of edit box. FCKEditor (a WYSIWYG) can be added on.
Page history: Appears to include indefinite number of changes by default, default setting highlights differences between versions in color. Very nice.
PassWord Protection: Available by page, group or site.
Email Notification: Fantastic. Admin can set email timer to backlog minor changes and send all at once, so no inbox swamping. RSS feeds also available.
File upload capabilities: Yes
Search: Yes

Other notes:
Little formatting of text available.
Uses the ~~~ for author signature.
Breadcrumbs can be turned on by admin.
Printable format avail, supressing menus and creating link list. Could be good for meetings!
Here's a nice example of a user site : http://digbig.com/4danr
#2 on the Top 10 Wiki Engines list at c2.com (the founders of wiki)

Pros: Has most everything I think we’ll need, except WYSIWYG editor. Has GUI. Email system looks especia lly good. Special features like breadcrumbs and printable format could be a real plus. Installation said to be simple.

Cons: No WYSIWYG editor. Little text formatting available, but that’s not a big deal..


PHP w/MySQL database
Installation said to be simple
Editor: WYSIWYG for Mozilla and IE
Page history: supports well
Password protection: Unclear to me
Email notification: Patch available
File upload: Yes

Other notes: Administrators can enable an on-page paragraph giving credit to editors who've worked on a page.
I am concerned that MediaWiki has too many features

Pros: Widely used and worked on. Familiar to anyone familiar with Wikipedia. Has WYSIWYG editor.

Cons: PW protection unclear to me if supported. Email notification not native to program (prefers watchlists for users instead, which relies on logins for reminders to follow contributions.) I fear feature overload, seems like a program best for large public wikis.


Installation said to be easy
Editor: wikiwords or html, no WYSIWYG or GUI
Page history: good
PW protection: can make pages read only w/o pw
Email noti fication: Yes
File upload: Yes
Search: Yes
Other notes: Mediawiki page recommends UseMod for small wikis. O’Reilly reviewer recommends UseMod or PmWiki for small wikis. In page markup seems a little confusing, and there isn’t any other way to edit.
Pros: Has all needed features except non-wikiwords editor. Supports HTML, might be nice for some people. Has good rep as small wiki.
Cons: Lack of editor with buttons could really trip people out, though I’m not 100% sure. PW protection doesn’t se em to prevent outsiders from reading, maybe that’s not a big deal.


I did not do an extensive evaluation of MoinMoin for three reasons. It is written in Python (I did not see Python listed on the project administrator's site as a language they worked in), O’Reilly reviewer reports that it is complicated to install and not worth using. User Interface seems at first glance a little inhospitable, but perhaps not too bad. No GUI or WYSIWYG editor. You might want to check out MoinMoin and see what you think, especially if the above aren’t getting you too excited or you like Python. Lots of people use it.

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