I just want to make it clear from the get-go that, despite being competent in finding information on Wikipedia, Wikis in general are apparently confusing to me, so I apologize if my notes don’t seem well thought out or deeply intelligent.
How Wikis operate as social spaces for collective / collaborative work:
Wikis are changing constantly as users provide updates of various sizes and content types. As you can see in the picture to the right, popular Wikis such as the Homestuck Wiki may be updated many times throughout the day. What really makes it a social space, though, is that the audience can not only add to and change the work, they can also leave explanations for what they’ve done, like this gem I found while perusing the Homestuck Wiki’s recent activity.
Communication between infinitely large groups is made easy because everyone can see everything that happens (every alteration, addition, message, etc.) as it happens, as well as being able to see a log of when things happen. No one is left in the dark unless the make zero effort to keep up.
How content creation gets done:
I think it seems to go something like this. (Start typing and see what happens. Trust me, it’s worth it.)
Differences in reading and writing from what we are familiar with:
Reading Wikis can be confusing. As Lamb said, Wikis often lack explicit organization. For example, I have no idea where to start or what I’m even looking at on Meatball Wiki. It doesn’t really even seem like a website so much as it is a giant collection of links. Where is all the content? What is this site even used for? Looking at it hurts my brain.
Writing on a Wiki seems very similar to writing a blog post in the technical sense. However, writing a blog or a book or anything where the discourse is one sided or can be commented on but not changed by the audience is very different from writing in a space where you know your work will be revised or added to. A traditional author or blogger will try to have their entire discourse laid out, typed up, and polished before it’s presented. In a Wiki space, on the other hand, one can post ideas at any stage of development to get input from their peers.
… whatever else comes up
“SoftSecurity” is effective because every reader is given a certain amount of power. Did someone add something incorrect or offensive? No need to try to contact admins, you can just remove or correct it yourself. This system also waives some of the formality usually associated with these actions. The readers are not officials of any sort, so they can get away with making remarks with more attitude such as calling offenders smartasses, while admins (such as the moderators on discussion forums like Reddit) are expected to posses an air of politeness and formality, which is easier for offenders to simply shrug off. Also, there is power in numbers. It’s like having an entire team cleaning up the messes of a few people.