Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Choice: A Hosted Media Wiki Platform

So, if you are still with me on this concept (and I promise that with the next post there will be more screen captures and how-to tips on setting up your own wiki), I finally made a choice.

I selected the MediaWiki platform - the same engine that runs Wikipedia - and decided to have it hosted by a third-party provider instead of running it off my own server. Here, in brief is my rationale behind the choice:

- many if not most of my readers of my other blogs and members of the genea-blogger community are familiar with Wikipedia in terms of the look and feel. There is much to be said about the ease of use in terms of looking up items and browsing from link to link.

- MediaWiki is free and open-source. This is important to me in terms of keeping costs down and having an environment that encourages developers to create extensions (MediaWiki's form of widgets since its back-end coding language is PHP). Many of the other platforms do not have the library of exntensions available for me to build the wiki of my dreams.

- while MediaWiki is not WYSIWIG and is not terribly user-friendly for someone who wants to add or edit content, by using the Semantic Forms extension, I can create templates and forms which will make the process much easier and standardize data entry tasks.

- I am currently using two different hosts - SiteGround and GoDaddy - for my various wikis. Lowville Long Ago uses SiteGround and at some point I will migrate it over to GoDaddy which hosts my thomas 2.0 and BigLaw 2.0 sites and blogs. When I first pursued this wiki concept, GoDaddy did not have the proper hosting tools in place for MediaWiki.

So once I placed my order and selected a domain name, the hosting site actually took care of installing MediaWiki for me. This is not only a big time saver but it takes much of the stress away from making sure all the back-end databases and tools are in place. Basically what I got was an "off the shelf" version of MediaWiki just waiting for me to customize it.

Next: getting started with MediaWiki

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