Teflpedia:Starting a wiki

From Teflpedia
Revision as of 13:59, 9 January 2010 by Bob M (talk | contribs) (Other considerations: copyright)

If you are thinking of starting a wiki you will probably already be aware of some of the following, but it is written for those who are totally green.

In general, you have a number of options with regard to the software and the hosting. Typically the cheaper and easier things are the less control you have over the technical side.

Wiki farm

The simplest way to go is a wiki farm like wikia or bluwiki. To create a wiki there you only need to present them with the idea and they give you the wiki space. Some sites such as wikia will also put advertisements of their choice on your wiki and you will have almost no technical control. On the other hand you should have no technical problems either. If you pay them money you can get rid of the advertisements.

Simple wiki

If you want to be more technical you can set up a simpler form of the mediawiki software. You can find a list of the various wiki programmes at this Wikipedia link. Of course the majority of your potential users will be familiar with the midiawiki installation used at wikipedia.


Finally you can take the bull by the horns, buy some hosting and set up your own mediawiki installation. My guess is that this is what you’ll want to do as that will give you the same “look and feel” as Wikipedia. But it’s a trade off low cost and simplicity against higher cost and more complexity.

Other considerations

Another point to consider is the future. Let’s imagine that your wiki becomes amazingly big and successful and you think that you could be able to make money from donations or advertisements – or even sell the project. If you’re locked into a wikifarm then that’s not a runner. And it would probably be more difficult if you are running on a “simple wiki”.

You will also want to decide on the copyright status of the wiki. Currently many wikis are under Creative Commons By-Attribution Share-Alike license as that means they can share content with wikipedia. But that means that the contributions to the wiki don't actually belong to you - whether this will cause you a problem in the future depends on your ideas for the future of you wiki. If you are prepared for people to use your content without any attribution whatsoever then you can make it Public Domain. It may be easier to start off Public Domain and go to a more restrictive licence later than go in the other direction.

Cost and Teflpedia's hosting company

So let’s imagine that you want to set up a media wiki. You need a host. Teeflpedia uses UKHOST's copper plan which is a surprisingly reasonable £29.99 a year. That was fine for Teflpedia's needs but when Teflpedia hosted another wiki for a while it wasn’t enough. You’ll note that the next level up is 65 pounds a year.

You’ll also need to register a domain name but you can do that through them – presumably other suppliers will provide the same service. Teflpedia's owner has always found their live chat people to be very helpful and there seem to be some good tutorials as well. There is also a forum where you can find some helpful people.

Setting up Teflpedia

If you want to follow the (sometimes embarrassing) trials and tribulations of setting up Teflpedia read these threads:

Saying "hello" asking newbie questions

More newbie questions

Questions about naming and URL's

More technical questions about mediawiki

Anybody glancing at those threads will understand how much you need to work out if you're starting from scratch.

Anyway, the hosting help desk set up the wiki on behalf of Teflpedia - which was probably not their job but they probably took pity on a techno-newbie. Nevertheless, it might be better for new owners to attempt to set up the software themselves as they will learn more about it.

Technical knowledge

If you want to run mediawiki you need to be prepared to open up the code a bit and do things to it. This is the only way to install mediawiki extensions and you will want to do that. It’s not exactly difficult, but it’s a bit hair-raising editing code if you’re not used to it.

Some wikis are highly customised and have specially written extensions. Others - like Teflpedia - are more barebones. If you know next to nothing about wikis then you would be well advised to find some friends with some technical knowledge to help you out. Teflpedia has been lucky in that regard.


See also

External links