April 20, 2006

Case's wiki finishes test phase, is now official

User-edited encyclopedia getting about 10,000 visitors per month

Case Wiki

Case's wiki is now official.

The free, user-edited encyclopedia of all things Case Western Reserve Unviersity has been in test phase since its launching in June of 2005. But by late March all the technical bugs had been worked out and servers had been backed up, according to Greg Szorc and Jeremy Smith of the university's information technology services department. It is located at http://wiki.case.edu

Since its creation the number of visitors has been growing steadily and now stands at about 10,000 per month. Approximately 200 people have contributed information.

Unlike wikis at many other colleges and universities, Case's is supported by the university. That is a result of its beginnings. "There was a feeling in ITS that there should be a place where people could go to create their own content, and the Wiki was the answer to that. Starting it became my project last summer," explains Szorc, a senior computer engineering major who works part-time in ITS.

Although still relatively young, Case's wiki has already garnered favorable notice elsewhere. An article about wikis in last November in the Chronicle of Higher Education called Case's "one of the most successful wikis," and in February it was named "wiki of the week" on Wiki That!, a Web site devoted to wikis.

The most common use of the wiki is for reference, says Smith, an ITS computer engineer. Another is for collaboration. For example, an article titled ITS 2007 Priorities/Technical Architecture and Security enables groups within ITS to collaborate in setting priorities for the department's 2007 fiscal year. Another site, "Email Services" permits users, engineers and administrators of the university's email system to collaborate on a document defining what the email services are, how to access them, and additional email-related help topics.

Still another way students have been using the wiki, says Szorc, is to create their own biographical pages. "It easily allows individuals to publish information about themselves, such as research publications, activities, and hobbies. Lately, some students have been using it like Facebook to write small comments on their friends' pages," he said.

Smith and Szorc said they address the issue of the accuracy of information in the wiki by encouraging people who enter information to cite their sources. There is also a self-correcting mechanism. "When people see inaccurate information, they go in and change it," says Szorc.

Smith said a possible future enhancement would be the creation of wiki "farms" which would allow classes, departments or any other group to establish their own wiki and provide the option of password protection. "We'd like to see the wiki concept integrated into lots of different areas of campus life," he said.

Szorc believes one of the wiki's greatest potential is tracking the university's construction and expansion plans. "Everybody wants to know the current state of the master plan, but there is no document that is continually revised with the latest details. The wiki provides a platform to finally do this."

Szorc encourages users to enter information of any kind, especially on hard-to-research topics. "If people have a difficult time finding information for a topic, they should create a wiki article about the topic and link to whatever information they have found. Others following in their footsteps will be grateful."

For more information: Jeff Bendix 216-368-6070.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, April 20, 2006 10:09 AM | News Topics: General, Technology, WWW Stories

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.