Google and social software: wiki’s

Moving my tango site
I am currently considering converting into a wiki-style site. It is a hobby site with tango steps, tango terms (glossary) and other tango-related stuff. I have by now developed some wiki-like functions in ASP, and it would probably be better to just go with an existing, full featured (PHP or Perl based) wiki system.

What is a wiki?

A wiki enables documents to be written collectively (co-authoring) in a simple markup language using a web browser.

It is a social software that allows the building of highly interconnected websites of free-form knowledge, easily edited by whoever has access to it.
My choice for the ‘wiki’ kind of social software is motivated by:

  • the information does not need a chronological organisation. Moreover, each topic wil evolve in time so it would actually be bad to link them to certain dates. So this makes a blog (key feature: reverse chronological) not a good option.
  • the information is not conversation-like: it will be a few-to-many medium (certainly now – currently I am the only author) and I am not responding to specific questions or threads. This kind of rules out an Internet forum software (like phpBB).
  • what I like about a wiki is the strong interconnection of pages (a description of a tango term like ‘milonga‘ will typically refer to other terms, whose explanation is only one click away), the easy editing within the browser and easy co-authorship with version control.

Wiki farms
In order to play around, I wanted to check if there is a counterpart of for wiki’s: big, free, reliable and flexible (layout wise). A good starting point was WikiFarms (

They might be good for some projects, but eventually I will want to host my tango site on my own server, which in my hoster’s case means it will be based on either Tikiwiki or PhpWiki.

Wiki’s and Google
Just like Google likes blogs a lot, Google likes wiki webs a lot (meaning: they get ranked high in Google searches):

  • They are very topical and have good keyword density (i.e. a page on ‘megapixel’ will explain the term using most of its synonyms and related concepts like resolution, CCD, RGB, …)
  • They are all very well internally connected (they link to one another, they might have pages with links to ‘Recent changes’, ‘Most visited pages’ …)
  • they have very relevant URL names (a link will give better results in Google for a search on “megapixel” than something like
  • they have relevant page titles (typically the topic of the page shows up in the title: “Megapixel – Wikipedia NL”)

Just like Google bought Blogger at some point, they are now looking into supporting Wikipedia (more than 11 million hits in Google – Pagerank 9). I’ve read that, because Wikipedia is not a real company, and as such Google can’t buy them, they are looking at buying answers .com, who get part of their input from Wikipedia. Google has a history of trying to buy powerful content providers, so if one of the Wiki hosters becomes really popular, like JotSpot or Wikispaces, and is as such responsible for hundreds of thousands of pages, they might become a candidate for acquisition too.


2 thoughts on “Google and social software: wiki’s

  1. James Byers

    Hi Peter,

    I’m one of the founders of Wikispaces ( – I wonder if you might comment on how we stack up against the other wiki farms you looked at? We have a strong community of public wikis in education, collaborative writing, Linux, and many others. We’ve tried hard to solve the usability problems of most wikis by focusing on simplicity and a non-technical audience. We rate 41500 on your Google test. 🙂


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