What is a wiki in forums

Forums, weblogs and wikis

If you talk to people for whom the Internet is an important medium but not their “daily bread”, then you often find yourself in need of explanation for some things. So also with the topic “what is the difference between forums, weblogs and wikis”? They hear and read about it, but cannot imagine what they are good for and what the differences are.

All three are web-based editing systems or content management systems (CMS). All three representatives are based on the same technology: using a server-based scripting language (PHP, Perl, ASP, etc.), the content (database, text files, etc.) is accessed and these are then sent by the server to the client's request (e.g. browser) as Websites issued.

This is stupid technology and for most “normal mortals” the brain goes into protective defensive mode and the facial expression says: “I don't understand anything”.

However, all three representatives have some differences and different areas of application and I will try to illustrate these differences a bit more strikingly: each with an example from real life. I hope I can do that.


The word Forum comes from the Latin and means "place”And was at that time a central place of public life. This reflects very well the structure of a discussion forum on the web. Most of the time, the forums are open to the public, visitors can read the posts, but you have to be registered in order to reply. However, there are forums that also allow you to read the posts after registration and also forums where you can reply to posts as an unregistered user, but the examples used are more of a minority.

After registering as a member of the forum, you not only have the right to reply to posts but also to start your own posts. As a result, the forums have a certain momentum of their own and, provided the topic is more or less compatible with the masses, you can very quickly build a loyal community. But here you also have to take the negative aspects into account and recruit moderators who take care that the forum does not get out of hand and that you as the operator do not come into conflict with the law because a forum participant, for example, expresses insults to another person.

Basically, an Internet forum is a bit reminiscent of the real forum from antiquity or a marketplace. The discussion is limited to the members of a community and everyone within this community is allowed to start a discussion and express their opinion on the other contributions. All members of the community are more or less equal, although there are people who have more rights than the others (moderators and admins) who, among other things, ensure that there is a peaceful coexistence.

There are two different types of structure of forums. On the one hand, there are the original forums where the individual discussion threads in a so-called. Tree structure being represented. An example of this is the SelfHTML forum. Here you can also see the original contribution and the comments of the others, a little indented. Here you can see at a glance who is answering whom, and the focus here is on the thread of the discussion.

The other expression is that Boards (English for boards; based on the “black board”), in the meantime the boards are also referred to as forums. An example of a board is e.g. the WordPress.org forum. The focus here is on the start post and you can only see the responses of the other participants when you have called up the respective start post.


The word Weblog consists of two English words: Web for “Netz” (meaning the well-known WWW) and log for “Logbook” or “Journal”. Unfortunately, here in Germany, the weblogs were unfortunately translated as “web diaries”, which was a hurdle for the weblogs, especially at the beginning, because in this country one usually imagines the intimate secrets of a 14-year-old who reports, for example, about her first kiss and so it was difficult for many people at the beginning to take the weblogs seriously as a source of information.

As a rule, weblogs are (I leave the exceptions aside) frequently updated websites in which the individual posts are sorted chronologically and in reverse order. The focus here is on the post and not on a subpage, as is the case with classic websites, and the more up-to-date a post is, the higher up it is. There are still a lot of technical subtleties (newsfeed, trackback, etc.) that the weblogs have in tow, but I don't want to go into them any further.

Here is the situation that only the operator or a group of authors can write a post and the readers can comment on this post. The situation of the weblog is reminiscent of an organized one Lecture followed by a panel discussion. The author carries something in front of the readers comment, the comments are not an ornament but a central part of the content. Because new insights and perspectives can be gained through the comments. You can see an example of a weblog when you read this post :-).


The word wikiwki comes from the Hawaiian language and means "fast". A wiki is ideal if you plan to create documentation and maintain it, for example.

A classic example of the use of a wiki is Wikipedia. The cause and the effect are often confused. The wiki as software is not called that because of the Wikipedia, but the wikipedia is called that because it is an encyclopedia that is driven by wiki software. It is also often forgotten that the media wiki, i.e. the software operated with Wikipedia, is not the wiki. Because in addition to media wiki, there are many other scripts that can be used to operate a wiki.

The functional principle of a wiki can be compared to that of a working group. Here the individual members work, mostly on an equal footing, independently of one another on the topic. The big picture as a result of the group work is in the foreground. Not the individual contribution and not the community either. Depending on the software, this can comment on the individual sub-pages or lead a discussion in the background, but this is rather secondary.


It may be that I have not mentioned every facet of the three representatives with this article, as some of the transitions are very fluid. But I think on the whole it is a good aid and a reminder for a possible decision-making process when choosing the appropriate editorial system.

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Written by Vladimir

Vladimir Simović has been working with HTML & CSS since 2000 and with WordPress since January 2004. Over the years he has published various specialist books and articles.