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Wikipedia: Services, Tools, Engines, Tutorials

Wikipedia. Everyone knows it. Everyone uses it. But how to use it effectively?

If you thought of Wikipedia as just a free online-encyclopedia, built by enthusiasts from all around the world, you’ve seriously underestimated its influence. In the era of constantly growing Folksonomies1 Wikis – so-called Wikipedia-engines – are usually one of the essential tools, which enable users to collect information, share it and use it for personal, business and collaborative purposes.

If you know what I am talking about, you should have taken a closer look at dozens of useful tools, which can make the life of wikipedianers easier. With them you can collect information in a more efficient way; besides, they will help you to find the information you are looking for much-much-much quicker. An overview of the essential services, tools, engines and tutorials related to Wikipedia and Wikis – for our readers. Links checked: May/26 2008.

Wikipedia and similar projects Link

  • Wikibooks2 is a collection of free, open-content textbooks and learning materials for free use. Now over 22,000 book modules in over 1000 books are available.
  • Wikimedia Commons3 is a media repository that is created and maintained not by paid-for artists, but by volunteers. The database includes over 895,000 media files – images, audio- and video-files.
  • Wikinews4 is a free news-service and free-content news source. Wikinews allows anyone to report news on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Wikipedia’s Randompage5 delivers a random page from the Wikipedia-database – an interesting solution for the start page in your browser.
  • Wikiquote6 is a free online compendium of quotations from notable people and creative works in every language, including sources and translations of non-English quotes.
  • Wikisource7 is an online library of free content publications, mostly scientific, which are license-free or are released under free license.
  • Wikispecies8 provides an open, free directory of species – intended for biologists, chemists and doctors. Over 74,000 articles are available.
  • Wikiversity9 students and professors can use the joungest Wiki-project as a plattform for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities. Wikiversity is a multidimensional social organization dedicated to learning, teaching, research and service.
  • Wiktionary10 is a collaborative project to produce a free, multilingual dictionary with definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations.
  • Proposals for new projects11 presents an overview of projects, which are being observed and created by Wiki-community. Many ideas are realized, some of them haven’t been released yet, and some are discussed and revised.
  • Wikipedia DVD12 (in German): the complete Web-lexicon for free download.

How to use Wikipedia efficiently Link

  • Gollum13 is a fast and eyefriendly Wikipedia Browser, which enables you to browse through the free encyclopedia with simple navigation and printer-friendly web-pages. The online-browser is based on PHP, Javascript and Ajax, is available in 32 languages and licensed under GPL.
  • Wikimapia14 und Placeopedia15 combine the functionality of Google Maps and Wikipedia to create a complete description of the Earth. Both projects presents objects on the world map together with relevant Wikipedia-articles. The Earth map is being instantly edited, improved and updated by volunteers from all around the world.
  • QWika16 is a search engine designed specifically to search wikis. The aims are to cover all wikis in all sizeable languages, translate them, make them easily findable in the shortest possible time. Currently over 22 Mio. articles from 1,158 Wikis in 12 languages are indexed.
  • This Wikipedia Bookmarklet17 enables you to search for unknown terms with a single mouse click – just darg the link to your Favourites, select the term you’d like to look up and click on the bookmarklet. If you’d like to ask the Wikipedia via Search box, check out out the Wikipedia Bookmarklet Searchbox18.
  • Wikipedia Categorical Index19 provides a detailed overview of available categories available and can be used for quick navigation in the encyclopedia.

About Wikipedia Link

For Wikipedianers Link

  • wikidPad21 is a comfortable Windows-environment for the creation and management of articles in Wiki-format. This free wiki notebook/outliner runs as the background process on your desktop and helps you to store your thoughts, ideas, todo lists, contacts, or anything else you can think of to write down.
  • How To Contribute To Wikipedia22: Gina Trapani explains step-by-step how to create wiki-pages, format them properly and add them to the encyclopedia.
  • Wikipedia Cheatsheet23 presents all formatting tags in a brief table-overview.
  • Wikipedia Toolbar24 integrate all formatting tags for the MediaWiki-format in the toolbar of your browser. With these tools you can also use ready-to-go templates, special symbols, images, links etc. A detailed overview of the Wikipedia tools can be found here25.
  • With Wikipedia RSS Feeds26 you will be instantly notified about the new articles on a specific topic or the modification of a selected article.
  • Wikipedia Starter Toolset27 includes examples to the formatting of a variety of objects you might be willing to use for your Wikipedia-articles.
  • Wikipedia Tools28 lists various tools and tutorials intended to simplify, make more efficient, or provide additional functionality to Wikipedians.

Wiki Engines Link

  • Comparison of wiki software29 is a detailed comparison table of 29 popular Wiki Engines.
  • MediaWiki30 is the most popular Open-Source-Wiki-Software, which is used by Wikipedia itself and is released under the GNU GPL license. Learn how to Set Up Your Personal Wikipedia31 in few steps, most questions can be solved with MediaWiki Help Contents32 directory, which is a list of guides and single-topic help files for the MediaWiki software.
  • Wiki Engines33 presents a list of reference to hundreds of engines, which are divided in several categories.
  • WikiMatrix34 gives an overview of 69 Wiki Engines in a comparison table and provides detailed information about the functions of every single system.

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    So I want to know does any body else use wikipedia and what for?
    what was the most informatibve artical you found there?
    What was the wierdest one you found?
    I use wikipedia mostly durring my lunch time at work to just read up on stuff. the most informative artical I found was on the mineing and refineing
    process for copper (because I learned about the job I have, and got to show off to co-workers ;p) the most interesting was probably on cheese witch I
    actualy e-mailed to my self so I could finish reading it after work.
    oh well, got wiki?

  2. 2

    I use it to find, copy/paste more detailed descriptions of items I sell on eBay – most recently, a Multimoog Synthesizer. By experimenting, I also discovered I could embed YouTube videos within the html of eBay listings – very cool if you ever want to do product demos.

  3. 3

    Peter Gross

    May 30, 2010 9:57 am

    Hi. I’d like to hint at another interesting project, a mashup combining Wikipedia and GoogleMaps. It is called One-Day-In, It makes anyone share and explore history, news and upcoming events. Cheers!

  4. 4

    Really informative. Thanks

  5. 5

    I would suggest Editme for a wiki platform, its a wiki hosting service that helps non-technical users to quickly and easily build editable web sites.

  6. 6

    I see that the article is a little bit older, but in 2011 there is another very helpful tool for wikipedia called
    With it you can search in wikipedia for a word without leaving the other page or text. For example you have a word in an online article that you don’t understand, you just mark the word, press STRG C oder Apple C and you can go directly to wikipedia or read about the word in a small preview window. A little bit difficult to explain, best is you try it, it’s free:


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