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While writing my own blog actually I found that a Wiki was the best way to convey some information. If you too own a blog you may want to write some more detailed guides, build knowledgebases and so on. I can think of at least a dozen of reasons why you may need one.
Show off your product in an in-depth, much more technical way, allow others to contribute to this with their own experiences, you could also use it as a personal blog form, a way to manage your information, a way to collaborate with others, the uses are endless. The reason that a Wiki is so powerful is that it is not constrained to one of these uses, you can use it for all at once.
My Wiki of choice is MediaWiki, for two distinct reasons.
- The first is that it is the framework that was (is) developed for Wikipedia. It sets the standard, and is indeed best suited for general use.
- The other reason is that I am not an expert in the field and I felt the safest with MediaWiki.
To find out if your webhost offers one, go to your hosting account and log-in to your Cpanel. You may find that there are a few installations already prepared for you, all you need is to click on install. I use Bluehost ($2.95/month) and it has two Wiki’s ready for installation (via the Fantastico module), but neither are MediaWiki. So we will have to work manually.
Download and Extract
First of all, head on over to the MedaWiki download page and download the latest version.
Windows users, don’t worry, it’s a tar.gz file but you won’t have to extract it on your PC. When finished, go to your file manager on your webserver and upload the file (or use FTP).
The easiest way to extract I think is to find the extract option, and let it extract to the location it’s in. It will then be put under the directory ‘mediawiki-1.11.0‘ (or the current version) and all you need to do is rename the directory, say to ‘wiki‘. At this stage, you should have your Mediawiki files at ‘www.yourdomain.com/wiki/‘ location.
The next step requires you to point your browser to the ‘config’ directory. This would be ‘www.yourdomain.com/wiki/config‘. Next, just follow the instructions on screen, everything should be pretty obvious, down until databases. Apart from the database name and user name and password I would leave everything as is.
Wiki can not (or at least won’t in my case) create the databases for you, so you may need to do this yourself. Go to your webhost and create a new database and a user for it. Make sure to set this newly created user as the admin or at least give it read/write rights. Once that’s done, enter the new database and user into the above form, and click on install. After a short while, you should see “Installation Successful” in cheerful, big, green letters.
Finally, go to the file manager again and navigate to the ‘config‘ directory (www.yourdomain.com/wiki/config) and move ‘LocalSetings.php’ file to the main directory of the Wiki (www.yourdomain.com/wiki/).