The speed of editing wikis


· MediaWiki · wikis ·

I wonder a lot about the wisdom of running one's own wikis, when the current fashion is to not have your own server and not run LAMP stack web applications at all. All the cool kids have static pre-rendered sites, with active stuff handled by edge functions or single-purpose services or more usually other people's commercial bollocks. All of which is sort of fun, and I definitely do like the feeling of having all of a site's content in a Git repo and leaving the active parts of it (searching, commenting, image derivations, etc. in the case of this blog) to external systems. That seems resilient in a way that my LAMP stack isn't, and has the added quality of being (almost) something I can recommend to people when they ask about setting up their own website (i.e. point them to GitHub Pages, basically).

But there's something pretty great about a wiki, and it's in the name (if you speak Hawaiian): wiki sites are quick to work on! That was the great revolution c.2001. A webpage that you're reading could have an edit link with which you could edit the whole page text right there and then, with the page being updated immediately upon being saved. More than that: you go from viewing it as it's published, to editing it in its entirety, and back to the published view. That's still revolutionary. It's not how blogs work, usually, nor many other sorts of content management system where you have an 'admin' view of things, where you're likely to go from some sort of listing of content to editing it, and back to the listing. The front-of-house view is for readers, not editors.

So for now, despite my attempts to ditch it, I seem to be sticking with MediaWiki for a few different sites, and it's primarily because I can just click edit wherever I am. (Not even click, really: it's more often alt+shift+e to edit and alt+shift+s to save.)