Some have asked whether wiki markup is dead, but when editing a wiki or teaching others to do so, I usually prefer to use markup tags to format text and create links. Why? Because the WYSIWYG editors tend to be:
- a bit unreliable and don’t seem well-supported across all browsers.
- likely to cause problems with boundaries – eg further editing next to a list item can cause new text to be mistakenly inserted into the list. This can cause major confusion for new users. Since often the only solution is to edit the source anyway, knowing how to do so becomes an essential skill.
- not very intuitive to use – eg some of the buttons in the Mediawiki toolbar below are obvious, others much less so:
There are some important differences between the markup used by various wiki systems. Because I use a range of wiki software (Mediawiki and PMWiki for my own sites, Moodle wiki and PBWiki for some of my courses) I find I sometimes use the wrong markup for the one I’m using and need to refer to the documentation.
Here’s a handy table comparing the markup for a few common functions of Mediawiki and Moodle wiki:
|Internal link||[[pagename | text to display]]||[text to display | pagename]|
|External link||[http://www.verso.co.nz text to display]||[text to display | http://www.verso.co.nz]|
|Bold||”’bold text”’||__bold text__|
There are other differences between the markup of various functions, of course, but in my view headings and links are the most significant because of their semantic purpose.