Tips for Wikis: Creating & Maintaining

ACRL currently employs MediaWiki, an open source wiki platform, to host and maintain its wikis. If a committee would like to use a wiki for internal business or projects, there are a wide variety of free options to choose from.

All citations included on the site, in line with current Instruction Section practice, will be formatted in Chicago Style B (Author-Date). For citation examples, refer to:

Include a Table of Contents for the site.

Create a formatting template, as they can be helpful for site editors and contributors.
Additionally, establishing a consistent look and feel across pages can help visitors navigate the site efficiently. The committee chair should keep the template backed up in a location separate from the wiki.

Formatting guidelines could include: spacing, format of links, standardized page divisions, citation format, and use of images. Basically, consider establishing guidelines for any formatting requirement necessary to maintain consistent look and feel across pages.

Groups responsible for pages should establish an update schedule or timeline.

Links to external sites and files should be checked on a regular basis to make sure they are up-to-date and should include a “last accessed” date next to each link.

Encourage visitors to include change notes whenever they change a page in the documentation for the wiki. Although the history function can be used to compare versions of pages, it’s much easier for those who monitor pages if notes are present.

IS Editors should always include comments.

Consider establishing a policy for dealing with editorial disputes between site visitors and contributors. An example policy can be found at:
(This policy is specific to Wikipedia and is included only to illustrate areas that a group may want to consider when drafting a policy for their wiki.)

Contact Information:
Designate a contact for site and page-specific problems.

Create a FAQ or Readme for the site that outlines all of the recommendations for site visitors and editors.

It may also be helpful to create documentation for wiki-specific functions and syntax that are likely to be heavily used by editors.

Security can be an issue with regard to wikis. Some ACRL wikis have been the targets of vandalism in the past. Although editors can easily fix any issues manually or by reverting pages to previous versions, doing so repeatedly can quickly become time consuming.

Encourage visitors who contribute to or edit pages to create accounts on the site. ACRL wikis running on the MediaWiki platform currently require users to create an account and sign in before making changes. If you are using another platform, consider requiring all users to create accounts in order to add or edit content.

For both security and some measure of editorial oversight, wiki administrators are strongly encouraged to set up watchlists or alerts for all pages. This will allow administrators to keep track of page activity and to minimize the amount of time that vandalized pages remain defaced.

This document was prepared by members of the ACRL Instruction Section’s Information Literacy in the Disciplines Committee. The committee maintains a wiki that illustrates and adheres to many of the recommendations outlined in the document. The page can be viewed at: