MediaWiki is actually the very same software that was built to run the user generated encyclopedia Wikipedia. Have a look at both wikipedia.org and Mediawiki.org to compare and if you’re new to the MediaWiki software, it will become apparent that this is indeed the exact same software being used.
So what does that mean to us? It means we can run wikis and/or informational sites just like Wikipedia. The software was beefed up for the amount of users and database queries run on Wikipedia, but we’re not starting out on top so we don’t have to worry about that right now. This is fantastic free niche software for anyone wanting to start a community, develop a comprehensive help wiki, or create a massive informational site about a specific topic.
I installed MediaWiki without ever being an avid visitor to Wikipedia, so at the time I was excited to have my own wiki, but I had no idea how to use it. Once you’re logged in, you can search for something and if it does not exist, you can create it. Pretty cool. Unfortunately for me, I had neither the patience nor the time to see this one through and I jumped off the MediaWiki ship fairly quickly. I’d like to give it another shot because this is the ideal software for one of my ideas. I just have too many other things going on that I’m neglecting at the moment. I make sure to spread myself so thin than none of my sites ever graduate beyond seedling.
With MediaWiki, I was able to change the logo and footer info pretty easy, but I had trouble putting or allowing images to be posted on the site. Again, this is not to say it’s difficult if you spend the time. I just didn’t give it the effort it deserved.
Think about the possibilities of this script. Ever want to have a complete yearbook for your high school or college for every year that was recorded? It would be attainable with MediaWiki and a lot of work of course. How about a family website with individual pages for every family member that becomes a living family tree website. There are just as many personal ideas as there are commercial ones with this software.
To give you some ideas of what others have used this software for, take a look at the WikiIndex for a directory of sites using the MediaWiki software. I haven’t visited any of them yet, but just from the names I’m reading on this extensive list, there’s obviously no shortage of niche wikis out there. There’s always room for one more though. What’s your idea?