Wikis have been described as a composition system, a discussion medium, a repository, a mail system, and a tool for collaboration that allows users to both author and edit. (7 things you should know about ...Wikis, Educause, July 2005) Their varied uses make them appealing to those wanting to collaborate on a variety of projects. People can use wiki pages to find out more information on a subject or communicate with others who are interested in the same topic.
Wikis are useful because you can share and collaborate on documents without any kind of special software or without having to have special training. Because wikis are web pages, they can easily link to references. Anyone can add, edit or delete material with nothing more specialized than a web browser. Wikis are user friendly with no HTML or special programming to learn. A wiki provides instant gratification as a click of the 'save' button posts changes and updates immediately. A wiki can be open to everyone, there are no restrictions. Anyone can read and respond to information by adding and modifying the wiki themselves.
According to Brian Lamb, UBC, what's unique about wikis is that users can define for themselves how their processes and groups will develop, usually by developing things as they go along. He goes on to discuss that the purposes of a wiki are varied and it only takes a couple of seconds to set up a new page based on whatever purpose be it simple or complex that a person has.
In Lamb's article, in Educause, September/October 2004, he shares with the reader that wiki users decide for themselves how the wiki would fulfil their objectives. He states that technical support and training is minimal and that even 'confirmed technophobes' have grasped and mastered the wiki system quickly. According to Lamb, users do not have to adapt their practice to the dictates of a system but can allow their practice to define the structure of their wiki.