WikiPEI: The Prince Edward Island Wiki


For years, our humble Canadian province of Prince Edward Island had a far better government website than any other I have seen. A few years ago I even posted on Slashdot about how great the site was. The site was built by my friend Peter Rukavina and his company Reinvented. Recently, though, Peter decided to move on to work for other clients and ended his relationship with the PEI government website.

Predictably, the quality of the PEI government website has gone downhill since the end of the involvement of Reinvented. This month, the provincial government put out a request for proposals for a redesign of the site.

This got some of us at silverorange thinking about the government of PEI website. As citizens of PEI with an understanding of web technology we feel a bit of responasbilty to help ensure that our province is well represented online. That said, we just don’t have room in our minds for another large government client.

The peculiar and fortunate chemistry that Peter Rukavina seemed to have the government website staff was something that is unlikely to happen again. Instead, we thought, why not create a wiki-powered website about Prince Edward Island that anyone can contribute to and edit.

A few days later, we have WikiPEI. The site is powered by MediaWiki, the software that also powers the Wikipedia (and the silverorange wiki).

The site is still only a few days old and still quite light on useful content. The idea, though, is that if you have anything useful to add, you can do it. Hopefully, if there is enough interest and participation, the site will grow to become a useful resource for locals and visitors to PEI.


20 thoughts on “WikiPEI: The Prince Edward Island Wiki

  1. Silverorange has a wiki? Is this a new development? I’m going to have to check out SWAT.

    I love wikis. I remember when I first figured out how they worked I thought, “that’s just a disaster waiting to happen” but after seeing sites like Wikipedia (probably the coolist site ever) I’ve been more than sold.

  2. Look at our two monstrosities: Government of Yukon and Tourism Yukon. Don’t be fooled by Tourism’s fancy splash page – click on any of their 3 websites to see horrible 1997 Flash animation and coding in action.

    Both organizations don’t “get it”, at least not at this point. I’ve heard a rumour that the Yukon Gov’t is RFP’ing its website redesign later this fall, which is refreshing – we can possibly get rid of this “design by consensus” style with the purple, mountains, abstract menu items ~shiver.

    The WikiPEI site is awesome. That’s how the web should be utilized by these types of organizations. Let’s hope other gov’t orgs follow suit, and us web professionals can make an impact where it’s needed most.


  3. Levi: It’s “silverorange” and “Swat” – we’re really picky about capitalization.

    Yeah, we have had the wiki up for a couple of months, but it has only started to get some meaningful content in the past few weeks.

    Swat will be offially announced when we have a few more of the key pieces in place.

  4. “It’s ‘silverorange’ and ‘Swat’ – we’re really picky about capitalization.”

    Crud. The ol’ capitalization faux pas. I remember when I worked for tristream everyone always had to remind people “It’s tristream, not Tristream, tristream, inc. or Just tristream with a lowercase t.”

  5. GGG
    Good Going Guys!

    Let’s hope for real reviews of accomodations and what not other than regulated rating systems.

  6. Alan: Ideally, WikiPEI would become enough of a resource that it would be helpful for both visitors (tourists) and locals. Right now the front page has a set of links that have the feel of a Visitors Guide, but hopefully it will grow beyond that.

  7. I was sort of wondering if it would be all things PEI including history or current events but I would not be sure how a wiki system could express controversial knowledge like facts relating to the Belfast Riots, say, that are still a cause of some consternation there.

  8. I would love to see a “WikiBuzz” for PEI. Basically, if it were linked with The Buzz Online site, it could be something that could become a more up-to-date and, ideally, well-maintained listing of the arts created by and used by locals (the artists and the audiences). Things that, say, don’t make the deadlines for The Buzz would have a place.

  9. Erin: As Steven stated in a reply to Alan above, WikiPEI is not intended to be exclusively a tourism guide for PEI. I think that “Current Events” and/or “Art & Entertainment” pages would be fit very well into WikiPEI.

  10. Is it easy for anyone to add that sort of higher level category, Nate? It did not jump out at me. I am not about to do so but it might be nice to have that explained if it is possible.

  11. Alan: Yes, you simply create a wiki link on an existing page by surrounding a word with double square brackets: [[My Link]]. Any link that does not already have content goes directly to the editor for you to add content.

    Also there is no formal heirarchy or “higher levels” except for the Main_Page. It is organized like an encyclopedia or the wikipedia. Flat, keyword-based, and heavily cross-referenced.

  12. Unless everyone understands that flat hierarchy and I am just oldie Olson, could you explain that more? I understand, for example, how Gmail uses tags rather than a file hierarchy so is flat. But when I look at the front page of WikiPEI…sorry…WikiPEI, I see headings like “For Visitors” and “Around Prince Edward Island” under which there are sub-topics. Will using the double square brakets create another heading like that under which you create simple HTML links in a “ul” bulleted list so that I could create another list like “PEI Sports” or “What to do in Tignish on a February Tuesday Night”? I understnad that each topical wiki page has its own life that is keyword searchable so my question is really about how the front page presents those pages in a topical arrangement.

  13. Alan: The front page is a special page in that it is the first page you see if you type into your browser. The rest of the pages are equal, just like entries in a paper encyclopedia. For example, the page on “Confederation Bridge” has content that descibes the bridge. Some of the words in the content are cross-referenced links to other pages, and if “Confedration Bridge” appears in other articles it is surrounded by [[ ]] to make it a link to this page.

    A highly cross-referenced site will appear to have heirarchy in some areas, but it is not a formal heirarchy since it does not limit entries to appearing only one place in a universal structure. A link to the bridge page can be found on four pages: Borden-Carleton, Climate, New Brunswick, and Getting Here. These are all cross-references and the Bridge is not classified as being “under” any of them. This setup allows for multiple heirarchies to exist where they natural occur. For example, the Counties page describes that PEI has three counties and naturally contains links to the Prince, Queens, and Kings counties.

    To create headers and lists to organize a page you use a wiki markup that is simpler than HTML:
    === Header ===
    * [[Accommodations]]
    * [[Activities]]
    * [[Events]]

    Edit an entire page (edit link in the top right corner) to see examples of this.

  14. Nathan,

    I don’t agree that traditional encyclopedias are
    non-hierarchical and that all their entries are equal.

    If you look through a typical encyclopedia (for reasons too lengthy to get into, Wikipedia is not a traditional encyclopedia either in form or content)you’ll find that certain types of entries are longer or more detailed than others. The entry for “Prince Edward Island” will typically be more involved than the one for “Charlottetown”. It may not be immediately evident to the reader, but this is a conscious decision of an encyclopedia’s editors. Not all entries are created equal; it just seems that way because the content is equally accessible.

  15. Happy Birthday yesterday Steven… hope you had a great day!

    Also think the WikiPEI is a really neat concept, will continue to check out it’s progress…

  16. “It’s ‘silverorange’ and ‘Swat’ – we’re really picky about capitalization.”

    Um. Silverorange is a noun, and was being used at the start of a sentence. A word is a word, not a graphic. I can say it right? Only with graphic designers is one ever asked to break with grammar. Feel free to use lower case in your graphics and text, but please think twice about demanding others do.

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