ArborWiki – Ann Arbor’s local online encyclopedia that anyone can edit – is now easier to edit. So it’s easier for people to contribute information to it. Gone is the arcane syntax of the old software platform (MediaWiki). It’s been replaced with new software called LocalWiki, which has been developed with support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight News Challenge.
Editors who want to update a bio of a local politician, add a local restaurant’s birthday deal, or make a map of great sledding hills can now add links, bold text, make lists or include maps in the same way they use most any other modern word-processing software.
Launched in the fall of 2005, the first press release from early 2006 touted ArborWiki’s 250 articles. By February 2009, it had grown to 2,771. And in the past three-and-a-half years, that number has more than doubled to 7,794 articles. That’s more than 1,000 new articles a year.
Back in 2005, ArborWiki was a sub-folder in the $10-a-month hosting plan of Matt Hampel, who was then an Ann Arbor Community High School student. It’s now hosted on Ann Arbor District Library servers.
Work on the recent migration to the new software platform included efforts by long-time Ann Arbor online presence Edward Vielmetti and Davis Wiki co-founder Philip Neustrom, who worked on the LocalWiki project. The ArborWiki Facebook group conversation that led up to the migration also included: Murph, Matt Hampel, Rod Johnson, Ryan Eby, Terry Williams, Alan Benard, and Mark Dilley.