The main differences between a wiki and a blog are how each one handles content creation and how readers interact with that content.
Where the Words Blog and Wiki Come From
If we put on our etymological hats, we can get a further nudge towards the full answer by understanding where the words themselves come from. It’s not a big nudge, but I’m a nerd and it’s interesting, so we’re going to do it anyway.
The word “blog” started as a joke a guy named Peter Merholz made on his website way back in the late 1990s. Peter is actually kind of an important guy in the history of the internet, and that original website still exists. If you’re bored, you should visit his site and learn more about him. If you’re not quite that bored, I’ll just tell you that until Peter made his online joke, what we think of as a “blog” was called a “weblog,” as in, a “log” posted on the “web.”
While Peter’s joke usually gets credit for adding the word “blog” to our cultural lexicon, it was probably a totally different dude – Evan Williams – who actually made it a common word by answering the question “what does ‘blog’ stand for?” Evan answered that question by being the first person to use “blog” as a verb – referring to the act of updating a weblog. For some reason, when Evan started using the word this way, it really took off. It took a while, but the term eventually cycled back and now we interchangeably use the word blog as both a noun and a verb.
The origin of the word “wiki” is even more directly linked to the way we currently use the term. In the mid 1990s, Ward Cunningham released a piece of collaborative writing software called WikiWikiWeb (a play on “www”) that let groups of people contribute to a single online document. Our buddy Mr. Cunningham didn’t make up the word wiki, though. It’s an old Hawaiian word that means “fast” or “quick.”
Ok, That’s Fun, But What Is the Difference Between a Wiki and a Blog?
In a nutshell, a blog is a content platform that’s typically updated by a single person or a small group of people. That person (or group) then has complete editorial control over the content. Readers can comment on the content, and interact with other readers via comments, but they can’t change the content itself.
A wiki is a collaborative platform designed to let anyone contribute to content creation. In this setup, editorial control – the ability to add, remove, or change content – is shared by a large group of people, often including the readers.
Blogs are a type of “one-to-many” communication – one (or a few) authors write and edit content meant for many readers.
Wikis are a type of “many-to-many” communication – many people write and edit content meant for many (many) readers.
In the old days (5 years ago, at least) a blog kind of implied some sort of chronological order to the posted content – like a diary, or a log – but this isn’t really true any more. Take this blog as an example – the posts were certainly made in some kind of chronological order, but that ordering isn’t very important to how readers interact with the content.
The Most Comprehensive List of Wiki and Blog Differences You Could Ever Hope For
Thanks to our totally-not-a-convict friends from down under, the University of New South Wales has compiled a truly impressive and exhaustive list of the many subtle differences between a blog and a wiki.
I’ve included a small segment below, and you can check out the University’s website for the complete list.
Read More: Wiki vs Blog, Everything you Could Ever Want to Know
Read More: How to Start Your Own Blog, Step 1