Table of Contents
A Personal Wiki is exactly what it says on the tin: a wiki built and meant for personal use. This, for example, is a personal wiki. They used to keep some sort of popularity a few years ago, but most people that mantained one couldn't bring themselves to keep doing so over time. A personal wiki is a lovely alternative to keeping up with a blog for both the author and the reader: the author can just dump whatever's on his or her mind at the time, separated by through their own criteria of wiki articles and categories, while the reader is only a few clicks away from a specific topic.
A personal wiki serves many purposes. Personally speaking, the idea of categorizing and dumping thoughts, knowledge, information, personal organization methods, GTD and miscellanea into a blog/encyclopedia already does the job. The wiki software already enables the user to quickly write and link articles together with only an Internet connection. You can write whatever the hell you want, like a blog, but without an actual blog. You just need people to read you and off you go, although even that is option. There is also no need to jot down one's thoughts in an encyclopedia-like manner - the degree of complexity and writing formality is only defined ad-hoc by the wiki's author.
A personal wiki can be as much of a tool as one giant method of unwarranted ego-boosting - even if you aren't famous, seeing stuff you wrote on the Internet gives you an undeserved feeling of self-importance much bigger than the one you find when reading your own blog. A wiki, however, serves both as a writing exercise and a way to educate the self-learner as well. So I guess a personal wiki is a tool AND an ego-boosting method and that probably says enough about me.
This personal wiki uses a slightly modified Dokuwiki. Dokuwiki is light, simple to use, stores all articles in .txt format and is very easy to customize, unlike Mediawiki's bulky piece of shit only meant for large wikis1). I once tried to use OddMuse but I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to set it up in a free hosting service.
After that it's a matter of changing the settings so that the wiki remains read-only except for a single user (you), and close down registrations for good measure. In Dokuwiki this is as simple as picking the correct options from a dropdown list during setup. In mediawiki, however, it involves fucking things up with some .php files.
As a Wikipedia replacement
Shii argued that a personal wiki's endgame would be a replacement of Wikipedia. The idea crosses the fine line of mental masturbation at times, of course; but a widespread use of personal wikis would shed a new light on the decentralization of Internet knowledge - or rather, a much more novel -perhaps easier- way to navigate through it.
A webring of personal wikis (or, in true wiki tradition, a Wiki Bus Stop) would be the best way to interconnect them. The knowledge is not dispensed to one automatically, but the reader must actually go through the motions of sifting through it looking for things that might pique their interest. Big Knowledge becomes a bit less faceless too (in contrast to Wikipedia's monolithic Big Knowledge, Anonymous for the vast majority of its readers), what with them being tied to authors and all2)
Offline Personal wikis
If a personal wiki is maintained by a single author, there is technically nothing in this system from the author also being its only reader. Therefore, an offline personal wiki is one which is only used for the sake of the author's own personal purposes (you could write in an offline personal wiki for others, yes - but where would those others be?).
The reasons for this are many - personal knowledge database, offline note-taking, organizational to-do lists, academic research work, GTD… think of it as a digital hypertext notebook: if used correctly, your personal writings can be as organized and legible as you want them to be.
Good software for personal wikis include: Tiddlywiki, wikidpad, Zim…
Personal wikis I like
The Index has an updated list of worthwhile personal wikis, most more or less inspired from the same online gatherings.
Defunct Personal wikis
Personal wikis had a boom in social circles surrounding imageboard culture around the years 2008-2010, and died very slow deaths afterwards. Some of the personal wikis still available, in some shape or form, are:
- Everything Shii Knows - The personal wiki of Shii. The one that started this all really, or at least the one that fueled the creation of personal wikis and this loose “movement”. Became “closed” c. 2012, and while though Shii said that it was not going down anytime soon (he said this in an answer to a Formspring question. His hosting was, according to him, paid for by a rabbi friend of his and that his intention was for it to have permanent hosting3). It's not unlikely that this remains the case, because as shii.org is dead, One Yukkuri Place, hosted at the same domain, remains alive and kicking at the time of this writing) it did - presumably as a quiet exercise of his Right to Vanish. Archived by the folks at the Bibliotheca Anonoma, for whom the nuances of said Right to Vanish were probably not something to be fully grasped.
- Everything Anon Knows - The personal wiki of humblefool, administrator of one of the servers for iichan's federated imageboard network called iiichan. Alongside iichan's slow death and humblefool's move towards a less imageboard-oriented existence, he soon began to shut down most of his site, including the wiki. Archived virtually in its entirety by the Internet Archive.
- The Melancholy of Mohey Pori - The personal wiki of Mohey Pori, imageboard denizen and administrator of the old OVERCHAN. Very heavily blog-like at times, articles were usually short and sometimes full of personal life woes, not unlike a blog. The site died by around 2012, and Mohey Pori's Internet existence fades out around a year after that4). Very sparsely archived by the Internet Archive.
- world2ch Historical Society - Personal wiki of 0037. Oriented in textboard stuff and the early life of Western imageboards and world2ch.net. Extremely insightful in ways that probably not even him would dare to admit or recognize. Down since c. June 2018, I can only presume he got tired of it after realizing all he attracted was us mentally ill individuals. Frankly, I can't blame him. Archived entirely, or almost entirely, by the Internet Archive5). There's a full proper archive in archive.org too.