A Wiki Engine is a software package to run a wiki server.
You only need it if you want to start your own wiki.
You only need to start your own public wiki if there is not already a running wiki covering your topic from the perspective you would like to see. (Remember: you can edit any page in any public wiki anyway, and you can use a search engine like Google to help you find wikis on your topic.)
You don't need to install any additional software (assuming you are viewing this with a web browser) for participating in a wiki.
You might also want to start a new wiki in a semi-private, semi-public environment. For example, some companies or government organizations start internal wikis to help their staff keep track of information, while not yet ready to open them up to the whole world.
For those who are actually thinking about installing their own WikiEngine while not being sure about which one to pick I have set up a brief WikiEngineComparison. (Benedikt)
- I disagree with the 3rd point (only start wiki if there isn't already one covering your topic.) Many wiki are overly broad, and you want a more specific wiki, to talk about a particular thing. Or perhaps a wiki has a set perspective, and you want to talk from another perspective- etc., etc.,. In these cases, and several others, you want another wiki with the same topic. I would change the line to read:
Use Google to see if there's already a wiki on your subject. If there's already a wiki on your subject, with an agreeable perspective and community, then there's no need to create another. -- LionKimbro
Goodness I totally agree. Wikis cost nothing and there should be as many as there are groups of friends. If no one comes to visit you then go out visiting but everyone should have a personal Wiki. AndrewCates
- I reworded the third point to add some of the perspectives given above. I also added the "semi-public" wiki option above; I've now seen wikis set up within two companies, and I know the state government here is doing something similar in some of its departments for employee use. I've just set Moinmoin up for myself on my firewalled home network as a PIM (Personal Information Manager) - it's a great way to keep my personal project and to-do lists.