WordPress can be just about anything you want it to be. Blog? Check. Portfolio for your art? Check. Home of your business, CRM, eCommerce Store, App showcase? Check, check, check, and check. And of course there are many more things I could list. One of which, is that WordPress can be used as a Wiki or Knowledge Base–just like Wikipedia or any support/documentation site you’ve ever used.
There are a few ways this can be accomplished: through plugins, themes, or a combination of the two. In today’s post however, I’ll be focusing on free and premium plugin options. Why? Because I feel that when it comes to adding functionality to a website, it’s almost always best to do that through a plugin. There are instances where you may want to use a theme designed specifically as a Wiki or Knowledge Base–and I’ll talk about that briefly towards the end of this post–but in most cases, and for most users, you already have a website with a theme you like and all you want is the ability to add a wiki or knowledge base to it. Which is what a plugin allows.
Free Wiki & Knowledge Base Plugins
The Official WordPress Plugin Directory was at one time, about two or three years ago, pretty full of wiki and knowledge base plugins. Most of those are either in disrepair–i.e. have not been updated in a very long time–or do not have great reviews to begin with. The two I’ve decided to highlight in this post have four or five star ratings, a relatively large amount of downloads, and are currently being updated. Or in other words, as few and unpopular as they might seem when compared to other types of plugins, they are nevertheless the best out there right now.
Wiki (lite) by WPMUDEV
The first and most popular (by a large margin) is Wiki (lite) by WPMUDEV. Personally having used this plugin (and its premium counterpart) much more extensively than the others in this post, I can vouch for its quality more than any of the others–which I have, of course, installed and tested but not put to use of weeks or months.
With this plugin you can quickly and easily create a Wikipedia style entry for any topic/subject you want. Once installed it lives within its own primary sidebar menu in the WP Admin called Wikis. Basically, each Wiki entry is a custom post type–but without any tags or categories, which can be a bummer at times. Nevertheless, you’re still able to accomplish a basic but functional wiki entry with each new post.
I was able to create a wiki dedicated to my family’s history. Each person, town, or event of significance was given its own page and all of the family members who have accounts to our family blog can log in and edit/update the wiki via both the front and backend editors. It’s really fun and functions exactly as advertised.
However, the one big disappointment I came across with this plugin is that it does not come with an archive page template. Instead it comes with a widget that displays your wiki entries in your sidebar. Which is nice, but obviously if you want to have a page dedicated to displaying and sorting your wiki entries, you’re going to have to build it yourself.
Very Simple Knowledge Base
True to its name, the Very Simple Knowledge Base is nothing more than a shortcode [knowledgebase] that triggers a page template for displaying certain blog posts and categories.
Once installed, there is no menu or settings to configure in the WP Admin. As you can see above, the plugin simply uses its shortcode to create a documentation style display. If you wanted I’m sure you could compliment this plugin with a custom post types plugin or a plugin such as WP Hide Category that filters your blog feed; that way you could write documentation style post without them appearing in your regular blog roll.
Premium Wiki & Knowledge Base Plugins
If the options above are leaving you feeling like the pickings are a bit sparse, well, they are–but there are some more robust and feature rich options available at the premium level that might better satisfy you wiki and/or knowledge base needs.
Wiki by WPMUDEV
The first plugin is simply the pro or premium version of the Wiki plugin above. In addition to the points I made about it above, it should be noted that the premium version does add a lot of features:
- Works with any theme (though from experience I can tell you that it may need some minor CSS tweaks here and there depending on the them you have. I used it with Divi and there were a few small issues I needed to tweak before everything displayed properly)
- Complete front-end editing
- Ability to be edited by anyone–not just registered users
- It keeps a log of your full revision history
- Has more notification options (for when pages you’ve worked on are edited)
- Includes breadcrumb and widget navigation
- Supports commenting
- front-end media upload functionality
- Video and image integration
- BuddyPress and Multisite Integration
- And more
Notably however, there is still no ability to create wiki categories and tags. This, to me, seems like it would be common sense. Combine that with the fact that you still do not get a nice archive page with the pro version and it can be a bit frustrating. But all complaints aside, there’s a lot to like here too. And, if you go through the trouble of copying/editing your theme’s archive.php file you can end up with a nice looking as well as nicely functioning wiki with a lot of useful features beyond the free version.
Price: $40/year | More Information
Knowledge Base: Wiki WordPress Plugin
Based on my testing of the various plugin in this post, Knowledge Base is perhaps the most polished and easy to use. Not only is the setup easy but it displays beautifully on the front end–which is a big deal! Granted, it is designed more for documentation style pages as opposed to wiki style pages (particularly with the voting system) but I think it could work as either if needed.
Its major features include:
- Drag & Drop Knowledge Base Posts and Categories Re-ordering
- Custom slugs (categories and tags! Yay!)
- Public and Member Only Voting
- Latest Posts and Search Widgets
- Large search field
- Responsive design
- And more
Price: $20 | More Information
UserPress: Wiki Knowledge Management for WordPress
UserPress is marketed (and certainly priced) as a higher end solution that any of the other options here. However, having not tested it extensively, I’m a little dubious that it is worth its $99 price tag. Especially considering that that does not include indefinite updates or support, but only one year’s worth. However, with those reservations out of the way, I can say that it does appear to be a high quality wiki solution that is actively updated and developed.
It comes with a few features that caught my eye:
- User Restrictions
- Live Search
- Content flags
- And iFrame preview, which allows you to preview other pages without leaving the one you are currently reading.
Of course there are other features too, which more or less line up with those seen in the other plugins:
- Archives & Sorting
- Track Changes
- History and Revision Notes
- Broad theme compatibility
- Front end editor
- And more
Price: $99 | More Information
What About Theme Options?
So at the beginning of this post I said that there may be a few instances in which a theme that provides both the design and (possibly) the functionality of a wiki and/or knowledge base. In the interest of being thorough, lets take a look at what those instances might be before we wrap up this post.
Sub-Domain Install or Dedicated Site
The two instances in which having a whole theme dedicated to displaying and functioning as a wiki or knowledge base is if you have a standalone site dedicated to that sole purpose or if you have created a second installation of WordPress on a subdomain of your current site. One dedicated to support, for instance. In either of these cases having a theme that comes with all of the page and custom post type templates you could want is actually pretty awesome. I know that some of the plugins mentioned above fall short in this area, which may require some design tweaks on the part of the end user. For some, that’s a deal breaker; because let’s face it, not everyone is a great developer/designer–that’s why they’re buying pre-packaged themes/plugins in the first place!
For those interested, Themeforest has a decent amount of Wiki/Knowledge Base WordPress themes available for purchase from a number of different theme authors.
If you read through my descriptions of all the plugins featured in this post, you probably picked up on a note of disappointment throughout. And I must admit, it’s true. While all of the plugins I presented will definitely do the job of turning WordPress into a Wiki or Knowledge Base–and do it well–I can’t help but feel that because this is perhaps a less popular or less profitable specialty use of WordPress that the tools created for it are under designed and under developed. It’s not that they’re missing the core functionality that makes them function properly, but it’s the smaller stuff, the polish. Like the lack of archive page options or the ability to add post taxonomies to wiki entries. While not absolutely necessary, I think features like that would go a long way towards making this obviously viable concept more enjoyable for both creators and readers.
On the whole though, if you’re bound and determined to create a fantastic wiki or knowledge base using WordPress–it’s possible with these tools. As with almost any plugin, theme, or (in a broader sense) WordPress installation you are working with tweaking is part of the fun and usually required to one degree or another in order to achieve exactly what you’re after.
So there you have it. That’s my overview of WordPress Wiki and Knowledge Base Plugins for WordPress. Have you used any of these plugins? Did I perhaps miss one that you enjoy and want to recommend? Leave it all in the comments below!
Thumbnail Image credit Shutterstock.com / PureSolution