The difference between a structured and unstructured wiki

Before you choose a wiki application you must decide whether you are going to use an unstructured wiki like wikipedia or an structured wiki like dekiwiki or confluence.

The difference is simple but with a big consequence:
  • unstructured wikis organize wiki pages by their page name. They have a flat space with wiki pages whoose page names are unique in the whole wiki.
  • structured wikis organize their wiki pages similar to a file system with directories. In that case every wiki page represents a directory which may contain sub pages. The page name has to be unique only within one directory.


Unstructured wikis need a process to resolve the conflicts that occur when articles about two or more different topics could have the same "natural" page title. The page name"ARM" could mean the financial term "Adjustable rate mortgage" or "Advanced RISC Machine". See Disambiguation in Wikipedia for more details. This process is ideal for open communities where many people organize and categorize pages.

Structured Wikis avoid this problem due to their page structure, e.g. /Finance/ARM or /Computer/ARM. As consequence you need a common understanding about the root directory (page) structure and should not change it frequently. In an Enterprise you have naturally this kind of structure, due to the nature how an Enterprise is organized (Finance, Marketing, Department, Development, etc.).


There is no simple way for unstructured wikis to enable advanced authorization for wiki pages.

Most structured wikis provide an advanced authorization mechanism, e.g. where you can apply autorization rules to a whole subtree at once.


In case you want to access to wiki pages attached files not only via webbrowser but also via Windows Explorer WebDAV offers here an elegant solution.
Unstructured Wikis don’t provide enough navigation information for the WebDAV user.
Structured Wikis can map their wiki page structure as WebDAV directory structure, which is an ideal approach for collaborating files.

Structured Wikis and WebDAV

Wiki WebDAV Comments
Confluence Yes  
JSPWiki Yes  
TWiki Yes*
Apache 2 servers are not supported.
Hierarchical webs are not supported
Xwiki Yes only supports basic authentication

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