Chemistry Nexus

by WebElements: the periodic table on the web

OK- here’s another feature in WebElements where you, the reader, can contribute if you wish. It’s a wiki at

What is a wiki? A Wiki or wiki (pronounced “wicky” or “weekee”) is a website that allows any user to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows that content to be edited by any other user. Wiki wiki comes from the Hawaiian term for “quick” or “super-fast”. What this means is that you, the users, are invited to write chemistry and to help build up a useful chemistry resource. So – do you have some useful snippets of chemical information? Then why not find somewhere in the WebElements wiki and put it there? If plenty of people contribute the result sould be a really useful living chemistry document.

A wiki enables documents to be written collectively in a simple markup language using a web browser. A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Many wikis are open to the general public or at least anyone who has access to the wiki server.

The WebElements ChemWiki is open for anyone to read but you need to register to make edits or comment. This is a simple process but please note the wiki is separate from these forums (fora?) and so your username/password combination on these forums will not mean anything to the wiki system.Requiring a login is not quite within the spirit of wikis. The reason for requiring a login to write entries is that the previous WebElements wiki, which ran for a year or so, was easy to use, but over a period of a few months, pages were continually trashed by Chinese wiki trolls attempting to boost the search engine ratings of a bunch of dodgy Chinese shopping web sites. It should be much more difficult for them to do this now.

The new wiki in WebElements is powered by the UniWakka engine. I am enormously grateful to Andrea Rossato, the author of UniWakka, who recently has responded to any number of feature requests from me, and endless questions, by putting in every feature I’ve requested and more besides. The result is a system quite unique from other wikis in that you can even upload a file containing molecule coordinates (a .pdb or .mol file, for instance), and have the molecule displayed interactively inside the web page.

September 7th, 2005

Posted In: Chemistry

One Comment

  • WebElements says:

    Update: the wiki worked well but the wiki trolls liked it too much as well so keeping it clean took too much time. My timing was poor, I should have waited a few years. These days the philosophy of wikis is a little more pragmatic (usually contributors need a validated account) which helps to keep the trolls away. Maybe some time soon for a relaunch. There are now some good chemistry wikis out there.

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