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MediaWiki vs DokuWiki
March 12, 2018

Interested in finding the wiki that’s right for you?

Yes, so are we. 🙂

In the open source wiki marketplace, there are several options, including MediaWiki, DokuWiki, TWiki, Tiki Wiki and TiddlyWiki, as well as smaller players such as MoinMoin, PmWiki, PhpWiki and WikkaWiki.

To see what’s happening in this market, let’s take a brief look at this Google Trends graph of interest in the top five packages recently (click to see the image larger):

Google Trends

Seems clear that MediaWiki and DokuWiki are the top contenders. MediaWiki is more well-known, but DokuWiki is trying to close the gap. The Internet Techies site indeed lists it as number 2 and many people feel it’s easier to use and more effective for many sites. But to really decide, we need more details about DokuWiki vs DokuWiki. What’s the difference?

Today we’re going to talk about exactly what differences do and don’t exist. Yes, we are entering now the War of the Wikis! 🙂

We will examine two areas:

  1. History and License – when and how did these two projects get started and what license each has
  2. Product – what differences exist in the actual product

A Brief History and License

MediaWiki was originally written for Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself was launched in January 2001. The name “MediaWiki” came about in July 2003, the same year that Jimmy Wales created the Wikimedia Foundation. The software was designed to run Wikipedia, meaning they built it “to scratch their own itch.” You can read more about the history on their MediaWiki history page or the MediaWiki page on WikiPedia.

MediaWiki has a “major release” every six months and a “long term support release (LTS)” every two years. It is licensed under version 2 of the GNU General Public License.

DokuWiki was written from scratch by Andreas Gohr in June 2004. One month later the first official release was published. In 2005, a major development was the re-design of a large section of the internals. You can read more about the history on their History of DokuWiki page, or on the DokuWiki page on WikiPedia.

New releases come out about twice a year, but there is no official schedule. The software license is GNU General Public License.

The Product

We will examine the below sections, one by one.

  1. Overview
  2. Screenshots
  3. Technology
  4. Security
  5. Features
  6. Community and Support

Let’s start with an Overview:


The basic difference between these tools is their goal. MediaWiki is meant for large and complicated wikis and DokuWiki is meant for smaller, simpler wikis. Of course, you can use MediaWiki for a small wiki and people have used DokuWiki for larger installs also. There are reports on the Scability page of installs of up to 300,000+ pages and on this forum post in German, a report of an install with close to 2 million pages.

One reader wrote in to express his opinion that MediaWiki is designed for cataloging discrete pages and it is open to community to contribute, with powerful and approval watch tools and is ideal for creating a collection of knowledge that can come from anywhere and be edited by anyone

whereas DokuWiki, on the other hand, is meant for documentation, project notes, software manual, corporate knowledge base or a private notebook — it was designed for single person use or a team with controlled access.

But the fact remains that MediaWiki is more powerful, more scalable and more flexible. With that, however, comes far more complexity as well. It’s not easy for a layman to install and configure MediaWiki, in particular any of the advanced features like extension installation.

DokuWiki, however, is very simple to install, and installing plugins and templates is a breeze.

Key Differences

MediaWiki is meant for discrete pages that are unrelated from each other, and also needs to handle complicated scenarios such as vandalism, spam, and other attacks and hence has functionalities that can help you deal with such issues and maintain a quality site.

DokuWiki is meant to handle knowlege base of related articles very well, there are reports on the scability and installations with up to 300,000+ pages and on this forum post in German, a report of an install with close to 2 million pages. However the core USP of DokuWiki is you can organise pages with namespaces. A namespace can have further namespace within itself giving it a nested tree like structure. Each namespace by default gets a start page that behaves like a landing page for that set of article and using in-built ACL tools it is easy to customise access controls for the registered team or anonymous user for entire site or for specific namespaces.

MediaWiki is translated to over 150 languages whereas DokuWiki is translated to over 50 languages.



To see a step by step explanation with screenshots of the install procedure for MediaWiki, see our blog post How to Install MediaWiki.

Here are screenshots about how to use MediaWiki:

Here the home page of a fresh, empty MediaWiki install:

MediaWiki Install 8


MediaWiki Screenshot 1

Once you’re in, there is an Edit link just above the text, right in the middle of the top section of the page:

MediaWiki Screenshot 2

If I click on that, then there is a box whereby I can edit my text. This is the default, text-based editor:

MediaWiki Screenshot 3

And if I save my changes, here is my new home page:

MediaWiki Screenshot 4

If I have the VisualEditor extension installed, then I see a “rich tex editor” like this:

MediaWiki Screenshot 5

To see a step by step explanation with screenshots of the install procedure for DokuWiki, see our blog post How to Install DokuWiki.


DokuWiki Install 6

Home page:

DokuWiki Install 7

If you put your mouse on the pencil icon on the right side of the page, you will see that a menu pops up and the first item is “Edit this page”:

DokuWiki Screenshot 1

Click on that and you get the edit page. This is the default, text-based editor:

DokuWiki Screenshot 2

And if I save my changes, here is my new home page:

DokuWiki Screenshot 3

Now if I install the CKGEdit Plugin (which is just a matter of a few clicks on the admin screens of my wiki), then I when I edit, I see a “rich tex editor” like this:

DokuWiki Screenshot 4


Both use PHP. MediaWiki requires a database of some sort (see below for options) but DokuWiki does not — it stores all data in files and requires almost no setup.


DokuWiki has a Security page where they claim:

DokuWiki is developed with security in mind. We try to find a balance between user-friendliness and security but favor security when no satisfying compromise can be found.

and there are links there to their bug reporting protocol and their bug tracking system.

MediaWiki also has a Security page meant for end users, and then a Security Guide page for developers with links to other resources like their Security page meant for developers.

A Google search for “DokuWiki security vulnerabilities” (searching with the quotes) brings up around 11 results and a search for “MediaWiki security vulnerabilities” (with quotes again) brings up around 8 results, which indicates that neither one have had a history of any serious security flaws.


Feature MediaWiki DokuWiki
WYWISYG Yes via an extension, but it requires a “node.js” server which is not available on normal shared hosting Yes
Database MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle and SQLite File Storage
Page-level Permissions Yes Yes
ACL Availablevia various extensions, see here for more info Built in
Page Preview Yes Yes
Minor Changes Yes Yes
Changes Summary Yes Yes
Page History Yes Yes
Page Revisions Yes Yes
Revision Diffs View Yes Yes
Pages Index Yes Yes
Plugin System Yes Yes
Template System Yes Yes
Caching Yes Yes
Full text search Yes Yes
API YesSee the API:Main Page for details YesSee the Remote API for details

Community and Support

DokuWiki features the active DokuWiki User Forum, powered by the Unclassified NewsBoard forum package.

MediaWiki features the Support desk forum, powered by MediaWiki itself, plus a Meta-Wiki area with more options for support such as Mailing lists and IRC. There are then tags on StackExchange’s Web Applications section as well as their ProWebmasters area.

More Information

For more information about MediaWiki, see our MediaWiki Knowledge Base.

For more information about DokuWiki, see our DokuWiki Knowledge Base.


MediaWiki is larger and more powerful, yet more complicated to setup and manage. DokuWiki is small and simple, and easier to use. Both have their place.

Both are wikis et they are quite different different. Both have their own space and usage scenario, and they both are best at what they were meant to offer at their core.

To decide you need to ask following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your Wiki.
  • Uploading of article will be open to a community or will it be handled by your organisation alone.
  • Are these articles discrete or related. eg: A user manual will have software versions (or product models) and each will have its own set of specific articles.
  • What level of access control do you need.
  • Are you a software company that wants to use repository to easily manage the documentation along with the source code.
  • Is the tool available in your language.

Post Conclusion

If you’re looking for hosting for MediaWiki or for DokuWiki, whether in the USA or Europe, we recommend CiviHosting. Let us install and secure your wiki for you:

About the Author
David Feldman is a Senior Technical Advisor for CiviHosting, You can contact him via our Contact Us page.