Interwiki linking is a facility for creating links to the many wiki wiki webs on the World Wide Web. Users avoid pasting in entire URLs (as they would for regular web pages) and instead use a shorthand similar to links within the same wiki (intrawiki links).
Unlike domain names on the Internet, there is no globally defined list of interwiki prefixes, so owners of a wiki must define a mapping appropriate to their needs. Users generally have to create separate accounts for each wiki they intend to use (unless they intend to edit anonymously). Variations in text formatting and layout can also hinder a seamless transition from one wiki to the next.
By making wiki links simpler to type for the members of a particular community, these features help bring the different wikis closer together. Furthering that goal, interwiki "bus tours" (similar to webrings) have been created to explain the purposes and highlights of different wikis. Such examples on Wikipedia include Wikipedia:TourBusStop and Wikipedia:WikiNode.
Interwiki link notation varies, depending largely on the syntax a wiki uses for markup. The two most common link patterns in wikis are CamelCase and free links (arbitrary phrases surrounded by some set delimiter, such as [[double square brackets]]). CURIE syntax uses a single set of square brackets.
Interwiki links on a CamelCase-based wiki frequently take the form of "Code:PageName", where Code is the defined InterMap prefix for another wiki. Thus, a link "WikiPedia:InterWiki" could be rendered in HTML as a link to an article on Wikipedia for example Wikipedia:Interlanguage links. Linking from a CamelCase-wiki to a page that contains spaces in its title typically requires substitution of the spaces with underscores (e.g. WikiPedia:Main_Page).
Interwiki links on wikis based on free links, such as Wikipedia, typically follow the same principle, but using the delimiters that would be used for internal links. These links can then be parsed and escaped as they would be if they were internal, allowing easier typing of spaces but potentially causing problems with other special characters. For example, on Wikipedia,
[[MeatBall:AssumeGoodFaith]] appears as MeatBall:AssumeGoodFaith, and
[[:de:InterWiki]] (former syntax:
[[DeWikipedia:InterWiki]]) appears as de:InterWiki.
The MediaWiki software has an additional feature which uses similar notation to create automatic interlanguage links - for instance, the link
[[de:InterWiki]] (with no leading colon) automatically creates a reference labelled "Other languages: Deutsch | ..." at the top and bottom of, or in a sidebar next to, the article display. Various other wiki software systems have features for "semi-internal" links of this kind, such as support for namespaces or multiple sub-communities.
Full article ▸