Jason Ginsberg / 10.28.2022Home / guides

How to create a private wiki

Wikis are a focal point for personal and professional knowledge. How can you use them privately?
Document with right half blurred and encrypted text.
You've probably used a wiki before. If you're a student, you've probably used one to organize your class notes or share them with classmates - or devoured content from public wikis to quickly learn about a new topic. You might have a personal wiki for your life, goals, plans, and projects.If you're a developer, you or your company may have private wikis for project management, for software development, or to document how-to information for other members of your team. Or maybe you've seen wikis used in other contexts — for instance, in companies where employees use them to share knowledge about best practices and processes that may be useful across departments or at different levels within an organization.


A wiki is an easy to use and highly adaptable website that allows users to share and participate in the creation of content. Some examples of wikis include Wikipedia and all sorts of collaborative websites such as GitHub, Stack Exchange, and even this very page. Wikis are typically highly inter-linked, or internally reference content through links and logical connections.A private wiki is a wiki only you have access to, either in a personal or professional environment. While some wikis, such as Wikipedia, are shared with the entire world, most internal wikis or personal knowledge is intended to keep private and never shared with the world. Wikipedia is a collaborative platform with a neutral point of view that anyone can edit. It was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. As of October 2019, there are more than 39 million articles in over 300 languages. From there, thousands of additional wikis have been created, from fan-maintained articles about movies, to developer and productivity communities.Private wikis are useful if you want to share information with only certain people or keep personal, professional, or customer information private. However, it's also useful for any other situation where you want your own personal space on the web without worrying about others seeing (and potentially stealing) what's inside it.

Wikis vs. document collaboration

A wiki is a type of website that allows users to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change website content in a collaborative manner. This is in contrast to most websites, where only a designated website administrator can make changes to the website. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and communities - Wikipedia, Quora, Wikitravel, and more.There are many benefits to using a wiki. One benefit is that it allows for a website to be constantly updated and edited by a community of users, rather than relying on a single website administrator. This can result in a more accurate and up-to-date website, as well as a website that is more reflective of the community it represents.Another benefit of using a wiki is that it can be a more democratic way of creating and managing a website. Rather than having a single administrator who has complete control over the website, a wiki allows for a more collaborative approach where everyone can have a say in how the website is run. This can lead to a more effective and efficient website that better meets the needs of its users. Frequently, multiple team members can vote, edit, and participate in creating and editing content.Overall, wikis can be a very effective way to create and manage a website. They offer a number of advantages over traditional websites, including being more accurate and up-to-date, more reflective of the community, and more democratic. In the rest of this blog, we’ll share more about how private wikis are used for knowledge management or personal work. Then, we’ll review a few popular products for creating and managing them.

Why do you want a private wiki?

You can use a private wiki to organize and share knowledge across your organization. Private wikis are great for communicating with colleagues, other members of an organization, or family members. However, if a wiki is created on a public server and shared with the wrong people, you can run into a lot of problems. This can be anything from content leakage to spammy comments and even vandalism. For example, in a company with tens of thousands of employees, maintaining an editable company wiki or workspace that spans the entire organization could lead to knowledge being shared in unintended ways, or possibly being exfiltrated to other sources.The reason this happens is because wikis are meant to be open spaces where users can add content without needing approval from anyone else, but they also serve as repositories for sensitive information. If the private wiki you create isn't properly secured, then someone might see something they shouldn't or get access to something they don't need access to—and that could lead to major internal or external trust issues.

The old way: Wikis on your servers

In the past, larger organizations have chosen to run their own wiki software on internal servers, which are frequently separated from the public internet. In the early days of the internet, these could be simple HTML viewers, or more sophisticated software for internal wiki management or publication.However, the security, configuration, and maintenance costs of this solution are significantly greater than using cloud-based wiki software. For example, you may need to setup a firewall, so that no one but your internal organization can access the contents of the wiki. At some scale, this may require setting up VPN access directly to these internal servers, as well as significant protections against malware and viruses by scanning for threats with an antivirus program regularly.

Wikis help share knowledge, but only when private

A wiki can help you organize and share knowledge, but only if it's private.Wikis have become one of the most popular software tools for organizing and sharing information. They're incredibly useful, but their openness means that anyone who knows about your wiki can access it, which may not be desirable. If your business has information, docs, or institutional knowledge that must be kept secure, then a fully open-source wiki might not be ideal.In the following sections, we’ll review different types of wiki products that individuals and organizations may consider using for knowledge management, onboarding new employees, and for file storage. However, most of these products are not built for security. From there, we’ll review wiki tools that build in end-to-end encryption and finer grained sharing options to increase user privacy.

Popular, but not privacy-first

ConfluenceAtlassian’s Confluence product is a team collaboration tool that allows users to create, share, and collaborate on documents. It is similar to a wiki, but with more features and a better user interface. Confluence is used by organizations of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and small businesses. Confluence is frequently packaged with other Atlassian products, such as Jira (issue tracking and project management).Confluence is praised for its commenting, formatting toolbar, and collaboration options inside its WYSIWYG editor, which provide easy ways for teams to share knowledge and give feedback on work. Atlassian also offers a plugin marketplace wherein additional software can be installed to augment built-in functionality.NotionNotion is an all-in-one knowledge hub for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. It's like a cross between a word processor and a spreadsheet, with a little bit of presentation software mixed in. You can use it for everything from taking notes to managing a team project. The basic idea behind Notion is that you can have everything in one place. That means your notes, to-do lists, wiki pages, and a database can all live inside one home page. And because everything is in one place, you can easily keep track of everything and get work done more efficiently.Notion is designed to be flexible, so you can use it for a wide variety of purposes. For example, you can use it to take notes for a meeting, create a to-do list, track a project's progress, or manage a team Wiki. Notion is also designed to be collaborative, so you can easily share your work with others and work together on projects. You can also add integration and comment or mention users on any page, so you can create more conversational workflows.However, Notion supports only the most basic enterprise security features and is not end-to-end encrypted. Ultimately, for a private wiki, end-to-end encryption is a critical need for keeping your data safe. For more information on encrypted note taking products, check out our blog on the subject.

Best products for creating private wikis

ObsidianObsidian is a note taking tool that allows you to create and organize your notes in a way that is both efficient and effective. With Obsidian, you can create notes that are linked to other notes, making it easy to cross-reference and find information. You can also tag your notes, making it easy to find specific notes later on. In addition, Obsidian allows you to create and share notes with others, making collaboration easy.Whether you are taking notes for class, work, or personal use, Obsidian is a tool that can help you be more organized and productive. With its markdown syntax and ability to link notes, Obsidian is a tool that can help you make the most of your notes or thoughts, particularly for a technical audience.Obsidian also allows for end-to-end encryption of your notes, keeping personal information completely private to you. However, one note is that Obsidian may have a steeper learning curve due to sophisticated options for interlinking pages and thoughts together. As a result, Obsidian could be a good choice for a personal wiki, as opposed to a larger organization that must manage a significant amount of wiki content.SkiffSkiff is a privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted workspace for writing, collaborating, and communicating. It includes a wiki-based product called Skiff Pages, which supports completely secure and end-to-end encrypted notes that can be connected to other notes. Multiple user can also collaborate in real-time on notes, pages, or documents, and publish them to the web from directly inside the app.Skiff is an incredibly user-friendly product that also offers mobile and native apps, including applications for iOS and Android, as well as powerful sharing functionality for adding additional users or sharing external wikis with viewable or editable links. When creating new pages, Skiff also supports templates, both inside your workspace and from a set of pre-existing pages.Skiff also offers products for end-to-end encrypted file storage and sharing, allowing wikis to contain or embed files, and replace storage products like Google Drive. Skiff Mail - which enables sending and receiving end-to-end encrypted email - is also integrated inside the Skiff workspace. Whether you’re creating an internal knowledge base, tracking personal files, or managing homework, Skiff is an excellent, privacy-first product for creating a free wiki.


Creating a wiki requires an investment in security and privacy, no matter whether the use will be internal (for personal thoughts) or external (for your company). Managing permissions, access, and content is critical for any organization’s good security practices. In this blog, we discussed some common wiki platforms that organizations and individuals may choose; overall, we recommend Skiff and Obsidian for professional and personal use.We hope that you enjoyed this tutorial on how to create a private wiki. We welcome any feedback you may have and encourage you join our Discord, follow us on Twitter, or read more of our blog entries below.

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