PBWorks – the mother of all Wikis

Originally, known as PBWiki, PBWorks is an online collaborative environment that allows users to create wikis fairly easily. It operates on the “freemium” model (free low level features plus a fee for higher levels that offer more features) and uses its own proprietary software which seems to evolve and improve year by year. When it was first released, it was markedly simpler to use than other wiki programs and has added more functionality such as more stringent security measures and audit logs which holds appeal for commercial applications. I have some experience with the company/product through doing a wiki for a History 12 class. A great product/service that I feel educators should explore given the time. So…

Face 1: Market Focus-(K-12, higher education, commercial)

PBWorks has and is being used by all three of the above categories. Save lower level grades (which might not be able to use computers until a certain age), this product has huge appeal for middle school and high school, universities/colleges, and businesses as well. According to their website, commercial ventures are their main focus with the claim to fame that they have users in half of the Fortune 500 list.

 Face 2: Types of Offerings-services rendered/product description

Obviously, the company offers workspaces for individuals, companies, cohorts etc to collaborate on various projects or personal quests. Simply, a wiki is a set of interlinked web pages that allows the user(s) to edit and share information in particular field or application. These wikis allow for different levels of access and editing/deletion abilities so as to preserve the integrity of the work being done. One is able to navigate fairly easily through a number of pages in specific folders and users can leave comments and insert both links to other pages/sites and actual multimedia files.

 Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

The buyer fits into seven different categories including:

 Master Pricing Guide









Annual Price

(unlimited guests)


(unlimited staff/clients)






 The basic/free level appeals to individuals and those needing only basic services. The “Public” level is aimed at libraries/institutions while the differences between the Classroom and Campus editions is the number of users and number of workspaces. Standard, Legal and Project editions all allow for unlimited storage measured in Gigabytes. The differences between all seven categories is fairly substantial. For more go to:


 Face 4 – Global Markets

According to PBWorks, the only language that it is offered in is English (main business language) “PBworks itself (tools, help, support) is not available in languages other than English.” However, it utilizes Unicode meaning that any language that you can type in from your computer will be displayed in the workspace pages. So, you can use other languages but if you need help it is going to be in English. Customers include companies from Australia, the US, the UK, South Korea, Canada and China. A company like Bracewell and Giuliani has ten offices around the world and 450 attorneys. Basically, the nature of the product/service makes it very attractive for anyone with Internet access that wants a collaborative experience.

 Face 5 – Development of the Market

Arguably, PBWorks is the giant in the wiki business. Over 50 000 businesses subscribe, they host over 900 000 workspaces and millions of users utilize it each day. According to various sources, the company does spend time/money developing new features that reflect what their customers are telling them or are based on observed trends.

 Face 6 – Integrating the product in the education system

The product itself is relatively easy to use and includes very substantial and well developed webinars and technical support – that is a strength of the company. Hardware needed to run this is minimal and speed of the internet connection is not absolutely crucial. The playing of multimedia might be an issue. Getting students to use this would not be hard as it imitates blogging in some ways; however, some might feel self conscious posting comments/ideas using their own names. Cost is quite low and can be free unless many features are needed. Evaluating user contributions can be eased by paying more for a higher level edition.



1 Sean McMinn { 09.23.09 at 10:07 pm }


I had just finished writing my analysis in MS Word, ready to paste, and ten I saw you posted your analysis about PBworks just minutes before me. So it was interesting to see how were came up with mainly a similar analysis with some minor differences.

I noticed that you mentioned the fact the PBwork is limited to English only. You’re right. This limits their competitive edge worldwide, especially with MediaWiki which does allow for other languages (I think).


2 Sean McMinn { 09.23.09 at 10:08 pm }

BTW: sorry for the typos … I wish I could edit my comments, too.

3 Greg Lewis { 09.24.09 at 7:57 am }


Cool avatar – little bit of XMen (Kurt _____) perhaps coming throught the wall?


4 Ernest Pao { 09.25.09 at 10:54 pm }

Hi Greg,

I actually used Pbwiki for my social responsibility classes last year. I haven’t been on our ‘old’ wiki site since last May and we’re in the process of transferring the info to our own wiki site on our own server. I didn’t realize it had changed to Pbworks so thanks for the info. Any ideas if there are any functionality changes between the previous Pbwiki and the new Pbworks? Our previous school wiki still looks the same and when I tried tinkering with it, I didn’t really notice any difference.

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