Leave it to people in the wiki market to know how to collaborate. Nearly 20 different wiki providers have teamed up to offer a new Firefox extension that will notify users whenever they are on a page that is publicly editable, using a standard icon that sits in the same place the RSS autodiscovery icon appears. Clicking on the icon (img. on the left) will take you to that page's editing interface.

It's a great little idea that could help breath new life into the wiki community. We would love to see the extension become a standard part of Firefox.

From the very first wiki built by wiki inventor Ward Cunningham to Wikipedia, how-to megawiki Wikihow, the Creative Commons wiki and a number of wiki software installations, the support for the initiative is fairly broad. Other wikis are working on full support, SocialText sites require that a user be logged-in before the button appears right now and the fast proliferating DekiWiki software will support the extension soon. WordPress support is also said to be forthcoming.

The group says that the Universal Edit Button "will be a convenience to web surfers who are already inclined to contribute, and an invitation to those who have yet to discover the thrill of building a common resource."

"As this kind of public editing becomes more commonplace," they say, "the button may become regarded as a badge of honor. It may serve as an incentive to encourage companies and site developers to add publicly-editable components to their sites, in order to have the UEB displayed for their sites. We hope that this button catalyzes the acceleration of the editable web, and helps accelerate society's trend toward building valued common resources."

We do wonder how many people notice the RSS icon in the browser toolbar, and thus how many people will notice the Universal Edit Button - but we love the idea. The fact is, the world is full of people who don't even know the difference between the address bar and the search bar of their browsers.

Installing this extension is a no-brainer though and could help any of us remember to edit the pages we knew we could but perhaps didn't think about. Seeing all these wiki providers come together to build a common standard is particularly inspiring.