The term wiki refers to 'collaborative authoring'; that is, a way for many people to write something together. This process is driven by the capabilities of hypertext and the way it enables authors to make links between units of information. However, Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger (2000) have pointed out that: hypertext is inherently nonhierarchical..., a fundamental, limiting attribute that severely inhibits a pure hypertext wiki as a knowledge representing system because the hierarchical nature of knowledge is its most fundamental characteristic.

Hypertext systems are therefore ideal for writing an unstructured encyclopaedia like wikipedia that do not have or need the structure of say a novel. Typically, a pure hypertext system does not have a framework like the structure of a book. Hypertext systems can only deal with relationships between items through direct linking. The links themselves are not classified or managed in any way.

In a pure hypertext system like wikipedia, a wiki author, in one page of the wiki can write a sentence like this wherein the words in bold are linked to other wiki pages/entries:

"Paul has a friend named Peter. He also has a friend in Australia named John pictured here. In addition, Paul has a colleague Martin who works with him on Project X and another colleague Anna who works in the statistics division of Paul's company."

In a pure hypertext system, the simple network of information in the sentence above cannot be interrogated through questions such as:

..... and many, many other possible questions that could be asked and are inherent in the 'natural' web of relations, interactions and associations among the individuals mentioned in the hypertext chunk above.

Perhaps the most obvious attribute of relations, interactions and associations is that they can be classified and that such classification enables a vastly superior universe of ways of interrogating the web of information structured by such classification. This kind of classification and creation of structure is what a relational model provides as the theoretical basis for relational databases. (It is amazing that the Relational (Database) Model (RDBM) was only invented in the 1970's by E.F. Todd while working for IBM - an employer who ignored his insights until after other commercial players started implementing them.)

A powerful extension of 'relational design' is the idea of object-oriented programming (OOP): a programming paradigm that uses "objects" - data structures consisting of datafields and methods together with their interactions – to design applications and computer programs. The combination of RDBM- and OOP-thinking establishes the ideal and critically essential ontological framework necessary to comply with the fundamental, hierarchical, relational and categorical nature of human knowledge. The (RDBM x OOP) combination implemented 'in' the n-dimensional hyperspace enabled by the Internet/www is the minimum starting point for any serious attempt at managing knowledge as opposed to interlinking information based on the personal perspectives and points of view of individual wiki authors.

EcoPort's central nature is that of relational database engine that models, defines and manages the hierarchical, relational and categorical nature of ecology information in a system wherein the wiki capability is used only to manage the communication process. Hence our definition of EcoPort as a relational wiki.

This description omits explanation of several other unique, top-level capabilities and attributes of the EcoPort system and service such as why we are not a distributed network and the fact that we therefore do not need an inter-system, meta-ontology etc.