Editing the Wiki

Wiki Resource Management & Use (Documentation)

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Mac_Fife
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Editing the Wiki

Post by Mac_Fife » Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:43 pm

It's clear that a lot of people are unfamiliar with creating pages in the wiki. Most people seem to be comfortable with forums (they pretty much all use "BBCode" markup, no matter which forum software is in use). The wiki is similar, but different; different enough to give the novice user problems. There is some help available on this site, but it's probably not entirely adequate.

Use this thread to post problems or questions you have with editing the wiki, and I'll try to answer them. Although this is JWPlatt's website, I guess the wiki is "my baby" ;) .

For other issues related to the Wiki, please create new threads.

As topics come out here, I'll try to extend the coverage of the help guides.

Thanks.
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Dot » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:28 pm

Thanks, Mac Fife.

A question on the help on Page Titling...

What exactly is a Namespace? I know the help page explains that it is 'a way of organising pages according to how they are used', but I don't understand the significance of that. And how does a Namespace relate to a Category?

I guess this probably should be in a separate thread, since it is a question about structure rather than editing. But how you edit could well depend on the underlying structure.

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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Nalates » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:37 pm

I've added a couple of threads on separate issues.

I'm finding the MediaWiki help to be good for "technical how to" but really lacks the concepts. I think the idea of wiki's is for organizing information for easy retrieval and cross referencing. The search function is the important tool and I suspect all of the wiki is geared toward making it effective. My problem and I think Dot's is understanding how the parts work in that context.
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by JWPlatt » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:38 pm

Think of Namespace as a simple outline without the content. Content then gets placed where the outline says to put it.
Perfect speed is being there.

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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Mac_Fife » Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:29 pm

Dot wrote:What exactly is a Namespace? I know the help page explains that it is 'a way of organising pages according to how they are used', but I don't understand the significance of that. And how does a Namespace relate to a Category?
For the most part, you can ignore Namespaces. Probably the best way to think about them is that they're a way of separating out different "types" of page rather than being related to the content "on" the page. Most pages anyone will create will go into the default Main namespace (which ironically doesn't actually have a name - it is the "null" namespace).

There are several pre-configured namespaces in a wiki, things like:
  • "Special" - which is used for the pages linked from the "special pages" link on the sidebar.
  • "Help" - the wiki "help" pages are in this namespace, spookily enough.
  • "User" - pages for individuals to describe themselves, give contact info or whatever.
Each namespace has a "partner": Talk, Help talk and User talk for the examples above. You might have noticed that at the top of a wiki page is a "discussion" tab? Selecting that opens a different page, where on some wikis you can debate the page content. These discussion pages reside in "talk" namespaces. Here, we prefer to use the forums to discuss content revisions. I sometimes use the discussion tab as a scratchpad for notes and drafts of things I want to put on the proper page later.

The reason for mentioning namespaces at all is because of the way they're referenced in a page title. A full page name consists of the page's namespace and title separated by a colon:
namespace_name:page_title

For most pages, the namespace is "null" so it is enough to just call it:
page_title

You can see these when you hover over a link in the wiki.

A while back, in complete innocence, a user created a series of pages and in order to show they were related added a common prefix to each page title, separating it from the title with a colon. That doesn't actually force the creation of a new namespace in the wiki (that has to be done in a configuration file) so the pages went into the Main namespace anyway, but it did alert me to possibility that someone could accidentally create a page that referenced and existing namespace (e.g. OpenURU is a default namespace on this wiki).
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Dot » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:59 pm

Thanks for the explanations.
Mac_Fife wrote:A while back, in complete innocence, a user created a series of pages and in order to show they were related added a common prefix to each page title, separating it from the title with a colon...
:oops: I simply did what I would normally do when editing: use colons rather than dashes in titles.

Edit: Would this be a place where Categories could be used, to show the related pages?

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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Mac_Fife » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Dot wrote: :oops: I simply did what I would normally do when editing: use colons rather than dashes in titles.
:lol: It wasn't you I was referring to!

Well, we have an established precedent of using hyphens in the titles (see the Community Portal page). That's a kind of "alphabetical sort" kind of way to help put related pages together when you generate a list of them. But that's based purely on the title, not the actual content. I don't think you should get too hung up on trying to create structure using page titles.

I've still to answer your query on creating structure - that's probably the right place to talk about organisation of pages. Think of categories as a range of alternate indexes, the way they do with CIP catalogue data you sometimes see near the ISBN reference in the front of books.
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Mac_Fife » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:13 pm

Most of the basic information you need on applying formatting should be obtainable from the Basic Editing help page. For relatively common things, it's mainly a case of highlighting the text you want to format then clicking on the appropriate format button above the edit window. There is a more detailed description of "wiki markup" on the meta wiki site.

There are a couple of things that are worth remembering, that maybe don't come across in the documentation too well:
  • Headings: When you insert a heading using the button in the editor it creates an entry like == Section heading ==. The == ... == indicates that this is a "level 1" heading. To create nested sub-headings within a section you can use === Level 2 sub-heading ===, ==== Level 3 sub-heading ====, etc. The one thing you shouldn't do is create a level 0 heading (= My Heading =): It will work, but actually puts the heading at the same level as the page title. It's messy and confusing.
  • Tables of Contents: Some pages, but not all, will show a Table of Contents (TOC) at the top of the page. The TOC is automatically generated if the page has more than about three headings on it. You can supress the TOC by inserting the directive __NOTOC__ near the top of your page. Alternatively, placing __TOC__ somewhere in the body of your page will force the TOC to appear there, instead of at the default position at the top of the page. There are further positioning tricks using Templates (see below).
  • HTML: Although not everything is supported, wikis do allow a significant level of HTML to be included in pages. For example, you might find that the wiki markup for creating tables is difficult to follow (and I do at times) then you can use HTML tables instead. There is also support for things like DIVs (<div> ... </div>) which is handy for controlling layout, as you can make things like sidebar text boxes and so on that way. You'll see some examples in my tutorial on using images.
  • Templates: Templates are a way that some commonly used layout features can be re-used. These aren't like MS-Word templates - think of them like "text macros", a kind of shorthand for things you might do frequently. There are a number of templates I've already made and listed on Page Creation Tools.
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Nalates » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:07 pm

Thanks... your explanations help.
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Re: Editing the Wiki

Post by Mac_Fife » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:35 pm

I'd forgotten about this - I looked at it maybe over a year ago, but never used it much myself. It did work though...

For people who aren't comfortable with the wiki editor and markup language, there is a plug-in for Open Office that allows you to create articles in OO Writer then export them directly into a wiki (logs in to the wiki and posts the item for you). Can't remember if there's any issue with having to manually tweak hyperlinks after export.

http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/node/2526

I note that a number of people report problems with this plug-in, particularly on Ubuntu, but I found it worked fine with OO 3.0 on Win XP.
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