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Revision as of 14:13, 28 October 2011 by Wordman (talk | contribs) (Added question about how to handle the User: namespace.)
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Experience with the UserFriendlyCategories project reveals a number of common mistakes people make when using this wiki, mostly because the proper method is not that obvious. This page intends to act as a primer for wiki users that distills information from help pages like WhatIsAWiki, TextFormattingRules and BestPractices in a way that is a bit more intelligible and less daunting for a newcomer.

If you're reading this, you probably want to do something with the wiki, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. Hopefully, one of the questions below will match your desire and the answer will show you the way.

What should I do first?

The first thing to do is follow the QuickStartGuide's advice on making your user page. Much of the wiki is based around your user page.

How should I set up my user page?

Once upon a time, this wiki was run using software called UseModWiki. It is now run using MediaWiki. Why does this matter? Well, MediaWiki has the concept of "namespaces", once of which is the "user" name space. If you are used to MediaWiki, this is where your userpage would usually go; however, the wiki existed for so long without namespaces that most people do not use the user name space (or any other namespace). This is one area where people who are used to using MediaWiki are likely to be more confused than people who don't, because this wiki intentionally does not use some of MediaWiki's features. Generally speaking, your pages will fit into this site better if you don't either. Here is one approach that seems to work (though there may be others):

  1. When you add your name to the UserPages, don't use the user namespace. For example, add the link as [[MyName]], not [[User:MyName]].
  2. This will create a link to your user page, which you can edit as usual.
  3. Go to your [[User:MyName]] page. Add the line #REDIRECT [[MyName]] to it and save. This will make any reference to [[User:MyName]] lead to your "real" user page.

If this last step seems inscrutable and confusing, don't worry about it. Just follow the first two steps.

How can I practice using wiki markup without screwing things up?

There are two main places where you can experiment with formatting text and seeing how things look with basic impunity. The first is your user page (another reason why creating one is important). The other is the SandBox.

When you are experimenting, you should make sure to check the "Minor edit" checkbox when saving. This will prevent your tinkering from being announced on the RecentChanges page (except to people who specifically turn on a setting in their Preferences to see minor edits).

Also, any time your are editing, make sure you log in. (See BestPractices for how to do this.)

What should I name a new page?

This is an area where a lot of first timers make mistakes, so a bit of learning here before your start making pages will save you (and others) a lot of aggravation.

When you look at the names of existing pages, you might get the (incorrect) impression that names act like paths in a directory. This is not actually the case. As is (not very well) explained in SlashLinksAreNotPaths, the idea of a page name isn't to somehow use "paths" to categorize it, but rather to come up with a unique identifier for a page that doesn't monopolize common names for any one user.

As an example: suppose you have this cool way of using adamant weapons in your campaign, and want to share it with people. You might think to call the page AdamantWeapons. The problem with using that name is that this page is about your way of using adamant weapons. Someone else might also have a good, but totally different idea about adamant weapons and also want to claim the AdamantWeapons name.

So, who "wins" the name? Neither of you. The convention that has evolved is to create unique page names by starting with your username, followed by a slash, followed by whatever you want to call it (e.g. you call yours Fred/AdamantWeapons and the other guy calls his Bob/AdamantWeapons). In this way, you can make all the pages in your "space" have unique names within that space, and don't stomp on the name choices of others. Note that you should not use spaces or underscores in page names, but rather WordsJammedTogether (again, see BestPractices).

So, your first instinct should always be to create pages following a YourUserName/WhateverPageNameYouLike pattern, unless you have a really good reason not to. (This is spelled out more completely in BestPractices.)

What might those good reasons be? They exist, but it is sort of one of those "if you have to ask, you shouldn't do it" kind of things. As you gain more experience with this wiki community, you will get to a point where you "just know" if creating a "top level" page is appropriate. But, here are the typical deviations from the YourUserName/WhateverPageNameYouLike pattern.

  1. For some reason, some very common types of user content has evolved to use a different naming convention. Key among these are pages containing custom charms. If you have a page containing your own, say, solar lore charms, the "correct" convention for that page is to call it SolarLore/YourUserName, adding a link to it on the SolarLore page. Keep your eyes open for other pages that work like this.
  2. Pages about martial arts styles have also developed their own convention. Typically, they are MartialArts/NameOfTheStyle.
  3. Projects intended to be communal and open to all editors, such as ATaxonomyOfMadness or the LexiconOfElderDays, are best served as "top level" links. Likewise, pages created as "top level" links are usually assumed to be communal, so don't be surprised when others start editing them.
  4. As another example, say you wanted to create a page that collected everyone's ideas about adamant weapons. That would be a case where the AdamantWeapons name would be appropriate. Such a page would contain links to both Fred/AdamantWeapons and Bob/AdamantWeapons and an expectation that others would add to and alter the page at will.
  5. Some large projects warrant a top level page, even though they are mainly the work of one author (such as SilverMasks or some large campaign pages). As a beginner, though, you are better off assuming that this does not apply to you, even if you think it might. One crucial thing about such pages is that they avoid general terms for names, and so keep uniqueness without "laying claim" to an important name.
  6. When in doubt, post a message on NamingAdvice or your user page asking people for help (make sure that the "Minor edit" box is unchecked and plead for help in the comment, so that people seeing the RecentChanges page will see).

How do I edit pages I don't "own"?

Technically, you have the ability to edit any page in the wiki, but this is sometimes rude. Your own pages are obviously fine to edit. As mentioned above, "top level" pages are also considered fair game. Directly editing the pages of others is usually considered bad. Instead, commenting on the pages of others is considered appropriate. That is, most pages have a "comments" section at the bottom, where people can comment on what the user is doing. (If the page doesn't have such a section, most people won't mind if you add one, unless the page says that they are not looking for comments.)

It is considered bad form to delete comments, always. Sometimes people create "old comments" pages to clean up a page, moving "outdated" comments there, but comments typically exist forever once made.

Some exceptions to this exist. For example, sometimes people will correct typos or incorrect formatting on the pages of others, but this is usually accompanied with a comment that it was done.

Oops, I named a page badly. How do I move or delete it?

In the old software, you could not do this. The MediaWiki software, however, can. See Help:Moving a page and Help:Deleting a page. In some cases, you may be better off just using a redirect instead.

How do I make links look better?

Suppose you have a link that leads to the CrunchRelay, but you want the link to say "I love the crunch relay". To do so, you'd create a link that looked like this [[CrunchRelay|I love the crunch relay]]. It would render like this: I love the crunch relay.

You can see more about this in TextFormattingRules.

How do I track my campaign on this wiki?

Build a page like YourUserName/NameOfTheCampaign and add a links to it to both your own user page and the Campaigns page.

How do I track my characters on this wiki?

Build a page like YourUserName/CharacterName and add a links to it to both your own user page and to one of the sub-pages of the Characters page. For example, if the character is a solar, put your link on Characters/Solars. You should also look at FormatStandards/CharacterFormat.

How can I make a link that leads to the middle of a page, rather than the top?

This wiki provides named anchors automatically whenever you use a section heading, and a simple way to link to them. See more at InterPageLinks.

How do I use tables?

For formatting advice, see TextFormattingRules.