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Document last modified: Tue, 15 Jun 2010, 19:29 UTC
Parents: WikiHelp/

Wiki Help/How Wiki Works

This page describes how wikis in general and this wiki in particular work. As you may already know, a wiki is a website which any visitor can modify.

1 Pages
2 Relations between pages
3 Editing pages
4 Empty pages and how to delete pages
5 Keeping track of changes
6 Undoing changes
7 Keeping track of contributors
8 There is no protection! How can this work?

1) Pages

The wiki's content is split into pages.

Every page in the wiki has a title. Titles are usually capitalized words run together LikeThis?. The reason is to make it easy for the wiki engine to recognize such titles in the text on other pages and transform them automatically into /WikiLinks to the pages with those titles.

Please note that sometimes the wiki administrator may choose to show the page titles (those on the page and/or those on the browser window) split with spaces, like regular words. On this wiki, we've chosen not to split the title shown on pages, so people can relate to a page more directly. We've split the title on the windows though, for the sake of search engine spiders. We'll get a lot more relevant hits from search engines if the titles they see are normal words.

2) Relations between pages

There's no particular relation between any two pages on a wiki, other than the links to other pages that any page can contain. The structure and logic of a wiki come from how well its community organizes the flow of information. There are no directories and subdirectories or any such thing.

(There's something that may look like an exception: /WikiCategories. Read their page for details.)

3) Editing pages

Anybody can click the "edit this page" link in the top or bottom menu on any page and modify that page. If you do that you'll be presented with a text entry which holds the page contents. You can freely modify it. There are certain /TextFormattingRules which you need to apply if you want to achieve certain effects (such as links, bold, lists and so on).

If you're not sure your edit will produce the intended result you can preview the page before saving it. You can also go practice in the SandBox all you like.

You should remember to add a reason for your change every time you save a page, as well as following /GoodWikiStyle.

Saving a page will always produce a new version of it, and make it current. See keeping track of changes below to see why.

4) Empty pages and how to delete pages

To delete a page simply delete all its contents and save the blank page. Once a page is empty it will be targeted by the automatic cleaner. If it stays empty for a long period of time it will be deleted together with all its past versions. References to it will become "create-this-page" links.

This period of safety is needed so nobody can actually delete a page directly. All anyone can do is empty a page. The rest of the community is given the chance to review this and decide if it is OK.

5) Keeping track of changes

Naturally, it's very useful to be able to see how a page has changed in order to review what the others in the community are doing. Therefore, changing a page doesn't overwrite the old contents, but instead creates a new version of the page. Old versions are kept around for reference for a certain period of time (usually two weeks) and then they are deleted automatically.

To see past versions of any page, use the "page history" link in the menu. You will see a list of recent changes, which can be expanded to all the page changes. Use the "preferences" entry in the menu to set how many changes you will see.

You can compute differences between any two versions of a page and have them rendered in an easy to read format. You can also preview how any version looks when actually presented to people, and you can edit and restore them, too.

Editing and saving any version, be it the current one or a past one, will create yet another new version. This way, nothing is ever lost until the safety period passes.

See WikiChanges for a set of tools which can assist you in quickly perusing recent changes across more than one page.

6) Undoing changes

Since you can edit any past version, it's probably obvious how you can quickly restore any past version to be current: go to the page history; edit the past version; save it. That's all. Don't forget to add your reason for doing so, though.

This comes in very handy when bad people post spam, for instance. You can very easily restore a good version of the affected page. Of course, bad people can do it too. This is about convenience first of all, not security.

7) Keeping track of contributors

There are no user accounts on this wiki. Some wikis implement them, but not this one. You can use your preferences to set several things, including your name. Those preferences will be saved in a browser cookie on your own hard-disk, so make sure your browser allows this site to set cookies.

Whatever name you choose will be recorded as the one who did the modification. That's all. Really, it's just a convenient way of recording a name into the logs, rather than any kind of access control or proper logging. You can use your real name, somebody else's or go with whatever the default is.

8) There is no protection! How can this work?

It does, somehow, in spite of there being next to no protection from bad people. See /WikiSpirit to understand how that is possible and how you can cope with bad people.


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Document last modified: Tue, 15 Jun 2010, 19:29 UTC
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