Sin bravely

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Have no fear.

Learn by doing. We learned how to talk by talking badly and how to walk by walking badly. You can't learn to ride a bike by reading books about it (unless it is a very good book!). You will learn how to be an editor on the wiki by editing pages on the wiki. Learn one thing at a time and eventually you, too, will be a wikimaster.

It is very difficult to break the wiki.

Every page on the site has a history.

If you make a terrible mistake while editing a page, all you have to do is Cancel the edit.

If you make the mistake of saving a terrible mistake, all you have to do is go to the history tab at the top of the page and ask the wiki to revert to the previous edition.

All of your sins will be washed away at the touch of a button.

The worst case is that you do something so disastrous that the whole site will blow up, sparks will start flying out of our server, and our ISP's place of business will go up in smoke. That's OK. They have insurance and they keep copies of our site on someone else's equipment away from the burnt-out ruin of their business. We'll be back up and running in no time and--here's the neat thing--we will have learned something from the experience.

Write anything. It can all be fixed up later.

First steps

Log in

  • When you arrive at the Ameliapedia, look in the upper-right corner for tiny, nearly illegible print that says "log in."
  • Click on that link.
  • Enter your username and password.
  • If you have the right username and password, you will be logged in.
  • If the login doesn't work, write me and we'll try something else.

Edit your own user page

  • After you've logged in, the upper-right corner of the screen will change.
  • You should see red links for your username, talk page, and probably preferences.

Play with the mysterious edit buttons

  • When you're in an edit screen, you'll see a bunch of icons just above the text area.
  • Pressing any of the buttons will cause stuff to appear in the text area.
'''Bold text'''

''Italic text''

[[Link title]]

[ link title]

== Headline text ==



<math>Insert formula here</math>

Insert non-formatted text here

  • This is not the kind of thing that will cause the system to have conniptions, so go ahead and play with all of the buttons. If you find something that does make the system crash, please let us know what it was so that we can try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Thanks!

Red links, blue links

  • Red links mean that the page has not yet been edited AND SAVED.
    • Click on the red link for your username. You will be thrown into the edit screen for the page that belongs to you most personally. Your heart will pound. You may feel a little woozy and lost. That's perfectly normal. Just click the back button on your browser and you will come right back to this friendly little non-threatening totally dead normal web page.
    • If you're feeling bold, go ahead and type something in the text area.
  • Blue links mean that the page has been edited AND SAVED.

Saving pages

  • Saving is a big @#$%*&! deal with computers. They're totally obedient morons (TOMs). They will do what you tell them. They won't read your mind for you. They won't do what you don't tell them. Tell the TOM to save your page and he will. Don't tell him and he won't. What's wrong with that moron? Maybe if you marry him, you can change him. Maybe.
  • If marrying the stupid lunkhead isn't an option, try clicking the "Save Page" button at the very bottom of the screen. Sometimes this button hides away from you where you can't see it. Besides being a moron, the (blessed) system plays hide and go seek. Especially after you've done a preview.

Two dumb scrollbars, two things that scroll

  • The outside scrollbar scrolls the whole screen up and down.
  • The inside scrollbar scrolls only the text area where you are trying to learn how to edit.

Preview the page

  • When you do a preview, the wonderful "Save page" button disappears ===
  • At the top of the page, you see how your article is shaping up.
  • Under the preview is your text entry area.
  • At the very bottom of the page is the all-important "Save page" button.
  • Grab the OUTSIDE scrollbar (or use CTRL-END) and go to the bottom of the page.
  • Press "Save page" to save the page. Whew! All the work you did is now saved!

Summary / minor edit

  • These are optional. They're useful for making more meaningful feedback when browsing recent changes. If you don't use them, the system will fill something in anyway.
  • Some day we may develop wikicops who will harass other editors for not using these options. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Peek at other people's pages

  • Every editor can edit any page on the wiki.
  • You can look at the "source code" for any page by clicking on the "edit" tab at the top.
  • Block, COPY, and paste the stuff you want to steal into your own page that you're editing.
  • Find the bottom of the screen.
  • Click cancel.

Creating new pages

Click on red links

  • You may notice a red link on the outline and say to yourself, "Self, I could start an article on that topic." Go for it! Click on the red link and you will be taken to the edit screen immediately. Write something. Save it. The link in the outline will turn blue and people will know that they can go read something on that topic.
  • Pat yourself on the back. You've added to the wiki! Well done!

Search for an article

  • If you're writing an article, you might say to yourself, "This idea, event, or person should be in the wiki. I'd like to make a wikilink to it." Open a new tab or window for the wiki (so that you can come back to your edit window easily) and do a search for the term that you think should be in the wiki. If there is no entry, there will be a red link at the very top of the search results page that you can click to create the entry. Write something and save it. Now you can go back to your original article and make a link to the new entry that you just created.

Create a link within your article

  • Put the name of the new page into doubled square brackets. So, for example, if you type in the text entry area, [[This article does not exist]], then when you save you article, you will see a red link that reads This article does not exist.
  • Click on the new red link that you just created. You will then be able to edit the page and save it.

Inserting images

  • If you want to insert "somepicture.jpg" into your article, enter [[Image:somepicture.jpg]] into the text of your article.
  • When you save the article, you will see a red link where the picture belongs.
  • Click on the red link.
  • You can upload from your own computer or else give the URL of the picture.
  • Click upload.
  • Return to your article. Refresh your browser (usually F5 or click on the "refresh" symbol). If all went well with the upload and if the filename under which you uploaded the image matches the link in your article, the picture should appear.

Becoming More Sophisticated

Use a text editor to prepare and modify articles

  • The text area is limited and a little hard to maneuver in (blast those scrollbars!). But you can select the whole text, copy it, and paste it into a text editor. I'm using UltraEdit32 to write these lines. I've got the whole screen to myself and I'm not distracted by other stuff. I also know how to do search and replace in my text editor. It's very helpful for rearranging levels of headlines.
  • When you're done editing, select the whole text, copy it, and then paste it back into MediaWiki's text area. Of course, you have to overwrite the text that was there originally, or else you will end up with two copies of the page. You wouldn't make a mistake like that, would you? If you do, you will learn from your mistake and do better next time. It's just Another F[ree] Growth Opportunity (AFGO).
  • I just learned that I mustn't put hard returns into a paragraph when I'm using my text editor. To have the text flow the right way in the wiki, I have to let the text come out as one long line. Live and learn!

Draft in your own space

  • You can create a page from your user or your talk page. It will be saved in your own space.
  • The secret to hiding the page in your own space is to force it to branch off of your User:Name. You do this by creating a link to the uncreated page with /newpagename. So, for example, I wanted to work on some lists of articles that have been translated from the demo wiki to Ameliapedia. I used the following link to create the page:


  • This is how the link looks when it's live: User:Moleski/compare_lists.
  • When you have the article arranged the way you want, you can select all, copy, and paste the new material into a new page or part of an existing article. There is also a "move" tab up at the top of the edit screens. I haven't tried that--yet!

Table of Contents

  • If you have enough headings in a document (stuff enclosed between ==, ===, etc.), then a table of contents will automagically appear on your page.
  • If you wish to have something appear above the table of contents, it must not be marked with the headline tags. Click on the "edit" tab for this article to see how it works. Then, if you would please, find the bottom of the page and cancel the edit (unless, of course, you've found something to fix in the article).

Adapting to wiki culture

Every page belongs to the wiki

  • Once you have saved your page, it is fair game for other people to edit.

Get used to editing other people's pages

  • When you see a typo or higher-level errors in grammar, syntax, punctuation, sentence formation, or paragraphing, go ahead and fix it. Here you should use the "Minor Edit" and "Summary" options so that the original editor won't have to hunt for the changes you've made.
  • Defer to the opinions of the original author. If he or she changes back your changes, leave it be. If it's truly horrible, we can talk about it as a team. We're all in this together and we all have the same goal: to preserve TIGHAR's research and to make it accessible to interested readers.

Get used to people editing your pages

  • The whole point of a wiki is cooperative effort. You should expect other people to improve what you've written. Don't take the changes personally.
  • If your meaning gets lost through someone else's edit, go ahead and change it back.

Use talk / discussion pages to argue about changes

  • Every page has a discussion page.
  • Every editor has a talk page.
  • You'll notice that the "discussion" link is red in this screen capture. By the time you get to this page, it will be blue because I'm about to click on it and edit that page. You might also notice that you can get an overview of earlier editions of a page by clicking on the "history" tab.
  • When we get e-mail working, you can "watch" your pages and get e-mail telling you that there is a new entry on the page you're watching or on one of your talk pages.

Find out what the wiki is thinking

  • Click on the "Recent changes" link in the navigation box to see what's happening on the wiki.
  • Today, the wiki is thinking, "I need more editors. Who does this dude Moleski think he is? Where's everybody else?"

It doesn't have to be perfect to be good

  • Some people say, "The good is the enemy of the best."
  • Others say, "The best is the enemy of the good."
  • Some say, "God is in the details." Others say it's the devil.
  • The wiki saves the history of every save made to a page. When we run out of disk space, we may have to get rid of some early edits. But for now, rest assured that nothing is lost. Your wiki sees all and not one page falls without the wiki noticing.
  • Unlike academic articles, an article in the wiki need not be perfect to get the ball rolling. Every article can be modified; every earlier version can be accessed and restored if need be.

Have fun!

  • This wiki is a labor of love. It's not a job for any of us. I hope you enjoy working on the wiki as much as I do. It's a great tool for us to show what TIGHAR has accomplished. It's not an absolute requirement, but it seems to me that "if you're not having fun, you must be doing something wrong." If there's anything we can do to make this more fun for you, let me know.