Wiki Quick Start
A Quick Introduction to Wikidom
This site is a Wiki Wiki web site, which is Hawaiian for "quick quick" web site. That means it's an engine that makes it easier to enter the contents you want on a page, and easier to create new pages -- even if you don't know what to put on them yet.
The admins chose a Wiki because they (Wiki's, not the Admins :-) ) are really handy for collaborative documentation; it's easier for random people to contribute useful information, and random editors to edit it.
Since it keeps a history of pages, it's so easy to fix graffiti that it's almost not worth trashing stuff. (Hint.)
The only two things that some people have trouble with about Wikis are that the markup syntax (which is not HTML on purpose) can occasionally be Somewhat Obscure, and that the internal links are created using [[square brackets]].
Since we've moved to MediaWiki from MoinMoin, StudlyCapped words are 'no longer automatically made into links, which we know will make some people much happier. :-)
And, lastly before we tell you how to edit, let us encourage you to create an account if you're going to be doing any appreciable amount of editing or contribution; it makes your life (and ours ;-) ) much easier. Click the Create an account link and fill out the form. It's easy! :-)
Wiki writing Syntax
Anyway, the one 'graf explanation of WikiWriting is:
- Just write. Empty lines force paragraph breaks,
<br>forces a mid-line break (and indeed, most HTML works), and you can do all the stuff you'd do in HTML markup, but with slightly different (read: easier) syntax. [[Words or phrases]] in square brackets automatically become intra-Wiki links -- if the page doesn't exist yet, readers will see its link displayed in red instead of blue, and you can either write the new page yourself, by clicking through to it after you save, or you can just leave it as a hint for others to follow. If you *do* preview the page, don't forget to *save it* before clicking through to create subsidiary pages.
Finally, please fill in the 'Summary' with a half-sentence description of what you changed. The summaries are displayed in the Recent Changes page listing, and make it a lot easier to figure out what's going on and why. Think of them as CVS comments.
It's really pretty much that simple. Once you find something you want to do (like offsite links or inline images) that isn't explained here, you can go check out Help:Contents.
And, finally, remember: anyone can come along and edit what you write... and that's the *point*. So it's important to keep this frame of mind when you're writing. If you hate editors, writing for a Wiki will probably drive you batty.
How to work with this wiki
This topic is actually a little in flux, as you might expect, since we're pretty new here at working with and leveraging the special features that Mediawiki provides (which are slightly different than the special features which the old MoinMoin wiki provided).
Keep an eye on the Discussion pages for the pages you work on; use your Watchlist (and set the "automatically add pages I edit to my Watchlist" setting in your preferences; and keep an eye on the Community Portal; as we figure out the best way to do things, that's where will put the meta-Q&A.
In general, when you're starting to think about graduating from small changes to large ones (and creating entire new pages or categories): read before you write. It's even easier to steal formatting and layout on a wiki than it is in traditional HTML, so look for pages that are well layed out, and copy them, replacing their text with your own. Look at active talk pages for examples of how to thread conversations in MW's admittedly slightly weak Talk: system (it's nice because it keeps conversations near what they talk about, at the expense of making you work a tiny bit harder).
Oh, and make sure to sign things you post on talk pages with --~~~~, so everyone can follow the conversations.
Finally, keep an eye on Special:Recentchanges -- it's a good bookmark page if you want to keep an eye on the wiki from either side -- and if you change things, please write a summary to keep Recent Changes useful.
So Be Bold, but be kind...
And have fun; that's most of the point. :-)