Wiki Guide

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Contents

What is a wiki?

A wiki is a cooperative Web site - a site where any one can edit any thing on any page. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Thanks to revision control and community spirit wikis are thriving all over the 'net..

So Ann, how does it work?

Contributing to a wiki is simple. First, it is advisable (but not compulsory) to set your user name on the Preferences page. The name you enter will be stored in your browser as a cookie and added (along with your IP address) to the log for any page you edit. Enter your user name as a Wiki Word to prevent ((Your Name)) with a question mark showing up in Recent Changes .

To edit a page, click the Edit this document link near the footer of the page you wish to edit. You will then be able to make any alterations to the page you like. When editing pages, text is added using a special wiki markup language which is simple but powerful - you can learn more about the markup language on the Editing Tips page.

Wiki pages are generally identified by a Wiki Word , consisting of Words Smashed Together. To link to a page, just type its Wiki Word . To create a new page, make up a new Wiki Word and add it to an existing page - when you view the page normally the new Wiki Word will have a question mark next to it to show that the page has not yet been created. Click on the question mark to create it.

To create a new page without linking it to the current page: 1) edit the current page, 2) add a new Wiki Word , 3) Preview, 4) click on the question mark and away you go. Or, you can go to any page and edit the address to "[...]page=! New Page Title".

Don't worry if you make a mistake - all previous versions of wiki pages are saved and can be accessed through the View Document History link at the bottom of the page. This also helps prevent vandalism or other mishaps, as any damage done to a page can be quickly and easily reversed.

That's pretty much all there is to it. Experiment with wiki markup on the Sand Box page, and have fun adding to the wiki.

Some frequently asked questions

Q. Surely letting anyone edit pages without any authorisation mechanism will lead to chaos? A. You would think so, but wikis have several built in mechanisms to prevent this from becoming a problem. Firstly, any vandalised pages will only stay vandalised until the next well meaning visitor comes along and fixes them. Secondly, wiki regulars can use the Recent Changes page to keep an eye on things, checking out pages that have been edited recently and making sure they have not been damaged. Thanks to the Recent Changes RSS Feed it is possible to keep an eye on the wiki through a news aggregator without even visiting the site.

Q. Won't the navigation end up a horrible mess as people add new pages completely at random? A. In a well maintained wiki with an active community this should not become a problem. Wikis are an ideal medium for refactoring - a few minutes work and some heavy cutting and pasting is all it takes to turn a messy wiki in to a nice well-ordered one. Once information is in a wiki it is trivial to reorganise it or add links to it to other relevant wiki pages.

Further Reading

Wikis were invented by Ward Cunningham, who created and maintains the first wiki at http://c2.com/cgi/wiki.

This wiki is powered by the Tavi Wiki engine, which can be found at http://tavi.sourceforge.net/. An extensive list of wiki engines (the software that runs a wiki) can be found here: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki? Wiki Engines .

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