Class One

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Welcome. "Wiki" is a Hawaiian word meaning "quick," because it is designed to be quickly and easily changed. Thus, wiki software is a way to run a website so that more than one person can quickly and easily edit the contents. This is most famously done at Wikipedia, "the free encyclopedia anyone can edit," but as you can already see, the wiki format is one of the best ways to assemble information on any subject. If you see a typo, a gap in the story, or even a whole missing subject, you can dive right in and provide that missing or wrong information. Unfortunately, there is a specialized sort of language used on a wiki, and so you do have to learn just a little bit. But I think you will find that after a sharp little curve, it's easy to do most common tasks. In this course, we will bring you up to speed so that you can do the 95% of all the things you might ever want to do on TalossaWiki.

First, we will examine the basics of editing a page and formatting the text. Second, we will look at how to add images to a page. Third, we will go over how a page is organized.


On almost every page on the wiki, you'll see that there are several tabs along the top. Go to this page. You'll see that there are two tabs in the upper-left: "User Page" and "Discussion." "User Page" refers to the actual page you're looking at - the main body of the article. It won't always say "User Page:" sometimes it willl say "Citizen" or more commonly "Main," But in all cases, if you click that link, you go to the article, and you can read about the topic (in this case, the author Vladimir Nabokov).

Every article also has a "Discussion" page. On that Nabokov page, click on "Discussion" now.

Each article's discussion page, more commonly called a "talk page," is for talking about the article's content. Sometimes it's serious talk about the information in the article, and sometimes it's just chit-chat. Here we can see a short conversation between myself and another (nonexistent) user. Later, we'll come back to it. Return to the article itself now, though, by clicking "User Page."

Note:If you're talking about something on a talk page, be sure you end your comment with your "signature." Just put four tildes (~~~~) at the end of your message, and it will automatically put your username and the time down for you.
Note: If you edit a user's personal talk page, the next time they visit the wiki, a big box will let them know they have a message.

Back looking at information about Nabokov? Good. Look on the upper-right, at the other tabs on the page. You should see "Read," "Edit," "View History," and a little drop-down arrow. You'll notice that "Read" is selected - it looks like that little tab is at the front, because that's what you're doing: you're reading the article. But since this is a wiki, you can do more than read! You can edit!

Note: if the article doesn't exist already, then "Edit" will be changed to "Create."

Click "Edit." That tab will open and come to the fore, and you'll see the actual wikitext that produces what you see in "Read." It should look like this:

{{Class}}'''Vladimir Nabokov''' was a Russian-born author. He was most famous for his book ''Lolita.'' He was not a citizen of [[Talossa]]. In his book '''''Ada''''', however, he did write about a bold new world. So he might have like our own [[Talossa|bold experiment]].


Let's go through the formatting of this text, and figure out how it works. Ignore that {{Class}} for now - we'll get to that in the third lesson. Look at the first real sentence.

First of all, you'll see that "Vladimir Nabokov" is surrounded by three apostrophes ('''). This is a bit of wikicode that tells TalossaWiki to render that text in bold. On TalossaWiki, as on most wikis, we generally put the first use of a page's topic in bold. Remember that these have to come in pairs! If you forget to put a second set of three apostrophes ('''Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian-born author) then your entire article will be in bold! The wiki can't read what you write, so it doesn't know to stop bolding things unless you tell it to stop.

The next sentence refers to the book Lolita, and surrounds it with only two apostrophes (''). As you can see on "View", that means that the resulting word is italicized. It works the same as bold, in every other way.

The fourth sentence of this article uses both italics and bold. It does this with five apostrophes ('''''Ada'''''). Normally you wouldn't bold that word, but I did it here just to show you how you can italicize something that is bold.

There are all kinds of other little bits of formatting you might find useful in an article's text, but probably the most important other one is how to make a list. It's very simple: just start a line with an asterisk. *Like this.

  • Like this.
  • And you can add-
  • -as many points to the list as you want!

Numbered lists are just as easy; you just use a hash mark instead of an asterisk. #Like this.

  1. Like this.
  2. And then it keeps counting-
  3. -as you keep adding them!

Easy, right?

Internal links

Let's go back a little bit to that third sentence. You can see that the word "Talossa" is surrounded by two pairs of brackets ([[Talossa]]). This is the very essence of wikiformatting, and probably the most important thing you can learn here now. It's an internal link - it makes those words into a link. [[Talossa]] goes to Talossa. [[Chancery]] goes to Chancery. If the article exists, then the link will be blue. If it doesn't exist, it's a redlink. This will tell the reader that there's no point in clicking on the link, because there's no article there. For example, we don't have an article on Terrance the Terrible Tarantula, so that link is red.

Remember that only exactly that which is in the brackets will become a link. If you want to link to Secretary of State, you can't write [[Secretaries of State]]. And you can't use wikimarkup inside of the link, because [['''Secretary of State''']] links to '''Secretary of State''', not Secretary of State. If you want to make a bold link, or otherwise change the text, put the markup outside of the brackets ('''[[Secretary of State]]''' produces Secretary of State).

There are a couple of ways around this problem of exactness:

  • A bracket that ends partway through a word will appear like a normal link, but it will only go to that which is between the brackets. For example, [[Talossa]]ns doesn't link to the "Talossans" page, it goes to "Talossa," even though the whole word is blue: Talossans. This works for all sorts of words in plural ([[Seneschal]]s) or with demonyms ([[Florencia]]ns).
  • If you want a link to go someplace completely different than the text, you can use a pipe symbol (|) in the link. The words before the pipe will be the actual target of the link, while the words after the pipe will be the displayed text. [[Chancery|hardest workers in the country]] appears like this: hardest workers in the country. This is one of the most useful tricks you can use. A pipe in a link tells the wiki: "This is where the actual link ends. Now here's some other stuff to show."

The other kind of link you might need is an external link. This is a link that goes outside the wiki, to another page on the web. This sort of link is just one pair of brackets surrounding a URL. If you type [], then you get a little linking thing like this:[1]. A better way to do it, though, is to put in some display text. That's also easy to do. Just put a space after the URL, then any other words you put in there will be the display text. For example, [ this is an external link] becomes this is an external link.

So now you know how to italicize and bold things, how to make lists, and how to link to things both on and off the wiki. But that's not all that goes into making an article!


It's always good for an article to have an image - assuming one is available. You can take a look at some of the latest uploaded images on this page. Try looking around and seeing what some of them are. I will wait.

Okay, done? Let's look at one specific image. Go to this link: File:Example.jpg. It's a picture of some flowers! So how do we get that image onto a page on the wiki?

It's very simple. You just type what you see! [[File:Example.jpg]] gives us a full-size image!


That's a simple way to do it, but it's also crude. Fortunately, we can use pipes in this sort of link, too. Let's make the image smaller. We just have to put in a pipe, then add a parameter for size. [[File:Example.jpg|50px]]


Ah, that's better. "Px" is short for "pixels." It made that image appear in a version that's 50 pixels wide. You can use it to make images of any size. Try to make them only as big as you need to, though.


In general, though, the better tag we can use is "thumb." If you add this to the image, it automatically shrinks it, puts a nice border around it, and pops it on over to the right. Most images you add to an article should be thumbed. If we type [[File:Example.jpg|thumb]] then we get that little floating example to the right.

But you can have more than one parameter on an image! All you need is another pipe!


For example, many pages already have a special little box floating on the right, where someone's job or something is placed. So it might not look pretty to have your thumbed image on the right side, too. In that case, we can add the parameter "left" to the link. If we type [[File:Example.jpg|thumb|left]], then we get that same thumbed image, only on the left. And that's not all! There are a lot of different parameters you can learn! For now, though, we'll only learn one more: how to caption an image. You just add another pipe, and then... well, the caption you want!

This is a fancy caption! Wow!

You don't have to put any special code in there, since the wiki will automatically assume that any text it doesn't understand is supposed to be the caption.

Here's an example to the right, produced with this code:[[File:Example.jpg|thumb|This is a fancy caption! Wow!]]

If the wiki doesn't already have the image you want, then you can upload a new image. On the left side of the screen, below the toolbox, is a link to "Upload file." It's pretty simple and self-explanatory and how to do that... click "choose image" and find the file you want to upload from your computer, then upload it! Please be aware of copyright - don't upload a file that isn't free to use or your own work! There is a dropdown box on the page to allow you to choose a copyright for the uploaded image, such as "public domain" or "official image from Talossa." Make sure you pick one!

Now you know the basics of how to put an image in an article! Please remember that articles should not be swamped with images. They're supposed to illustrate, not dominate.


The last thing we'll talk about is how to organize an article so that it reads well, makes sense, and works like every other article. When and how do you use these things we just learned?

By and large, an article should lead with a basic summary. If it's a short article - a single paragraph - then the first sentence should be that basic summary. Article about an organization should start with a one-sentence declarative sentence about the purpose of that organization:

The League of Sock Wranglers is a fictional Talossan organization devoted to the taming of wild socks.

Notice that I bolded the first use of the article's subject, and I've linked an important term. In the same way, an article about a Talossan citizen might start off with their province, or the fact for which they're best known.

Once you get past that lede - that short summary that begins the article - you can go on to write about whatever your subject is. Feel free to write a short article if necessary, or a very long one if you so desire. Any article more than three or four paragraphs, however, needs a bit more organization. Look at this page, for example. I talk about all kinds of things, and I broke them down by subject to make it easier to follow. Also, if you break things down, it allows a reader to skip from the start to exactly the information they want.

To make headings for sections, you use equals signs. The more equals signs you use, the bigger and more important the section heading.

Biggest heading

You make a big heading with just one set of equals signs: =Big heading=

These sorts of headings are only necessary for the very biggest of articles. Otherwise, this huge heading is weird and distracting.

Notice the capitalization scheme: it's not a proper noun or a title, it's just a heading, so only the first word gets capitalized.

You can actually link to specific sections, as well, using a hash sign. For example, the link to this section of the page is Class One#Biggest heading

Medium heading

You make a smaller and more normal heading this way: ==Medium heading==

If you have a section of three or four paragraphs, this is the heading you want to put above it.


This is a subheading, written like so: ===Subheading===

If you are only setting off a short section of an article, one or two paragraphs, this is the heading to use. This is also the heading to use if you only have one heading on a page. Notice how it effectively sets off the information below, without intruding.

Now take a moment to scroll up to the top of the page, and look at the Table of Contents for the page. The ToC is automatically generated by the wiki, so you don't have to worry about it. Just remember the way it works and is organized.

Okay! Great work for this time! See you next lesson!