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Tips on Getting Started

Step 1: Create an Account

Everyone needs to set this up, as pages will be "protected" from non-registered users. Everyone has been sent an email invitation to become a registered user of the site. Click the link on the email to log in and reset your password to something you will remember.

Step 2: Customize "My Preferences"

Get familiar with this feature by selecting it from the main navigation bar. Most selections will only be active on your page (the site preferences are controlled by the administrator).

Step 3: Write a Bio & Upload a Picture

For each registered user, the site automatically generates an empty user page, which needs to be filled with content. In order to customize your page, click on your username in the main navigation bar and click the "edit" tab.

Write a bio

  • When you are in the editing mode of any page, you will see that there is a very basic toolbar above the edit window that will help you format your text. You will probably find, however, that you want more formatting options than the toolbar provides. MediaWiki uses a simplified version of html coding called "Wikitext," which you will have to learn in order to do more than bold or italicize text. For basic formatting instructions, go to Help:Formatting or see more formatting links at the bottom of this page. For those who are familiar with HTML coding, go to Help:HTML in Wikitext to see which HTML elements are permitted.

Upload a photo to the wiki

  • In the sidebar, under toolbox, click "Upload file". Note: In some skins, you will not see this link. If that is the case, find the link for "Special pages" and select the "Upload File" page.
  • Next to the Source filename, click "Browse" to locate the file on your computer.
  • Change the "Destination filename" to something descriptive (multiple people are uploading pictures to this site, so don't use generic names like "Picture2.jpg." This filename is what you will use as the "filename" in the code below).
  • Fill in the "Summary," if necessary.
  • Click "Upload file."
  • Go to the page you want your image to appear, click the “edit” tab and type the following code to embed your image:
   [[Image:filename.jpg]]        (where "filename.jpg" = the name of your photo, or Destination filename)
  • If you add a pipe (|) and some text after the filename, the text will be used as alternative text for text-only browsers, and will also appear when you mouse over the image:
   [[Image:filename.jpg|alternative text]]
  • If you want to create a link to the image description page without displaying the image per se, add a colon in front of "Image":
  • To bypass the image description page and link directly to an image, use the "Media" pseudo-namespace:
  • When creating a link to an image, you can designate how you want the link to appear by typing the link text after a pipe:
   [[:Image:filename.jpg|link text]]
   [[Media:filename.jpg|link text]]
  • NOTE: the filename of the image is case-sensitive, so it must be exact. So, if you name your image Jenny.jpg, but try to embed your image as jenny.jpg, it will not work.
  • More information on formatting images can be found here: Help:Images

Step 4: Create your "My Talk" page

The "my talk" page is automatically generated for each registered user. Click on "my talk" in the top navigation, and start adding content! This feature resembles the functionality of a blog, but can also be used by your fellow students to post general questions/comments. See Help:Talk Page for more information.

How do I...

Find a page?

The difference between "go" and "search":

  • Using the "go" button will take you directly to the term that you searched, provided that you have entered the exact text of an article that exists.
  • The "search" button does a search of the site to match your search terms with keywords from each article.

Edit a page?

Use the "edit" button, which can be found in several places, including the tabs at the top of the page (but you must be logged in).
It is a good idea to preview your changes before you save; but don't forget to save!

Create a page?

The simplest way to create a new page is to type the name of the page in the Search bar (top of page) and then hit "Go". It will tell you that there is no such page, and will say (in red), "You can create this page." Click on that red link, then type your page content! It's that easy. Once you've created your page and made any edits, make sure you click the "Save page" button at the bottom. Of course, you or someone else can edit it later as needed. If you know the page already exists, but it says it doesn't, then check your spelling and formatting. For example, this page is titled "Help" but the url is "Help:Contents".

  • Make it pretty! Once you add your content to a page, you will want to format the text and layout. For help with basic text formatting, go to Help:Formatting. Another place to find help with general formatting is WikiText Examples. For help with formatting the layout of your images, go to Help:Images.

Create a link?

There are two main kinds of links: an external link and an interwiki link. An external link is one that exists outside the wiki. An interwiki link is (you guessed it) one that exists within the same wiki.

To create an interwiki link

  • Type the name of the page between double brackets (you can also use the Internal Link button on the toolbar):
   [[Page name]]
  • If the name of the page differs from how you want the link to appear, insert a pipe (|) after the page name, and follow the pipe with how you would like the link to appear:
   [[Page name|link text]]

To create an external link

  • To create a link that displays the url, simply write the url:
   will give you:
  • To create a link that displays something other than the url, follow the url with a single space, then type the link as you would like it to appear, for instance:
   [ Google Groups]
   will give you:
   Google Groups
  • To create a link that displays a number, enclose the url between single brackets, for instance:
   will give you:
  • Go to Help:Link for more information on hyperlinking.

Embed a YouTube video?

To the right of any YouTube video, you will see two pieces of coding, one called "URL" and one called "Embed." Copy the embed code and paste it in between html tags -- <html>...</html> -- so that this:

<html><object width="320" height="265"><param name="movie" value="
Uri4lE2RVdM&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name=
"allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="
1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="320" 

becomes this:

Embed a Google Map?

If you click on the "Link" button on any Google Map, you will see two pieces of coding (similar to YouTube), one with a link and one with HTML code. Copy the HTML code and paste it between html tags -- <html>...</html> -- so that this:

<html><iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" 
ll=40.691983,-73.968562&spn=0.006882,0.01502&z=16&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href=
40.691983,-73.968562&spn=0.006882,0.01502&z=16&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">
View Larger Map</a></small></html>

becomes this:

View Larger Map

Note that when you click on the "Link" button on a Google Map, you have the option of customizing the size of the embedded map.

Helpful Links

Examples of other wikis

Columbia University's Social Justice wiki
Wikipedia (of course)
Prof. Napoli's Spring 2008 wiki
Prof. Napoli's Spring 2009 ePort
Prof. Krase's Seminar 2 wiki
Seminar 2 Website Archive

I need more help!

General MediaWiki Help
Help:Contents: an overview of help topics
Manual:FAQ: frequently asked questions about MediaWiki
MediaWiki Handbook: a list of guides and single-topic help files

Wikitext coding
Help:HTML in Wikitext: HTML v. Wikitext
Help:Wikitext_examples: formatting text in Wikitext
Help:Formatting: formatting text in Wikitext
Help:Tables: how to insert a table

Get Creative!
Jenny K.'s Favorite Apps: Jenny Kijowski's list of apps you can use to enhance your project
The 67th Street Project: A longer list of apps from MHC's Spring 2010 Tech Fair