New User Questions

Hello there, and welcome to WikiWikiWeb. There's a huge amount of stuff here, and the place has been running for long enough that some do's and don'ts have developed. There are pages where all this is documented. Examples include, but are certainly not limited to, WelcomeVisitors and NewUserPages.

This is a place to ask any question. People may answer here or may point you to the answers somewhere else (e.g., the WikiGettingStartedFaq), and will always expect you to do some of your own work, but will try to help you become a member of a community.

The proof: Go to the WikiWikiSandbox so as not to make a mess. Click EditPage at the bottom. Say hi to yourself or a friend, then click SAVE.

Q. Where can I find out how to attach a wiki engine to a web site? Is it possible with Sharepoint wiki? / 31may08,

Q. I've set up my wiki <> on Globat, it looks fine to me so I gave prospective participants the URL. They say they can't logon, and get a request for user name and password. How do I see this and correct it?

A. Good question. It WorksForMe. Make sure you've given your users the correct URL.

Q. How to start a new HomePage.

A. See AddingNewPages.

This was found in the WikiWikiSandbox:

Q: While editing, I miss the cancel button (or link) - am I blind? Best wishes from Luebeck, Germany!

A: A Cancel button would only be needed if it were necessary to tell the server that you are abandoning an edit. But the wiki server doesn't know or care that you're editing a page. This is true for most (but not all) wikis.

Just leave the edit view without clicking the save button. You could use your browsers back button. Or click any of your favorites/bookmarks. There is no cancel button, because you do not need it. Pure XP! :-) btw - You are not blind. - greets from aachen, germany

This does raise the related question of how the wiki prevents one user's changes from overwriting another's. The answer is that when you edit a page, your browser has (embedded in the edit page) a token identifying the page version that you're editing. When you try to save the page, the token is sent to the server along with your changes. If the server determines, based on that token, that the page has changed since you started editing, then you're redirected to a conflict resolution page. You can easily experiment with this by editing a page yourself in two separate browser windows. Also see EditConflictResolution.

Q. How to create a link.

A1. Internal links are just words smushed together to make a CamelCase word.

A2. External links are raw URLs like

Q. Can audio contents be added to a wiki page? I am thinking about setting up a website for the language class I am running and audio materials will be extremely useful for the students. Thank you for your help in advance.

A1: Yes. If your browser is equipped to play a wave file click on:

A2: In fact if you have a web site to post them on, you can use the external link mechanism as used just above to run movies, powerpoints, link to spreadsheets, databases, or any URL your browser can see from your computer
 Spreadsheet ->

Q. I'm really, really new to wiki and I am not a programmer so your answers should assume very little. I'm considering whether wiki is appropriate for a collaborative site with my colleagues for sharing best practices. We need a site for technote-like pages that must include tables, update/download files, display images and have a variety of text formatting options. Should we use a wikiclone and which is the easiest to install? Thank you in advance.

A. What do you mean by "update/download files", and would you want to install the WikiEngine on an existing intranet or where? How easy does it need to be? Does it need to be cheap or free as well? Would you want a simplified syntax for tables or would limited use of HTML be acceptable?

I'm envisioning that users could retrieve files others submit. I'd like to install on an existing intranet. Boss would prefer free but some expense would probably be okay if its easy to see the benefits. Limited use of HTML would be fine for tables. Ease of configuration is of more concern to me than what packages need to be installed.
Q. How do you enter formatting characters, like three single quotes, as regular characters?

A. Separate them with a space, or you may be able to '''do this'''. (The two sets of quotes are on different lines.)

Q. Can I create my own page?

A. Yes, see AddingNewPages. A good first page to create would be a WikiHomePage for yourself.

Q. What does "Wiki" stand for?

A. It stands for Quick in Hawaiian.

Q. I am part of a company and want to run a wiki for my company co-workers and myself. How do I go about it?

A1. Pick a WikiFarm and start a wiki. It takes less than 10 minutes to create a new wiki on any of the free wiki servers these days.

A2. After playing with a free wiki for a few days, if you want to set up your own wiki server, see RunningYourOwnWikiFaq and ChoosingaWiki for starters. (But why would you want to set up your own wiki server ?)

Q. What kind of security can be applied to a wiki page? Can I limit the contributions to certain people?

A. It depends on the WikiEngine that runs the wiki. Some allow you to require that contributors log in before contributing.

Q. What happens if a user is editing a page at the same time another person is editing? Who wins?

A. See EditConflictResolution.

Q. Is there a place to find a list of a particular wiki's plug-ins?

A. Probably on that particular wiki implementation's development site, if it has one. There is no concept of plug-ins for the C2 wiki software, AFAIK.

Q. Is there a page renaming mechanism, other than simply creating a new page and copying the content over to it?

A. No. The only solution is to create a new page, paste the old page's contents into it, and delete the old one. But, one also must then contend with all of the broken BackLinks that the original page linked to and from. It can be rather messy, so the benefit must outweigh the cost.

Q. I fail to see the usefulness of the Wiki in a business environment as a collaboration tool. It seems like too many links make the pages distracting and confuse the user. I am trying this out to learn more because it all seems so unstructured; maybe that's what people see in the Wiki. I dunno... yet. -- EliotScott

A. Wiki is what you do with it; it can be structured (using something like WikiCategories) or unstructured. Many businesses use wikis as corporate intranets with much success.

Q. Is Wiki mainly text-based or is there availability for html tags for images and such?

A1. See TextFormattingRules. Many images can be rendered (but not uploaded). See HalfQwerty for an example of a wiki page with images.

A2. This also depends on the particular wiki implementation. Many engines offer upload features, some support HTML or equivalent markup.

Q. Are there any recommended Wiki pages, for someone interested in understanding the ways wikis can be used?

A. PersonalWikiTestimonials is one, and there are probably others.

Q. What is the philosophy behind Wiki?

A. See WikiDesignPrinciples.

Q. Where can I go if I have code questions? (Forums)

A. Most wiki engines have corresponding wiki communities where your questions will be answered.

Q. (From BriefTutorial) I want to insert lists in my document. How would I accomplish this without inserting tabs? -list -list2

A. See TextFormattingRules and just put an asterisk in front of each item: The method which uses tabs is now deprecated. Just prefix each line with an asterisk.

Q. 2005-05-17. I am quite new on Wikis. My project is to build an "incident case resolver" tool in IT tech support. But before doing it, maybe such a tool has been implemented. Quick specifications: We have a lot of systems installed in the world and consequently, many incidents. Part of these incidents are repetitive. So, we are writing procedures (or cases) describing how to solve a particular incident. I guess building an appropriate wiki could help our support teams. Do you know such a wiki? Maybe Casefaster on SourceForge could be, but they don't give enough data. Thanks a lot. -- Joel.

(sort of) A. There is a wiki-ish program out there called trac (TracWiki) that may suit your purpose. It is "an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system" designed for tracking software development, but you may be able to twist it to do what you want. Perhaps give it a whirl:

Q. We're thinking about starting a wiki from our library as a collaborative current awareness tool. I've used blogs (read and post), but haven't used a wiki yet. I need to find out more about wiki enterprise software, and also to learn more about how wikis are organized because I find them confusing too and need to be able to help other new users get started. -- Leslie

A. AnswerMe

Q. What prevents someone from deleting all the text on a wiki page?

A. Nothing. You can try it if you like, but someone will come along and restore it. The number of potential deleters is far, far outweighed by the number of potential restorers, so the equilibrium is for things not to be deleted. WhyNobodyDeletesWiki.

Q. If you embed images in a wiki by writing out the URL, the image tag that is generated does not include any alt or title text, etc. The alternate text can be useful at times and I just wondered why this is the norm.

A. Do the simplest thing that can possibly work. The current idea is extremely simple, requires no sophisticated knowledge, is difficult to abuse, and is "obvious". Anything more complex requires special syntax and other complications. It's largely the same set of reasons as why embedded HTML isn't used in most wikis.

Q: I'm very new to this World...I'm trying to understand the difference between a Wiki and a discussion board...what I'm seeing here, reminds me of a discussion board. Can someone clarify the difference? Thx

A: In a discussion board what someone contributes can never be changed, even with their agreement. It's the difference between ThreadMode and DocumentMode. Ideally, once some concensus has been reached the "discussion" aspect can be removed and a "document" can remain.

Q: I'm trying to create a web-based research library where I can share development research with a team of about 20 people. The research spans many topics and I would want users to be able to contribute information as they find it. I want to minimize the time that we all spend doing research and centralize all of our findings. This would have to be a private site working within our network and editing access should be limited to the team. What Wiki would be useful for this purpose and how can I get it started?

A: Most wikis could be used. UseModWiki is one possibility. Can you be more specific on the technical side? Are you asking for help in installing it or in getting team members to use it sensibly?
Q: What is the policy regarding name clashes for participants? Someone has already created a WikiHomePage with my name, should I add my details to the same page and share it?

A: Put a note on the page and suggest, or ask for suggestions on, separating somehow. Using middle names is one option. Get a discussion going with them. There is no single, "correct" answer.

Q: What if someone else has the same UserName?

A: See above. You'll probably have to work out another name to use, like JohnReynoldsTheStudent and ScottWaltersTwo did.

Q: Can I download my UserName name cookie to more than one computer?

A: You can use the UserName script on more than one machine, yes.
Q: What is the difference between a wiki and a blog?

A: A weblog (even a community one like SlashDot) is designed to work sequentially - you post content to the blog, and it goes on the front page.... You post another entry, and it goes on the page above that. Eventually your old content will "fall off the bottom of the page" and end up in the archive. Each article is a separate piece of material, and it may be in a listing page that separates things by category and user. Comments are separate entities posted in response to the articles. It's all very sequential and divided.

Wiki does away with all that complexity - a wiki page is just a big editable page. People comment by adding comments within that page. Wiki is the lovechild of weblogs and whiteboards. Articles can be merged together or an article can be split apart - and because editing is easy, anybody can reorganize things to eliminate redundancy. Weblogs are designed for time-critical things like news and discussion, while wikis are designed for containing knowledge.

See also WikiBlogComparison and the pages linked from it.

Hi folks; this is a test. I need to set up a wiki for all the members of a conference planning committee and have some categories already but need to know how to do it. We have the url almost but need some tips on design. Thanks a lot!

Do you have a specific question? Otherwise, participating in a few different wikis is a good way to learn wiki design principles and their tradeoffs [WikiCase links vs. FreeLinks, etc.].
Questions found on some other pages (WantedPages, FrontPage)

Q: How effective are wikis for collaboration compared to other tools e.g blogs?

A: Wiki is a much better tool for collaboration than traditional blogs, forums, irc, and mailing-lists. Those suffer from their traditional chronological orderings, temporal transience (value is lost in noise over time), ownership over writing ("you can't touch this" also means "you can't fix this" and effectively limits derivative works), and, even where edits on prior work are possible, an inability to readily communicate those edits to interested persons. To produce a single, meaningful work requires the ability to usefully edit the primary view in ways other than just 'appending' (though it can be implemented atop an append-only file system with complete history - that is useful, too).

More modern wikis, such as MediaWiki, provide considerably better tools than this original WikiWiki for collaboration, providing such support as a longer and more readily accessible history, a more detailed RecentChanges page, discussion pages, and a better search engine. However, there are other collaboration environments of near equivalence to wikis, though some are domain specific. A few possibly controversial examples are Bugzilla/Subversion, SmalltalkLanguage, some of the more modern collaborative spreadsheet programs, and maybe even SecondLife (give or take the awful interface). IIRC, some people have also worked on wiki-style programming environments, but I'm unaware of any such projects becoming production-ready.

Q: Is there any place I can download a db dump of this site, or would I have to run a crawler over it to get such data?

A: No. See DownloadWiki for why this isn't really possible.

Q: Where can I see reliable, but straightforward, wiki source code?

If you look at the pages which have CategoryWikiImplementation (go to that page and click on the header) you will find wiki implementations, and some of them may have source code available. Or see WikiEngines.
Q: como hago para hacer un nuevo wiki?

This is an English language wiki and I suggest you look for advice in Spanish.

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