Wiki Writing Workshop

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Wiki Wiki Web

The first wiki was create in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, and it was called Wiki Wiki Web (Wiki in Hawaii means quick!).

Interview with Ward Cunningham

Wikis are about speed and easiness of writing and publishing on the Web.

Also about collaboration. According to Ward Cunningham ‘People discovered that they can create something with other people, that they don't even know. But they come to trust and they make something that surprises them in terms of its value’.

For a more detailed page on Wikis, its historical historical perspective and some of its many possibilities see the Wiki page.

This page is more how-to guide.

As it is a wiki, feel free to edit it.

Account creation

In order to start contributing to the GDA wiki, like in most wikis, you need to create a user account. Do so by clicking on Create Account, in the top right corner or the wiki,

You'll be taken to a page where you will be asked your account details, a question (of which you should know the answer) to see whether or not you are not a robot.

User Pages

  • Pages that belong to users. Can be recognized because they have the 'User:' selector in the URL:
  • user pages, subpages of user pages and the content of user pages are not findable through the search bar, therefor ideal for personal notes etc (they are still public however!)
  • other than that they are the same as the other pages


Two kinds

  • Internal (to other wiki pages)
  • External


This sentence contains a link to [[another page]].

You can customize the displayed text (label) by using a "pipe": At first [[Mediawiki | the software]] used in wikipedia was written in [[PERL]].


  • Use single square brackets
  • No pipe, just a space to specify a label, see Wikipedia
  • If no label is given, the link appears in "footnote" style [1]
  • Raw URLs (that start with http://) will be made automatically clickable (


View in edit mode to see the subtleties:



Here are all of you


A unique aspect of the wiki is linking to pages that do not (yet) exist. These are called "redlinks" (typically they appear in red to differentiate from "blue" normal links). In this way editors can write with links without knowing (or caring) if a given page exists. Redlinks can form a "potential page" or "todo" articles that when created in the future, will already be linked. Non-existent (redlink) Pages do display backlinks even before they are given any content (though they will not appear in Special:AllPages, they can be seen via Special:WantedPages)


How to make new pages

In a wiki the information is organized into pages or articles ( no great distinction between the two). If you want to say something about something for which there isn't a page, you create that page and start writing its content.

To create a page create internal links [[name of new page]] for that page

The other easy way to create is to use the search function with the name of the page you want to create. When searching, you are given the possibility to create that page.

  • Red link = previously non-existing page.
  • Blue link = existing page.

So pages are made by:

  • clicking red links
  • making red links and clicking them
  • searching for a non-existent page (will give you a redlink which you can click)

How to edit a page

Writing on a wiki is not not very different from writing a blog.

You have a Read and Edit mode.

Edit lets you enter content and make changes to existing content.

While you are editing, you can preview your changes in the Preview window.

Once done editing save the page, otherwise your contribution will be lost.


  • click 'edit' on the top right of the page you want to edit
  • will show you the wiki markup of the page
  • show preview is useful to see what the effect of your changes is (use it a lot!)
  • but your changes will only be saved when.. you press save page
  • use the summary to comment on your edit, mostly used when collaboratively editing a page. Will show up in the edit history.

Going back in time

One difference with most blogs is that you also have a History mode. A defining feature of wikis is that everything is saved. You can see all the revisions of each page and go back in time.

  • for each page one can view the history of edits and deletions (View History tab in the top right)
  • nice if you made a mistake
  • on wikipedia the edit history of an article is often more interesting than the article itself
    • because they are testament to the edit wars between people who have different opinions on the subject or reflecting the changes in events.

Text formating

Although there is a specific syntax to format the text, you can use the menu to do much of the formating you need. In case you are interested to get to know the syntax here is cheat-sheet with the most important syntax.

You can experiment with writing and formating your own User page. You can get go to this page by clicking in your username, next to the little person drawing. The user page, is normally used to say something about you, but can also be a nice testing ground.

Attention: to create line breaks you need to leave at least one empty space between one line of text and the next.

Title Headings

You can make titles with different hierarchic levels by using "=" as follows:

=Main Title=

==Sub Title==

===Sub-sub Title===

===Sub-sub-sub Title===

You can place content under each of these section and the page will automaticall make an index for you

Text can be bold, italic or whatever you imagine with HTML STYLING

Syntax Highlighting

Very useful for sharing snippets of code as it makes the code legible and provides you with line numbers that you can reference.

1     python -c 'exec """\nimport time\nwhile True:\n for i in range(127761,127768):\n  print unichr(i)\n  time.sleep(0.05)\n"""'
<syntaxhighlight lang="python" line='line'>
   while True:


Check all the supported languages here

Special Pages


How do images work

  • images are in essence 'special' pages.
  • Can be recognized because they have the 'File:' selector in the URL:
  • upload via the upload file option on the left menu (Special:Upload )
  • supported filetypes: png, gif, jpg, jpeg, svg, zip, gz, txt, pdf, ogg, ogv, mid, oga (not only images!)
  • Rainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gif gifs! Rainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gifRainbowbg.gif
  • can be embedded by simply making an internal link: [[File:Tim_scooter_small.jpg]]
  • always try to credit the original author or source of the image.
  • Images have many options for embedding and styling. For more info and examples have a look at: this

A little history

borrowed from Michael Murtaugh and the PZI wiki

Software with an attitude

You're browsing a database with a program called Wiki Wiki Web. And the program has an attitude. The program wants everyone to be an author. So, the program slants in favor of authors at some inconvenience to readers.

Posted on the original "wiki", the Portand Pattern Repository; sadly the original seems to no longer be online

Which Wiki Was Which

"WikiWikiWeb" for a while referred to four things: the website hosted on, the software used to run it (written in Perl), and later any user-editable website (what is now known as a wiki), and any application used to run such a site (now known as wiki software). There was no greate distinction for the first five years or so between the code used to run a wiki and the content on it, partly becuase there was nearly a 1:1 correspondence between the two: many of the original wiki administrators were programmers, and they tended to create their own new, or modified, version of the software to run their own wikis. <ref name="Working with Mediawiki">Yaron Koren, Working with Mediawiki, p. 2 website</ref>


  • 2000 Jimmy Wales creates Nupedia, a failed attempt to create a free online encyclopedia
  • Wales hires Larry Sanger to edit
  • launched January 15, 2001
  • 2001: first subdomains for non-english (
  • August 2002 all content tranferred to
  • Wales and Sanger fall out


Mediawiki is the software that runs Wikipedia, and the Digital Media wikis

UseModWiki, like most wiki software at the time, was the work of tinkerers: it was based on AtisWiki, which was based on CvWiki, which in turn was based on WikiWikiWeb, Cunningham's original application. And again, like most wiki software of the time, UseModWiki used flat text files to store all page revisions. ... In late 2001 Wales hired Magnus Manske, a German programmer and active Nupedia contributor, to rewrite the software in PHP, now storing edits in a MySQL database. <ref>Koren, p. 3