Wiki getting started

Revision as of 16:19, 25 January 2008 by Mchua (talk | contribs) (Learning to use the wiki)
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What is this wiki?

(Adapted from Wikipedia:) This OLPC website is a wiki. A wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily - in this case, information and projects surrounding the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites like the one you see here.

The OLPC wiki is completely open; generally speaking, anyone can edit any page if they think they can improve it in some way. Wikis are generally designed with the philosophy of making it easy to correct mistakes rather than making it difficult to make them. A handful of active, experienced wiki editors act as wiki administrators reverting and blocking vandalism while also helping new users get started.

Learning to use the wiki

Jumping in

Ordinarily, the structure and formatting of wiki pages are specified with a simplified markup language, sometimes known as "wikitext". To see the wikitext of a page, click on the edit tab at the top. You can jump right in by typing your changes straight into the page and then clicking the save button at the bottom. (You could hypothetically try it now on this page, but it's probably best to try first-time edits in the Sandbox.)

Wiki pages are usually reserved for more public-facing, settled-down information. For meta-discussions about the content of the pages themselves, we have discussions on attached wikipages called talk pages (also known as "discussion pages"). These are available by clicking the discussion' tab at the top of a page (next to the "edit" tab). (You can try it now on this page.) Some wikipages don't have a discussion page yet, but if you have something to say about a page, feel free to be the first to comment in a discussion page and start the conversation.

In notes, chats, and emails, OLPC community members often use a shorthand when referring to wiki pagenames and titles. (For instance, the name/title of this page is "Wiki getting started.") [[Page name]] translates to

Finally, community members will often watch pages they're interested on, which means they want to be notified whenever that page is updated without having to go back and manually check it every day themselves. The tutorial linked below covers this and other topics in more detail. In order to do this, you'll have to create an account, which we'd love for you to do in any case - it helps us figure out who's writing what on the wiki so we can give the proper attribution to you for all your help.

A more structured path

Some people like learning how to use wikis in a more structured manner. If you're looking for resources, we recommend you start by:

  1. Creating an account
  2. Reading through the Wikieducator tutorial and working through as many of the exercises as you like. Wikieducator uses the same software we do, and they maintain an excellent tutorial on how to get started editing.

It usually takes people about 30 minutes to get comfortable using the wiki. Of course, you can do things in any order - you can even practice editing without creating an account first, if you'd like.

Once you do create an account, check your preferences and be sure you verify your email address and turn on email notification if you'd like it -- you can find out when your talk page, or any page on your watchlist, is modified. You may want to upload a photo or information about yourself to your userpage (see Lauren's, Mel's, and Xavi's pages for some examples).

Getting help

Wiki mentors

There are a number of active volunteers who are always willing to help new users get started. No question is too small; we're here to help point people in the right direction. Contact information should be on their userpages; just click on a name to get started.

Live chat

The #olpc-content channel on is usually a good place to find people and ask questions about using the wiki. Instructions on using IRC can be found here, or just visit the web chat on and type the words "/join #olpc-content" (no quotes) once you sign in.