Introduction To MediaWiki

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Contents

  1. Objectives
  2. Motivation
  3. Priming questions
  4. Notes
    1. Introduction
    2. Why Wiki?
    3. Creating an Account
    4. Editing your page
    5. Uploading an image
    6. Viewing Changes
  5. Questions
    1. Create an Account
    2. Upload an Image
    3. Write Some Text
    4. Wiki versus

1. Objectives

  • To introduce the concept of a wiki
  • To introduce a popular wiki platform, Image:poweredby_mediawiki_88x31.png

2. Motivation

One of the requirements for a course that satisfies the COS IT requirement is:

4. Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate, create, and collaborate effectively using state-of-the-art information technologies in multiple modalities.

To me, item 4. means that you will need to do much more than be able to communicate using email + MS Word/PPT/Excel attachments. There is a right tool for each job. During this course I will emphasize this in many places.

  • In summary, there is a right tool for each problem. Email + Document attachments cannot solve all problems.
  • Said another way, there are many modalities for communicating, creating, and collaborating beyond Email + Document attachments.

3. Priming questions

  • What is HTML?
  • Have you ever used a wiki?
  • Have you ever made an edit to Wikipedia?

4. Notes

4.1. Introduction

  • "A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor." [1]
  • MediaWiki is one of many Wiki programs (it is the one used by Wikipedia)
  • A Wiki is a program that saves you from a number of hassles when creating a web page
  • Modifying a web page usually involves
    1. Download a file from a (password protected) web server
    2. Edit HTML or create an HTML page using a program
    3. Upload the file to a (password protected) web server
    4. Repeat this process every time you create a page or modify a page
  • Modifying a page on a wiki involves
    1. Click edit
    2. Change text
    3. Click save
  • Creating a page on a wiki involves
    1. Edit a page and enter a reference to a page (you won't need to do this in this class)
    2. Type in text using Wiki mark-up syntax
    3. Click Save

4.2. Why Wiki?

Why use a Wiki for collaboration?

  • Ease of collaboration
    • Anyone can edit a page
    • It is easy to see how pages were changed over time use the "history" link on the top of the page (compare this to with MS Word's track changes for non-trivial-sized changes)
  • Ease of creation
    • On many Wikis, anyone may make an edit

Why would you want to use a Wiki versus

  • Google Docs,
  • Microsoft Word, or
  • Notepad?

When would you not want to use a Wiki?

  • When privacy is important
  • When only one user is creating a simple page

4.3. Creating an Account

  • In future homeworks and projects you will be required to post information on this wiki. To prepare, please create an account by clicking on the Log in/create account link in upper-right-hand-side of the page and then follow the instructions. Important: The passcode is CDS130.
  • Make sure that it says http://cds130.org/ in the browser's address bar. If it is http://en.wikipedia.org/, you will be creating an account on their wiki and not this course's wiki.
  • For privacy reasons, you are not required to have a username that has any part of your real name in it! (Choose something that will be unique and easy to remember and type.) You do not need to enter an email address either.

4.4. Editing your page

  • Click on the red link on the top of the page that has your username
  • Click edit
  • Type stuff in the edit box
  • Click save

4.5. Uploading an image

  • Click on the red link on the top of the page that has your username. (The red link may now be blue if you have already edited the page.)
  • Click edit.
  • Type
    [[Image:UserName-ImageDescription.jpg|thumb|485px]]
    where UserName is the name you use to log in (e.g., Weigel), and ImageDescription is a word or two that describes the image (e.g., DogsSleeping). The |thumb|485px will make the image shown in the page 485 pixels wide instead of the full size of the original image.
  • Click save.
  • Click the red link (why is it red?) that says
    Image:UserName-ImageDescription.jpg
  • Upload an image
  • Click on the link on the top of the page that has your username. You should see your image now.

4.6. Viewing Changes

  • Click the history link on the top of the page.

5. Questions

5.1. Create an Account

Create an account. Choose a username that is different from your Mason username (the name in your email address). Zero points if the username is "inappropriate".

5.2. Upload an Image

Upload a screenshot to your page. Zero points if the image is NSFW (not safe for work). See User:Weigel for an example.

5.3. Write Some Text

  • MediaWiki uses a simple mark-up language for text. [2]
  • Unlike a word processor where you use a GUI, you do formatting using text (similar to HTML, but simpler).
  • For example, to make a word bold, you type this sentence fragment will be bold.
  • You can still use HTML notation, for example this sentence fragment is also bold.
  • In contrast, in a word processor you would highlight the text and click the bold button.
  • To figure out how to do something, I usually look at a page with an example of what I want to do and click "View Source" or "Edit".


  1. Edit your page and create a section called Homework 1. (You create a section by typing = Homework 1 =.)
  2. Put the image that you uploaded in this section. If this is not your image, you must include a link to where it is from.
  3. Write a few sentences describing something funny on the web. Use bold and italics in your sentence. Include a link to the object. Here is my solution: User:Weigel. Zero points if the image or description is NSFW.

5.4. Wiki versus

Why would you want to use a Wiki versus

  • Google Docs,
  • Microsoft Word, or
  • Notepad?

For each, give a scenario where and reason why you would and would not want to use each of these programs.

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