What is a WIKI?
Depending on your point of view, and how you use it, a wiki might be one of the most powerful reference and collaboration tools that you will ever encounter. On the other hand, it might just be plain confusing!
The most famous example, of course, is Wikipedia, which from humble beginnings has grown into a massive reference volume, with info on just about everything!
A wiki is simply a collection of web pages. However there is no formal "ownership" of pages. Every page is viewable by all users, just like any "normal" website. But unlike normal websites, every page is also editable by all users! Users can also create new pages as required.
So, if you are looking for info on (eg) Rumny Sprockets, have a search through the wiki. If you find what you're looking for, then the wiki has done it's job.
But what if you get to the "Rumny Sprockets" page, and discover that there's some info there, but you know a bit more - something that's not in the wiki. Share that information! Just click on the "edit" button and add your pearls of wisdom.
But the info I want isn't there...
Of course, there may not be a page on "Rumny Sprockets" yet. So create one, and link it back to the more generic "Sprockets" category. Even if you don't have any real information to add ("This is a placeholder for information on Rumny Sprockets"), someone else may come along later and contribute.
How does this differ from a normal "web forum"?
A web forum is a place for discussion, with text attributed to a specific poster. It's fairly interactive - one user posts a question, or makes a point, then other users follow up. It's a record of a discussion.
A wiki, on the other hand, is more like a reference book. It's a place where you would go to find out information, but not to discuss that information.
What codes can I use on the Wiki?
We've put together a list of codes, here.
Isn't a wiki just anarchy?
The immediate reaction of most people when they encounter the wiki concept - that anyone can edit/create/delete any page, even delete/modify ones they didn't create, is that "someone will spoil it". This does of course happen. You get idiots who take pleasure in destroying other people's work. More worryingly, you also get a different form of idiot, who "likes the sound of their own voice", and will spout knowledgeably on subjects on which they have absolutely no experience.
In general, this is not a huge problem. All changes to a wiki are journalled - you can click on the "history" button at the top of every page, and see who created it, when it was created, and then see all the changes that have been made. So if someone maliciously alters a page, it's easy to back out these changes.
In practice, this doesn't happen too much - wikis do tend to be populated by communities of "sensible people", and peer pressure prevents people doing silly things.
Sounds great, where do I start writing?
If you've never used a wiki before, spend some time looking around before hitting the "edit" button. Try to get a feeling for how the data is organised, and the style/structure that is generally used. There is no compulsion to stick to that established style, of course, but it's a good starting point.
Then pay a visit to the "sandbox" - see the "navigation" panel on the left. The Sandbox is a place to play. A place where you can try out writing wiki pages before you are let loose on the main site.
After that, you might want to pay a visit to Special:Wantedpages. This is a page which lists any pages which have been referenced elsewhere in the wiki, but which haven't yet been created. You may come across examples of these links - they are displayed in red. Do you know anything about these subjects? Click on the red link and tell us. Pass on your knowledge!
Also, have a look at Category:Stubs. These are stub pages - "works in progress" - pages which have been started, but which need more content. If you can contribute, then please do so.
Once you're a bit more confident, then feel free to contribute on new topics.
Share and enjoy!