Wiki Training

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This is an outline for a brief one-hour staff wiki training. There is plenty of room for flexibility in this plan, so make sure to adjust what you are teaching to make it appropriate for the new staff member's job description.


  • What the Wiki is for: collaborative work, documenting processes, systems, policies, etc.
  • How you should use it as a resource for your job
  • What/when you should document on the wiki


  • Searching: There are two main ways to search:
    • The main search bar (on the left side bar) is best when you know the exact wording of the page you are looking for (and capitalization after the first letter of the first word counts)
    • The link to Google Search--> Search our Wiki (on left side bar) is a great option when you don't know exactly what you are looking for--it is much more forgiving and will look for key words throughout the page.
  • Categories: Related pages are grouped together in Categories. For example, the "HR Category" includes links to pages that are relevant to Human Resources. Look through categories (there is a link on the main page, upper right) when you are trying to gather lots of information about a particular subject.
  • Recent Changes (link on left side bar) shows you all the pages that were recently updated and by whom.
  • Random page (link on left side bar) is a fun way to see a random assortment of our >2,000 pages.

Gleaning Information from Wiki Pages

While the wiki is full of useful resources, it can also be fraught with peril because of outdated, incorrect information. It is important to read wiki pages critically and take information with a grain of salt. Much of what is preserved on the wiki is there because it documents our history and should be read with that in mind. Some helpful tips:

  • Click on the "history" link at the top of a page. This will show a log of who has edited that page and when. If it hasn't been updated in years, chances are it is a bit of history and not a current procedure/policy.
  • Sometimes you can learn more by clicking on the "discussion" link at the top of a page. This will show you discussions by contributors about that page.
  • Remember to check out pages linked to within a page; one of the key characteristics of wikis is that there are lots of internal links to promote more comprehensive information-gathering. Also check out similar pages within a page's category (links to a page's category are at the bottom of that page).

Basic Editing

To teach basic editing, I usually have trainees go to their user page (e.g. User:Scrump) and practice different editing tricks on that page. You can also have people practice in the Sandbox. Whichever you choose, it's best to have trainees practicing each skill as you teach it.

Creating a page

Sometimes, you need to create an entirely new page to document some new process, procedure, policy, event, etc. The easiest way to do that is to make a link from some relevant page (in this case, practice from your User page) and then click on it. To make an internal link (i.e., a link to another page within the wiki), type the name of the page with two brackets on either side.
For example, to write, "This is my example link." type,
This is my [[example link]].

If you are creating a new, unique page, the link will appear red until you have added some content. Click on the link and add some content! Now the link will be blue/purple.

When naming a new page, make sure you choose a name that is specific and descriptive so that it is easily searched.

It is also wise to categorize a page so that it can be found among other similar pages. To add a page, for example, to the "Training" category, you would type
at the bottom of that page. The link to the category will appear at the bottom of the page, and the page will automatically appear in the category.


Creating headers divides a page into logical sections and sub-sections. We use equals signs (=) to denote that something is a header. I'm not showing examples of the headers here, because they will screw up this page's Table of Contents, but try this out on your practice page.

To create a first-order header, type:
To create a second-order header, type
==Less Big==
To create a third-order header, type
===Kind of Small===

See the pattern? As soon as you have more than three sections, a Table of Contents is automatically generated--pretty nifty.


Lists are a nice way to organize things. Create a bulleted list like this:

  • Popcorn
  • Ice cream
  • Cupcakes

by typing:

*Ice cream

Add a sub-list like this:

  • Ice cream
    • Chocolate
    • Strawberry
    • Rocky Road

by typing:

*Ice cream
**Rocky Road

You can create a numbered list:

  1. Hop
  2. Skip
  3. Jump

by typing:


You get the idea. Make some lists of some things on your User page!

Character formatting

Embolden your text by typing
Italicize your words by typing
Cross out deleted material by typing
<s>deleted material</s>
Underline added or important words by typing
<u>important words</u>


We've already created one internal link above. Let's see how we can create a link to the same target but with different words appearing.

For example, I want to link to User:Scrump but have it appear as the coolest page around. To do this, type
[[User:Scrump|the coolest page around]]
You can also add letters on to the words in the page title. For example, the link to Volunteer Appreciation BBQ could appear Volunteer Appreciation BBQs by typing
[[Volunteer Appreciation BBQ]]s
Sometimes you want to link to a particular section of a page, like Receiving documents portion of Dead Trees. To do this, type
[[Dead Trees#Receiving|Receiving documents]]

Let's create an external link. We try not to do this too often, but sometimes it is important.

To link to a website like the Free Geek website, use single brackets and type the URL followed by the words you'd like to appear, like this:
[ Free Geek website]

More Formatting

To use more advanced formatting methods, such as using a table like this, I recommend finding a page with that particular formatting and checking out the source (hit "edit" if you are logged in or "view source" if you are not). Copy and paste the formatting into your page and change the content to suit your needs! If you want to do some practice runs of more advanced formatting, you can try it out in the Sandbox or on the "discussion" section of a page (link at the top of each page).

Also, check out Help:Editing for lots of great editing tips.


Templates are elements created on special Template pages that you can include in the body of a regular page. If the template is edited, it will automatically change across all of its instances. The syntax for templates is the name contained within squiggly brackets. For example, typing
{{FreekBox Specs}}
gives you a nice box with all of the current FreekBox specifications, which automatically changes as we adjust the specs. Other handy templates, which aren't often edited but are just nice-looking tags, are
which is generally placed at the top of a page to indicate that that page is a work-in-progress, and
which is generally placed at the top of a page to indicate that that page should probably be removed.

Find more templates for all sorts of things!

Uploading and Editing Files

To upload a new, unique file, click on the "upload file" link under "toolbox" on the left side panel. Preferred file types are pdf, odt, odg, ods, gnumeric, glabels, png, svg, jpg. Once you have uploaded a file, you can link to it by typing
 [[Media:Filename.pdf|Words you want to appear]] 

Many documents that are frequently printed are found on Dead Trees. If you upload a new file, consider putting it in Dead Trees somewhere (but help maintain the alphabetical section order, please!).

If you would like to update an existing file, which often needs to be done to documents found on Dead Trees, do not create a new document and upload it under a new name. This leads to too many similar files under slightly different names, and different links lead to different versions. Instead, follow this procedure:

  1. Download the current version from the wiki
  2. It will be a read-only file, so you will need to Save As to a different location (but keep the file name the same) so that you can reopen it in an editable form.
  3. Make the changes you need to make and Save.
  4. Open the File page for that document on the wiki. (For example, for the document called "Other recyclers.odt", type "File:Other recyclers.odt" into the search bar on the left side panel.) Here you will see a log of previous versions of that document.
  5. Click on "Upload a new version of this file" below the file history.
  6. Browse for and select your revised document.
  7. Summarize the changes you made in the "File changes" box.
  8. Upload the file! Now all the places that linked to this document should automatically link to the newer version. You may need to reload pages and even clear recent browsing history before the change will take place.

Other Useful Resources