teaching - learning - discussing - creating - thinking

Learning and thinking

Wikiversity seeks to engage participants in explorations of those topics that they are most interested in. Wikiversity seeks to collect and organize information and make it accessible to learners, but Wikiversity is not just concerned with a collection of facts. Each domain of human knowledge and each collection of facts can be explored by making use of various organizational strategies and patterns of thinking. Wikiversity seeks to make explicit and learnable the patterns of thought that that experts find useful in the study of different subjects. Wikiversity is not about tests and grades. So how is anyone to judge if learning is taking place, if learners are thinking at Wikiversity?

Wiki 101

Wikiversity is devoted to the idea that Wikiversity participants should be active learners. In a wiki, a major activity is editing wiki pages. The wiki editing interface can be a source of confusion for new users. "Wiki 101" is a Wikiversity project devoted to the task of providing new Wikiversity editors with everything they need to start editing Wikiversity pages.

It is through the editing of wiki pages that we can, as a learning community, judge if learning is taking place within Wikiversity. Did something you saw at Wikiversity make you think? If so, share your thoughts and experiences by being a wiki editor.


  • Introduction to Wiki - this project aims to function as a service project for the Wikiversity community and provide learning resources that will aid new Wikiversity editors.
  • Wikiversity:Guided tour - Take this tour to get an overview of how Wikiversity works.

MediaWiki Handbook

The definitive guide to editing pages at Wikiversity or any of the Wikimedia projects is the MediaWiki Handbook. MediaWiki is the software that runs Wikiversity servers. You can open the handbook in a separate browser window or tab keeping it handy while editing away at Wikiversity.


Namespaces are ways to keep large sections of content organized. The following are some that Wikiversity editors should become familiar with:

  1. Main Namespace - This is where lessons and shared learning materials reside. These are the only content titles without prefixes.
  2. Help Namespace - Prefixed with Help:, this namespace has a top-level table of contents at Help:Contents which links to other help pages. The Help link appears in the left navigation panel on every Wikiversity page.
  3. User Namespace - Prefixed with User:, this namespace is where your userpage resides if you have created an account and logged in. Creating an account gives MediaWiki a way to provide you with a Watchlist, keep track of your contributions and many other features.
  4. Special Namespace - Prefixed with Special:, this namespace contains many types of pages like Special:Recentchanges, Special:Allpages and many others. Just click on Special:Specialpages to see.
  5. Category Namespace - Prefixed with Category:, This is how things are classified and organized at Wikiversity.
  6. Template Namespace - Prefixed with Template:, this namespace allows pieces of content to be used on several pages for messages, navigation aids, or other reusable information. A template is "called" by placing a tag like {{SomeTemplate}} in the page you are editing.
  7. Image Namespace - Prefixed with Image:, this namespace holds pictures and image files that anyone can Upload to Wikiversity. See Special:Newimages for examples.
  8. Talk namespaces - Prefixed with Talk:, this namespace is for the discussion area that goes with each article in the main namespace. For prefixed pages, the prefix is appended with _talk to link to its discussion page. Examples: User talk:CQ (my user talk page), Template talk:Translators, Image talk:Wiki.png, ...
  9. Wikiversity namespace - Prefixed with Wikiversity:, this namespace is for pages that are about Wikiversity and its administration. It is known also as the project namespace. Examples: Wikiversity:About, Wikiversity:Welcome, newcomers, Wikiversity:Introduction, ...
  10. Portal namespace - Prefixed with Portal:, this namespace is for navigating general areas of interest through what we call portals. Examples: Portal:Education, Portal:Practical Arts and Sciences, ...
  11. School namespace - Prefixed with School:, This namespace is for major areas of interest and general study organized in a more traditional form. Examples: School:Medicine, School:Computer Science, etc.
  12. Topic namespace - Prefixed with Topic:, This namespace is for Department, Divisions or specialized areas of interest or study. They are usually linked to Schools and/or Portals. Examples: Topic:Web Design, Topic:Translation, Topic:Public International Law, etc.

Learning to work within and among namespaces is essential to understanding how Wikiversity is built, organized and maintained.

Text formatting

Text formatting is easy with MediaWiki:

'''Bold''' renders Bold
''Italic'' renders Italic

'''''Bold Italic''''' renders Bold Italic

Adding a space before some text renders:

A space before some text renders the text
in a gray box like this one

See the MediaWiki Handbook for much more information about starting new pages, text formating, creating sections and subsections, and all sorts of tips and tricks.

Linking pages

Linking pages is usually as simple as surrounding a word with square brackets: [[Some word or phrase]]. If you link to a page that does not exist, you produce a red link. Clicking on a red link automatically opens the editor at that page. If the page exists, you will see a blue link.

Make sure you are linking to the correct page. For example,

[[Public International Law]]

produces a red link because the actual article is at Topic:Public International Law. You can hide the fact that it is in the Topic namespace by adding a pipe (|) at the end like this:

[[Public international law|]]

causing it to appear like this:

Public International Law. 

Sometimes it is necessary to create a redirect from one page to another. For example, [[Wikiversity]] links to Wikiversity which is a REDIRECT to Wikiversity:About. Notice that when you get to Wikiversity:About you see "Redirected from Wikiversity" which is the #REDIRECT page.

You can link to articles outside of Wikiversity.

Wikipedia - [[w:Some Wikipedia article]]
Meta-Wikimedia - [[m:An article at Meta]]
Wikibooks - [[b:A title at Wikibooks]]

This is called Interwiki linking is an easy way to link to existing articles at Wikiversity sister projects.

Finally, you can link to external resources like this:

[http://www.google.com Google]

Which renders:


Notice that we use one square bracket instead of two and that the url can contain no spaces. The first space encountered acts to separate the url from the face that we want to appear. Always use courtesy and common sense when linking to outside sites. See external link for more info

Lists and listings

You can add a bullet to an item by simply adding an asterisk (*) to a new line:

  • Bulleted Item

You can create a bulleted list like this:

*Another item
*Yet another item


  • Item
  • Another item
  • Yet another item

A numbered list is created using:

#Another item
#Yet another item

Which renders:

  1. Item
  2. Another item
  3. Yet another item

It is customary to make lists with descriptions:

  1. Item - Description of item
  2. Another item - More detailed description of a numbered item that may use more than one line.
  3. Yet another item - Very terse and lengthy description of yet another item that may include a number of sentances. You may not add a line break or paragraph break and expect your numbering to be continued. It will start over.
  4. Still yet another item - Not starting a new paragraph or break allows this numbered listing to continue.
  1. Item - A paragraph break restarted the numbering
    1. Nested item 1 - nested item using ##
    2. Nested item 2 - another nested item using ##
  2. Another Item - counter returns to higher level with #
    1. Start a set of nested bulleted items using ##
      • nested bulleted item using ##*
      • nested bulleted item using ##*
    2. Start another set of nested bulleted items using ##
      • nested bulleted item using ##*
      • nested bulleted item using ##*
  3. Yet another Item - Counter keeps its place in a mixed hierarchy of items

These are some commonly used listing basics. See the MediaWiki Handbook for much more about lists and listings .

Table basics

Tables are frames that can be easily created using wiki syntax to make sets of data more logical and aesthetically pleasing. The basic syntax is:

|+ Simple Table
!heading 1 !! heading 2 !! heading 3
|data A1 || data A2 || data A3
|data B1 || data B2 || data B3

Which renders:

Simple Table
heading 1 heading 2 heading 3
data A1 data A2 data A3
data B1 data B2 data B3

Not too pretty yet. MediaWiki includes some table attributes using a predefined classes, such as class="wikitable" that we add to the table's opening tag:

{| class="wikitable"

By simply adding the wikitable class, the same code gives us:

Simple Table
heading 1 heading 2 heading 3
data A1 data A2 data A3
data B1 data B2 data B3

A bit nicer, eh? If we really want to get fancy, we can customize with more table and style attributes:

{| cellpadding="4" cellspacing="1" style="text-align:center; font-weight:bold; font-size:120%"
|+ Not-so-simple Table
|-style="background:Black; color:White"
!heading 1 !! heading 2 !! heading 3
|- style="background:FireBrick" 
|style="color:LightYellow"|data A1
|style="color:AliceBlue"|data A2
|style="color:MistyRose"|data A3
|- style="background:MidnightBlue" 
|style="color:LightYellow"|data B1
|style="color:AliceBlue"|data B2
|style="color:MistyRose"|data B3

Which renders:

Not-so-simple Table
heading 1 heading 2 heading 3
data A1 data A2 data A3
data B1 data B2 data B3

These color atrributes were made with Named Colors, but other web colors and methods can be used. A host of other attributes can be used to alter the look and feel of a table. There are as many ways to make tables as there are Wiki editors! See the MediaWiki Handbook for more.


Take a look at the code used on the Wikiversity:Main Page and its subpages:

  1. Wikiversity:Main Page/Welcome
  2. Wikiversity:Main Page/Communications and community
  3. Wikiversity:Main Page/Related links

Use the edit tab, but please don't change these without clearance. Look for table elements and how they work together to form the Main Page at Wikiversity.

Don't be shy about studying the code that drives Wikiversity, just hit cancel when you are done. It's best not to edit high-traffic pages but if you do accidently "mess up" a page, notify one of the Wikiversity:Custodians. (...and be more careful next time).


Sometimes it is desirable to create templates that can be reused on many pages. These are created in the Template namespace and can be quite complex for even experienced editors.

One of the simpler types is a reusable list. Template:Wikiversitysister-list is an example of a handy way to show all of Wikiversity's sisterprojects. Simply add the code {{Wikiversitysister-list}} to a page. It renders:

The links below lead to the main community pages of the projects.
All of these projects are multilingual and open-content.
Meta-Wiki – Coordination of all Wikimedia projects.
Wikipedia – The free encyclopedia.
Wiktionary – A collaborative multilingual dictionary.
Wikinews – News stories written by readers.
Wikibooks – A collection of collaborative textbooks.
Wikiquote – A compendium of referenced quotations.
Wikisource – A repository for free source texts.
Wikispecies – A directory of species.
Commons – Repository for free images and other media files.

Referring to a template

A way to refer to a template and the tag that calls it without transcluding it is like this:


which renders:


Notice that the text inside the curly brackets links to Template:Wikiversitysister-list.

Page templates

Sometimes it is handy to create whole pages from templates called "boilerplates". These are usually used for Schools, divisions and departments. See Category:Page creation templates for ideas on how to create whole pages from templates.


Go to Template:Wikiversitysister-list and click edit. Notice the combined use of table attributes, interwiki links, embedded HTML tags and other tricks to get the list to render the way its author intended. Please do not make any changes to this template. Hit cancel after youve had a long look.

If you want, you can copy and paste the code into the Wikiversity:Sandbox or a subpage of your user page. (See m:Sub pages and Wikiversity:Userboxes for more about subpages and userboxes.

Template documentation

Instructions on how and where to use a template should appear on its associated Template talk: page. Example: Template talk:Wikiversitysister-list. Unfortunately, many Wikiversity templates remain undocumented.


Userboxes are a popular tradition around Wiki sites. They are often artistic, witty and complex to create. {{User oops}} is a cute one:

  This user tries to do the right thing. If they make a mistake, please let them know.

Explore that one. Notice the extensive use of MediaWiki variables such as {{TALKSPACE}} and {{{1|{{PAGENAME}}}}}.

Template Taskforce

If you wish to learn more about creating and using templates, consider joining the Wikiversity Template Taskforce.

Advanced editing

This lesson touched on some basic editing principles. When you want to go further, See (and help to develop) more Wiki and MediaWiki lessons.

See also