Help:Beginner's guide

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First things first

Starting out

If you aren't familiar with mediawiki syntax, check out Wikitext markup. This covers basic wiki commands and style. Of course, to edit a page, you really only need to click the edit tab and start changing text, but knowing how to format pages will help you present information more clearly and effectively.

You should also create your user profile, which can be found in the upper right. Generally, every time you make a new page, you should categorize it. A list of existing categories can be found here, but don't be afraid to create your own if you feel the need.

The best way to get familiar with the wiki is to use it, exploring different ways to present information and format articles. You can go to the sandbox for experimenting and playing with syntax, so that you can try out new things without affecting pages in the wiki.

Editing pages

Feel free to edit pages, but be respectful of others. Keep your tone neutral, include citations if possible, and link to discussion threads when referencing them.

To talk about what you think should be on a page, use the related discussion page instead of the article itself (these are tabbed in the upper left of each page). To talk to other users, leave a note on their user talk page, [[User talk:USERNAME]].


You can copy/paste templates into new pages to save yourself some work. Templates page names have "Template:" as a prefix, to distinguish it from normal articles. There are two ways to insert templates.

Using templates

If you just want to insert a block of text (like Template:Stub), simply put curly braces and the name of the template. For example, to insert the stub template into a page, you would insert


Note that the first part, "Template:" is left off.

This will not convert to wikitext, so you can only change what the inserted text says by changing the original template. This is good for marking things like stubs, that don't need a customized message.

Useful templates

Also, see the full list of templates.

Style Guide

In order for our wiki to be coherent and readable, everyone should follow a basic set of stylistic conventions. Usually we follow the Wikipedia MoS.

Naming pages

  • check for alternative capitalizations; it would be awfully confusing to have a page named "Project Team" and another page named "Project team"
  • avoid capitalizing titles, unless there are proper nouns (for example, "Beginner's guide", not "Beginner's Guide")


Subpage creation should be carefully considered and general avoided. Good uses of subpages include:

  • user subpages - it's fine to make [[User:USERNAME/Sandbox]] or [[User:USERNAME/Brainstorming]]
  • archive pages of a general page - for example, [[Boston meetups]] could give general information for planning the latest meet, and [[Boston meetups/Jan 12 2007]] could give information about a specific past meetup

Looking to the future

You should start a page with the most generalized name possible. For example, start by making [[Boston meetups]] and not [[Boston meetups 2008]].


  • when linking within the wiki, use spaces instead of underscores, even if they go to the same place - i.e. [[Boston meetups]] instead of [[Boston_meetups]]
  • avoid running together words in CamelCase unless you are referring to a proper noun (like MediaWiki); this allows for easier reading and comprehension

General writing

  • write clearly
  • try to avoid words with unclear or multiple meanings
  • avoid making pages dependent on one another; this makes reading and editing unnecessarily difficult
  • categorize pages!


In general, avoid using colored text. To emphasize text, use ''italics '' or '''bold text'''.


Don't understand something? Want some help? Contact an admin on the wiki.

See also