At the Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario I saw two interesting talks about MediaWiki community and governance issues. They are worth listening!
Quim Gil, Engineering Community Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, was Analyzing conflict and possible solutions around WMF software development. He gave some helpful hints for community members and developers.
Markus Glaser, Managing Engineer for BlueSpice and Member of the MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Group, discussed approaches for a future MediaWiki governance and suggested to establish a focussed organisation, which integrates the requirements of third-party users into the MediaWiki development: Moving out of Home – MediaWiki Governance Revisited.
This blog post is worth reading: G. Brett Miller attended our webinar and summarizes perfectly, how WebDAV provides a much user friendly experience for uploading and working with files on MediaWiki: WebDAV and MediaWiki.
Jason Bock works for a company called DSA, which primarily does IT Support for the US Department of Defense. He is responsible for milWiki, a military enterprise wiki started in 2008 to be an „online internal encyclopedia for the US Department of Defence“. Milwiki is one component of an overall suite of DoD social business tools called milSuite. The milWiki alone supports 400.000 users and contains more than 20.000 articles in more than 7.000 categories.
In 2010 Semantic MediaWiki and later Semantic Forms were introduced to milWiki, which had a major impact on the data integrity.
In his talk at the Enterprise MediaWiki Conference 2016 in New York Jason Bock informed about some social aspects they built into the system also implemented by the functions of Semantic Mediawiki.
Instead of „normal“ wiki user page there is a template/form with certain fields,
Minimum information of the user like name, foto, skills, location and some tags to match across users,
Alternatively, the PageNotice extension can add a template with information on acquired points or badges in the header or footer of the user page.
Customer wanted to have a rating tool like in TripAdvisor
Elected to go with the SemanticRating extension which places a form on any wiki page generating a subpage for the rating and the review.
Implemented an template which shows all ratings and reviews in a list attached to the article
Calculation from all the ratings on the subpages to get an average score of „stars“
Introduces elements of gamification to the wiki
Rewards users for creating, editing and gardening efforts
Special feature: points for users for each additional author who contributes to a page that user created
Point calculation shown in a sidebox on user page
Automated User Badges
Manually badges did not work,
Automated badging system like in Foursquare and ProjectNoah (National Geographic),
Rewards participation within specific topic areas,
Helps to identify the experts for certain topics,
Tap into Semantic Ratings effort to reward users who receive positive reviews on articles.
At the end of the talk Jason shows some very useful code examples concerning the mentioned social functions.
This little helper from MediaWiki enables administrators to search and replace words or text passages. The changes can be done in the content of wiki articles and in article titles. Fast and easy, because the modifications will automatically be made in all relevant articles.
Special page to search and replace single words or text passages in articles
Search and replace in article titles
Usage of placeholders and regular expressions
“Replace text” has been tested to be operational for MediaWiki and BlueSpice by the BlueSpice developer Hallo Welt!
Images and screenshots are an essential part of the content. The visualization of content supports the understanding and the motivation to spend time on the text. But how can I upload pictures in MediaWiki and how do I insert it in an article? I will show you three ways how to display the pictures in your article – one in an original MediaWiki and two in BlueSpice. Also I will give you some background information on images in MediaWiki.
1. Uploading and inserting pictures in MediaWiki
If you are using a “normal” MediaWiki, you need to do two steps on two different places in the wiki. First, you have to upload the image with a tool on a special page and then it must be inserted in the article(s).
There is a so-called special page, which enables you to upload an image. This special page can be found at “Special:Upload”. There is also a link in the listed tools, which are mostly located in the navigation. Open this page and you will see the uploading tool from MediaWiki.
Browse your files and choose the image you want to upload. Click “Upload file” to save the picture in your wiki. Keep the file name in mind – you will need it to find the right file when inserting it in an article. A good advice is, to name the file with a descriptive file name, which means that the file names describes what is seen on the picture. A file with the title “DIC2009.jpg” can hardly be found later and other users won´t know what kind of picture this is.
Inserting images articles:
This is the tricky part. Call up the article you want to insert the picture in. Switch to the edit mode and place your cursor at the position where the picture should be shown. Insert the following code there:
This is the first step – the image has been inserted in the article and is displayed there. Now you can choose between several parameters to configure the image, e.g. the size of the picture, alignment, if it should be shown as a thumb and so on. Decide what parameters you want and add it in the code, separated with straight lines (a so-called “Pipes”) after the name of the image. This is, for example, the code for a thumb with the size 200px, which is placed on the left side of the text:
left, right, center, none
Defines, where in the text the image is placed (text flow)
Thumb and frame
Set the size of the image in pixel (the picture will be scaled automatically)
Set a link (if no link is set, a click on the image automatically opens the meta page of the image)
Insert a description
The caption will only be displayed, when the image is configured as a thumb, otherwise the description will be shown by mouseover
BlueSpice is a free Open Source MediaWiki distribution. It is installed on top of a MediaWiki. The content stays the same, but BlueSpice is well-designed, user-friendly and brings along some useful additional features. In the gratis version BlueSpice free, inter alia the InsertImage dialogue. With this little helper, you don´t need to cope with the wiki syntax anymore. You can insert a picture very comfortable and it also enables you to upload an image directly in the article you are editing and without changing to the upload page of MediaWiki.
This is how it works:
Switch to the editing mode of the article you want to insert the image at. Click on the symbol for the InsertImage dialogue. An extra window opens up and provides an upload button. Click on it to browse your files and to choose an image file for uploading. You can also add a description or a category for the image. Confirm your choice with “OK” and the file will be automatically uploaded to your wiki. After this, you can also do further adjustment of the wiki in this dialogue, e.g. set size, alignment and linkings. Confirm with “OK” again and the image is integrated in your article.
3. Upload and insert images with drag & drop or copy & paste
This functionality also requires BlueSpice and in addition to this, the fee required package BlueSpice [paste image]. You can get it in the BlueSpice Shop or in the subscription BlueSpice pro.
Open the article you want to insert the image at in the editing mode. If you want to include a picture from the clipboard, place the cursor at the position where it should be shown and press Ctrl+v. Or choose an image file in your explorer, hold it with pressed left mouse button and move it to the appropriate position in your article. The InsertImage dialogue opens, like described in chapter 2. Define your settings for the picture and confirm with “OK”. The image will be uploaded and inserted in the article.
Meta page and administration of images in MediaWiki and BlueSpice
Images are usually uploaded and stored in the “file” namespace. Users often detect an uploaded image as a normal content article in this namespace. Click on an image in any article and (if there is no other linking) you will be redirected to this meta page of the image.
Here you will find information on resolution and size, as well as links to the articles the image is used at. By the way, images and files are also versioned, so on the meta page you will find the versioning for this image. If you click on “Upload a new version of this file” you can upload a new file with the same file name and overwrite the old image with the new one. The image will be updated automatically in every article it is used at. Of course you can also do a roll-back.
In MediaWiki there are also special pages that create special lists related to images. Just call up one of the following special pages by inserting them in the URL behind the slash e.g. “mywiki.com/index.php/Special:Upload”
Spezial:Upload – Call up the upload tool
Special:MostLinkedFiles – List of files that are used very often
Special:ListFiles – This special page shows all uploaded files of the wiki. Search for certain files here.
Special:NewFiles – This special page shows the last uploaded files
Special:UncategorizedFiles – Shows files without an assigned category
To find out more on the technical administration please have a look at mediawiki.org.
The CategoryTree is a nice feature to list all categories and to give your users an overview of the topics in your wiki. But if you are using BlueSpice, it also provides a tag cloud for categories, which looks more fancy and can be configured and designed like the minimum font size, the increase factor, background or you can exclude categories from the tag cloud. To include the standard tag cloud in an article, just insert
at the position where it should be displayed.
The style definition is placed in the opening tag, e.g. <tagcloud style=”background:black;”> and the definition of the output can be written between the two tags, for example:
Read about the capabilities how to configure the tag cloud in our helpdesk article.
In BlueSpice and MediaWiki you can display the category system as a category tree. With the category tree, the user gets an insight into the structure and the yet available categories and articles. To insert a category tree into any wiki page please use the categorytree-tag and one of the existing categories from which the category tree shall start. In this example it is top level
There is also a special page for displaying the category tree – just call up “Special:CategoryTree”. This page provides a form where you can type in the category you want to be shown. You also have the choice whether all pages of the category, only the category (with subcategories if available) or all pages except the files should be shown.
For more detailed information and attributs for the categorytree-tag please have a look at mediawiki.org.
If you click on an image, which is uploaded and linked in your wiki – you will be redirected to the meta page of this file. Here you can discover a lot e.g.
size of the image
meta information of the image
you can see on which pages the image is used
and it is also possible to upload a new version of this file
Especially this last point is very important not only for images but also for files. Because if you have a new version of this file, which might be linked or used in several other pages, just click on „upload a new version“. Afterwards upload an „updated“ modification. Now, in every page this file is used, the new version will be shown – you don’t have to edit and update every page.
So you avoid spamming your wiki with too many files that might be named like „photo-account-manager“ „photo-account-manager-new“…. Just replace the original file with this functionality and you have replaced the file. Like you know it from the version history of articles, also the files have their own version history with the time a version has been uploaded and the user who did that. In the same way as you do it for articles, you can also rollback to a former version.
Not only Wiki gardeners of public wikis need to clean-up their content. Also wiki gardeners of company-internal wikis should do a regularly maintenance work. For example when users create a lot of test pages, because they don’t know that there is a sandbox. To delete one page after another is very laborious – therefore you can use the MediaWiki extension „nuke“ (that is also included in all BlueSpice versions) to delete several pages at once. You can also make settings for this extension e.g. limit the deletion for a special namespace, user or articles that include a certain word.
This functionality is provided on the special page “Special:Nuke”.