Jillaine's Help for Newbies[]

I started this page because I found it difficult to find in one place help for folks (like me) new to Wiki as a form for sharing genealogical information. There's a lot of great help for Wiki, generally, but what I needed (and still need) is contextual help, guidance for what to do when creating and editing pages of different kinds. So this is my place for organizing what I've found and what others have shared with me (especially Robin and Bill who have been SO incredibly helpful and patient with me). Ultimately, I'd like to see this (or a variation of it) moved into a Help:Newbies area.
This early attempt is just to get things down into one place; then I'll organize it (and welcome others to help me do so-- i.e., others have permission to edit this page even though it's in my "User" area). Jillaine 16:04, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

General Help[]

  1. Community portal for an outline of some of the main parts of the site, links to pages that tell you how to edit, and the link to a guided tour of some of the better pages.
  2. Main_Page/Getting_Started is a pretty good (but perhaps too simple?) place to start.
  3. Recent changes, where all edits and their authors (anonymous or signed-in) are listed in the order of most recently edited. Fascinating way to keep up on what's new or newly edited.
  4. [1] The mailing list of this Genealogy Wiki.
  5. adding a "Babel" template let others know which languages you are comfortable reading. The site is basically in English but there's no prohibition on other languages. We already have over 100 kB in Spanish, for example.
  6. Discussion of any aspect of the site, and enquiries, can be made through the Forum or on the "discussion" page associated with each article.
  7. Help:Category
  8. Entering a colon before the word Category takes you to that Category page without generating the category function on the page itself; for example:
Category:American contributors
Category:United States contributors


Use categories on your pages to help organize your pages so that others can find them and to contribute to the overall organization of the wiki.

About the use of categories, Robin recommends:

Be less afraid (or not at all). Generally one 'wrong' category is better than none at all. But:
  1. There's no really wrong category apart from one that has no relation to the subject; sometimes a better one could have been chosen because it already existed and would do the intended job better (eg by linking to more pages or being in a form that would be easier to find in lists))
  2. Changing a "wrong" category is easy; where things get time-consuming is where some keen newbie creates a "wrong" category then enthusiastically gives it an introductory paragraph and parent categories and so on. All have to be undone and/or redirected, one page at a time.
  3. When a category is first created, it remains "wanted" until a) a page is created for it, and b) it is itself categorized under an existing heading. Editing it requires giving it text such as an introductory sentence, and/or typing [[category:Name of PARENT category for our dear new much-wanted category]]).

Here's more about Categories:

How to find the best one if it exists[]

  1. If you can find similar pages, see what categories are used for them.
  2. Use (one or more of) exactly the same categories as Wikipedia uses for similar pages; go to edit the WP page and copy the categories direct from its edit box and paste into your page.
  3. Think of the most particular/distinctive word or two in what you think the category should be, and try a Search for that; look at the most promising: it or one of its subcategories may be just what you want.
  4. Save the page without a category but create a Forum:Help desk item (with a link to the page) explaining the position. Someone "with wiki-smarts" will notice soon and probably find the best category, apply it, and tell you gratefully. (Provided by: Robin Patterson 03:45, 5 July 2007 (UTC))

PLACE Categories[]

"Place" categories collect pages and subcategories about a place, such as:

  • the main article for the place (preferably listed first in the "Articles" section)
  • cemeteries' pages
  • history page (where that's too long to be comfortably shown in the place article)
  • suburbs' pages
  • for a port, its ship pages
  • family history societies
  • "Surname in place" pages, such as "Coker in Alabama"
  • other repositories if numerous

Generally, do not use these on pages about individuals unless a person stayed in one place all of his or her life. (Thanks, Robin Patterson)

"Year" categories[]

These are just like Wikipedia's year categories - the year is the page name. (Same with year pages) They are grouped in centuries - not too much scrolling there! - and should include links to adjacent years. See

See Forum:Standardising "year" articles for some discussion of what should be on a year page as distinct from its corresponding category. (Provided by Robin Patterson on 03:45, 5 July 2007 (UTC))

Pages / Articles[]

Individual "pages" inside of Wikiland are called "articles"

  • Special:Allpages is an index (of sorts) to all articles.
  • Special:Allpages&from=&namespace=14 Another way of looking at all PAGES, in a 3-column format.

What do all the Codes Mean?[]

  • 3 or 4 tildes (~~~) result in your "signature" appearing on what you've just written. In some places I see only 3 used; in other places 4 are used. I'm not sure what the difference is.
  • Use a set of single square brackets ([ and ]) around a typical URL or web address to make it clickable. For example: []. If you want another word to appear instead of the URL, separate the URL with a space from the word or phrase you want to be clickable. For example: [ Wikipedia]
  • Use a set of double square brackets around an internal WIKI address (such as [[User:Jillaine]] to make it clickable.
  • The curly brackets ({ and }) indicate some sort of macro or mini program that generates something automatically. Like a script. But I clearly need to find out more about this. (I'd love to see a list of all the various such scripts and what function they perform.)

Other Cool Helpful Stuff[]

  • Use "What Links Here" (on the left hand side of every page) to find out what other Wiki pages link to the one you're currently looking at. It's a great way to find out how other folks are linking to that page. A good way to get ideas, see what categories other people use, etc...
  • Use [2] for a list of what I've contributed and edited recently. Replace "Jillaine" with your user name to see your own.

Outstanding Questions[]

What's a Namespace and Why Should I Care?[]

I'm still trying to get my head around this, but I THINK a "namespace" is the word that appears before a colon in a wiki address. For example, "Help" is the "namespace" for the page Help:Categories. Apparently there are a total of 18 namespaces on this wiki; here are the ones I've found so far (the help page says there are 18, but doesn't name them):

  1. Category
  2. Forum
  3. Help
  4. Image
  5. Project
  6. Special
  7. Talk
  8. Template
  9. User

What's less clear to me is when and how to use these in my own work. Some cases are obvious, but I'm not sure all cases are. And there's still all the other namespaces I haven't figure out yet.