Wiki Getting Started Faq

This is only one part of the overall FAQs; if your question is not answered here, see one of the other Wiki Faqs:

Then if you have your own question, use the EditText link at the bottom of this page to add your own questions (immediately after this note!). Try to add it to the most appropriate section.

Use the WikiBadge AnswerMe if

... and someone will get to it eventually.

Q: How is spamming and spammers handled on this wiki?

A: As of early 2005, no changes to this wiki, either by editing or adding new pages, are picked up by search engines until 10 hours have passed. All spam on this site is usually deleted in minutes, an hour at the most, making it pointless to try to add spam of any type to this wiki.

Q: Why is there no profanity on WikiWiki?

A: Because profanity is below us. Generally it gets removed within a day or so by regular readers - see DeleteInsults.

Q: How do I use this WikiGettingStartedFAQ?

A: Well, first read the questions and answers!

Q: So what is this Wiki thing?

A: A collection of Web pages which can be edited by anyone, at any time, from anywhere. (Legend has it that the name Wiki was inspired by the name of the shuttle bus at the Honolulu Airport. "Wiki" is a Hawaiian word for "quick".)

Q: Let me get this straight: Absolutely anyone can just come along and put whatever they like on any page?

A: Yes they can! It's essential to know how this wiki runs. However, we prefer that people exercise some self-restraint and put comments & edits only on the pages where they belong. If you're just in the mood to test out the Wiki software, you are encouraged to play in the WikiWikiSandbox; keep your TextFormattingRules handy. If you just want to dive into contributing to the discussion on the rest of this wiki, well you're welcome to do that, too.

Of course, if people deviate too much from expected behavior (for example if they post spam, offend people, delete good content, etc.) their posting will get undone. Users of a wiki will defend their work.

Q: But what is a Wiki good for?

A1: Most webpages are less than perfect. If it is a Wiki-page and you are annoyed by something, you can just hit the edit-button and change it! Over time, the site gets better!

A2: Many people can contribute. This allows documentation about something to be easily created, without much effort on the part of a single person.

A3: If we discuss something in a web forum, we can collect all the important arguments on a wiki-page very easily. On this page, you will probably get an overview about all the arguments much better than by reading a long thread in a forum.

A4: There are probably a hundred more uses. You will probably find more on "Meatball":

A5: See also the page WikiUses on CommunityWiki:

Q: How does a wiki work?

A: In its simplest form, a wiki is a combination of a CGI script and a bunch of plain text files ("pages"). When you request a wiki page, the script loads the corresponding text file, processes its marked-up text into HTML according to the TextFormattingRules, turns WikiWords into links, inserts this into a page template, and sends the result to your browser. Clicking on a WikiWord sends a request for that page to the script, which does the load/process/send thing again.

When you click a page's edit link, the script sends the raw text file to your browser in an edit form. You can now modify the page. Pressing the save button sends the modified text back to the wiki server, which replaces the existing text file with your changed version.

That's the basics. Not all WikiEngines work exactly like this, but all allow you to edit pages without leaving your Web browser.

Q: The words of your links are running together. Is this a bug?

A: No, it's a feature. ;-) It's how links are created. A side-effect is AccidentalLinking, which is a GoodThing(tm).

Q: How come I get lost in all these links in these pages?

A: Well, in a Wiki you should usually think more about which links you want to follow, because there are many more than in usual web pages. Click on links only if you really want to read more about the thing you are clicking on. Often you should not go down too deep into the links at first, but try to get the big picture at first.

Q: How can you make a link that will be opened in a new window?

A: In most browsers, right-click the link and then use the appropriate option from the resulting menu.

Q: What is the best place - for a newbie - to start using/exploring WikiWiki?

A: See WelcomeVisitors, NewUserPages or StartingPoints.

Q: Is there an organized Wiki user manual explaining all the editing and create/read/update/delete functions in one place? A million little links is time consuming to navigate.

A: There's no formal manual, but try StartingPoints, WelcomeVisitors, and BriefTutorial. And remember, this is a wiki - if you don't find what you want, you can create it or refactor existing pages.

Q: Which page is the Wiki's home page?

A: There isn't one. Wiki's pages aren't hierarchical. That said, some pages are better starting places for people new to the WikiWikiWeb - NewUserPages and StartingPoints, for example. There is a FrontPage, but it's no more special than any other page.

Q: Doesn't allowing multiple people to edit the same page at the same time often cause one person's changes to cancel out the changes someone else may have just made? For instance, if two people save edits to a page at about the same time, which ever one saves last would overwrite the changes that the person who saved first had just made.

A: Some wikis, including this one, detect and prevent that occurring. See EditConflictResolution.

Q: Is it okay to add text to a page, in order to learn how to do it and nothing more?

A: That's what the WikiWikiSandbox is for. Try it!

Q: When I press the EditText link, why can't I just edit the text on screen directly? Why does Wiki use a form for editing text instead?

A: WysiWyg editing doesn't work in every browser. Using a form to edit text does.

Q: How can I reduce the risk of losing my contribution?

A1: Don't overload a WikiPage with contributions. Insert a link to your contribution on a separate page. Select and copy the text before saving so it's stashed on your clipboard. Or, even better, write small and concise contributions so that you are encouraged to rewrite them more concisely when you lose them.

A2: The short answer is that you can't. The long answer is that WikiWiki is a community, and we like to keep our community clean. Some WikiZens, affectionately known as RecentChangesJunkies, are constantly monitoring RecentChanges to see the latest contributions. When they see pages that are off-topic, or just tests, they delete them to keep Wiki clean. If you want to test out WikiWiki, go to the WikiWikiSandbox. If you want to write something that's more likely to stick around, put it in your WikiHomePage. Have you ever created one?

A3: Write pages that everyone values.

A4: Not even WardCunningham can prevent his edits from being deleted. This is part of WhyWikiWorks.

Q: Is there any way to limit access to pages so only a certain "group" can edit specified pages?

A: There is on some wikis, but not on this one.

Q: What are the advantages of Wiki over newsgroups, specially when used among a small number of people? How is Wiki different from a newsgroup?

A1: The big difference is that newsgroups only allow you to append. Wikis allow you to edit anything, even previous posts. Newsgroups are strictly ThreadMode; wikis allow you to use DocumentMode.

A2: Wikis produce book-like documents, while newsgroups produce letter-like communications. Wikis are deeper, more towards knowledge.

Q: How do I start a new Wiki page?

A: Edit an existing page (like the WikiWikiSandbox) and include two or more words capitalized and run together (e.g. "WikiWikiSandbox"). Save the page and view it. You'll find the words followed by a question mark. That's a link. Follow that link, add some text, and save the new page.

See AddingNewPages and WhenToCreatePages.

Q: I'm interested in wikis, and think one might be useful to my group. I want to use WikiWikiWeb to test how it works, but don't want my test pages deleted. What can I do?

A1: You can set up a test wiki at one of the public WikiFarms.

A2: The WikiWikiWeb community is generally tolerant of test pages if they explain their purpose, and give a "delete after" date. (Something like "I created this test page for my ____ group to see if a wiki would be useful. We'll delete it after month day.") Creating OffTopic pages without explanation may be considered WikiSquatting, which is considered impolite.

Q: How do I make a hyperlink without displaying the URL? So I just want to see (for example) LINK and be able to click on LINK and go to

A: That's called a FreeLink, and you can't make them on this Wiki. There used to be a facility for numbering external links (like [1], [2], etc.), but this was disabled for security reasons (see WikiWikiWebFaq, FixingLinks for details). If you want to avoid retyping the hyperlink each time you use it, give the link its own page and refer to that page instead. This keeps down the clutter of naked hyperlinks.

Q: How do you add a picture, or sound file to Wiki?

A: You can't store these sorts of files on the Wiki server. But you can find that file somewhere else on the Web, and then include a link to it on a Wiki page.

If you include the URL to an image on a Wiki page, Wiki will recognize it as an image reference and format the HTML accordingly. For example, including the URL "" will result in this:

If you include the URL to a sound file on a Wiki page, Wiki will show it as a link, and readers/listeners will have to click on it to hear it. Like so: [Hopefully now corrected]

All these files stay over on the other server, so ideally you should find a way to ensure that the file won't be taken down there.

See TextFormattingRules for more.

Q: How do I add an applet/plugin/etc to a page?

A: You can't. The best you can do is to link to an offsite Web page with the applet, though it won't be inlined like a picture or sound file.

Q: If you want to add a question to a page, should you add it at the bottom or the top?

A1: It's up to you and the page itself. Play nice. Put it where it makes the most sense. Typically at the bottom, or just below that part of the page that inspired your question. Remember to try to keep the page so it reads well, or better yet, reads a bit better than before you contributed.

Q: How do I delete a page?

A: Short answer: edit the page, erasing all the text except the word DeletedButWelcomeToWiki. See HowToDeletePages for more.

Q: How do I rename a page without deleting it and losing its content?

A: Create a page with the new name, copy the old page's content to it, fix the old page's BackLinks, then delete the old page.

Q: How can I make it easier for someone to figure out which parts of a page I changed?

A: See RecentChangesOnaWikiPage.

Q: Maybe I am missing something obvious, but how can you be sure that I don't erase everything?

A: Well, there is always the diff, which you can see if you click on the EditCopy link at the bottom of any Wiki page. And there is a backup in case of massive vandalism.

See WikiErase for more.

Q: How do I report a problem with the operation of Wiki, e.g. editor not loading all of a page?

A: See TooBigToEdit. For other bugs, see WikiWikiBugs.

Q: Is any HTML markup supported? Can you just use HTML and have it rendered?

A1: No. See TextFormattingRules for details about how to do formatting in WikiWiki.

A2: See WhyDoesntWikiDoHtml or for the rationale.

Q: I was looking at WantedPages. A lot of these seemed to be the names of Java classes, which happen to have the same format as Wiki links. Is there any way to escape something with CapitalizedFirstLettersRunTogether so that it isn't a link?

A: Yes. See SixSingleQuotes. Other useful tips are in TextFormattingRules.

Q: I used accented characters and I got complaints that they weren't showing up. Why is this happening and how can I fix it?

A: They are showing up, except not to everyone. ASCII is the standard of the Internet, not UNICODE, which means accented characters won't display for all users. Indeed, while you could put Japanese on WikiWiki without much difficulty, most people just see random garbage.

Q: The previous question about the incapability of showing accented characters stated "ASCII is the standard of the Internet, not UNICODE." This sounds arrogant as ASCII stands for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange." Don't you think it would be better to write with a more positive tone toward UNICODE to broaden the wiki community? Is there a UNICODE-based WikiClone?

A: I don't know of any, but I'm writing one right now: SennikiWiki.

A2: There is a listing over which clones/engines that handle unicode in the WikiChoicetree

Q: Are you sure that "ASCII is the standard of the Internet, not UNICODE"?

At one time (HTML 2.0) "The base character set (the SGML BASESET) for HTML is ISO Latin-1."

Later this changed; HTML 4.01 says "The ASCII character set is not sufficient for a global information system such as the Web, so HTML uses the much more complete character set called the Universal Character Set (UCS) ... equivalent to Unicode" --

Q: Is there some way to remember which pages you read while in Wiki? Or some way to easily send page links to another page for editing? E.g. create bookmarks on your own user page?

A: Just bookmark in your browser (e.g., Ctrl D in Netscape) each page you might wish to revisit. Alternatively, you can just edit your user page and type the links in there. Use a bulleted list to make it look nice.

Q: How can I set up a button in my browser to edit the page you are currently looking at?

A: See EditPageBookmarklet.

Q: What did I do to get banned? Can I get unbanned if I promise never to do it again?

(Q back at you: How, if banned, did you add your question?)

A: The best way to get banned is to run a program against Wiki that denies service to other sites. Email WardCunningham to get unbanned. Include both your domain name and IP address as the Wiki self-protection logic might record either.

Q: Is this project open source?

A: Yes/no. There are umpteen versions of this particular software. While the exact software running this site is not open, some versions are OpenSource (but not FreeSoftware). See WikiInHyperPerl for one, or TheWikiWay for another. For FreeSoftware versions, see WikiWikiClone.

Q: There are images at the bottom of some WikiPage's but not others. (TextFormattingRules has several.) What do they mean?

A: Each image links to a page on another wiki. Those wikis (called SisterSites) happen to have a page with the same name as the page you're reading. For example, Both the WikiWikiWeb and MeatballWiki have pages named TextFormattingRules. If you're on the WikiWikiWeb's TextFormattingRules page, clicking on the MeatballWiki image takes you to the TextFormattingRules page on Meatball.

Q: I'm totally new to Wiki. I can't find the right way to start, though I have been to almost every Wiki page... I have this assignment to create a Wiki page. The 'Startpage' has to contain a few links. One link is to add a new Wiki page where you can fill in information about some project. Then when you create this new Wiki page, a link to it should appear on Startpage. Is this possible?

A: Yes, it is possible. Since you're totally new to Wiki, I suggest going to our NewUserPages page and then read the pages that it links to. Specific information on how to start new pages is in AddingNewPages (and also OneMinuteWiki). By the way, there are over 20,000 Wiki pages, so you'll probably have to spend a long time reading before you've visited them all!

Q: How do I create an edit textbox?

A: You don't really 'create' the edit textbox. You click on the 'EditText' link at the bottom of a page, and that will bring you to an editing page with an edit textbox on it. But then, you already know that since you added this question to this page. Every page automatically has the 'EditText' link on the bottom. Is that what you meant?

Q: After I ZIP-Dumped my pages, how can I restore them from the dump if it is needed?

A: With another script or by hand. What did you expect? And are you sure what you did was legal?

Q: Can I run a wiki on a private intranet? Where can I find information about setting up such a wiki (written for the average, non-technogeek)?

A1: Yes - see WikiEngines and RunningYourOwnWikiFaq.

A2: Setting up a wiki on a private intranet is not different from setting up a wiki for the internet.

Q: I still have no idea what Wiki is for!

A1: Neither does anyone else. But check out WikiMission and WikiPhilosophyFaq for some theories.

A2: There are literally hundreds of applications. Open online communities. Personal information management. Product support. Knowledge backbone of an OpenSource development community. Teachers use them for their classes. MeatballWiki is a good place to look further.

Q: How did WikiWikiWeb get started?

A: See WikiHistory.

Q: I heard there is more than one WikiWikiWeb.

A: There is only one WikiWikiWeb: this one. There are hundreds of wikis; one way being developed to start to know about them is TourBusStop. Also check out the developing WorldWideWiki:OneBigWiki at

Q: Why are these things so text-centric? Way to kill a potential audience before it even gets started.

A1: Wiki isn't for everyone. This wiki attracts programmers and tech-types, who are used to reading a lot. It's also a lot easier to create and edit text than images.

A2: It's a LessIsMore / WabiSabi / DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork thing.

A3:Images and other multimedia content may not be placed here without consent of the author, so it's largely a copyright problem.

Q: Can Wiki damage your health?

A: Becoming a RecentChangesJunkie can certainly damage your chances of having any free time. (And hurt your wrists if you spend too much time at the keyboard!) RepetitiveStrainInjury

Q: Can I edit other kinds of documents online? E.g., MicrosoftWord or MicrosoftExcel files?

A: Nope, only those that are explicitly designed for online or collaborative editing. Those usually require special software. See WikiLikeThings.

Q: What is the difference between a wiki and a blog?

A: Wikis are open to editing. They were created to encourage visitors to collaborate, to improve anything on the wiki. Blogs only allow visitors to comment.

Also, a blog has one owner, who has special privileges. Everyone's equal on a wiki (generally; some do have administrators).

Q: I have edited a page twice. How do I retrieve the last but one content?

A: In general, you can't. However, if you did not view the latest rendered version, the previous rendered version might be in your browser's cache.

For older versions of the page, see If you still don't find what you seek, check Google. It caches copies of pages it encounters when it crawls the Web.

Q: Are there other WikiFAQs?

A: Yes, try the following. Some answers are just copied from here, but there are interesting answers not found here. See

Q: I've seen that Wiki is done in PHP. There are some other wikis called WikiWikiClones. If I create a new wiki, on cgilua, how can it be considered a wiki clone?

A1: Actually, this wiki's engine uses Perl, not PHP. Other WikiEngines use a wide variety of different languages. A CGI script would be considered a wiki clone if it provided the basic wiki functions: automatic linking between pages, etc.

A2: The term wiki clone is used less and less. WikiEngine is used instead.

Q: I browsed a bit through the categories and discovered that the game cq2 didn't have a Wiki page yet. Because cq2 has an active community, I decided to make a cq2 page in the game category. They keep deleting it, saying it's OffTopic. How can a game be off-topic when there's a category for games?

A1: This wiki is about programming. The community puts up with certain off-topic content if enough people find it interesting (e.g, geek stuff like StarTrek), but anything offtopic can be, and often is, deleted. Post about programming and you won't get deleted.

A2: Games are OffTopic, but no rule is absolute. Those pages are there because (a) we don't want to start a delete war by killing them, and (b) they made it past RecentChanges a long time ago when OffTopic posts were less of a problem. However, many would like to get rid of them since they are OffTopic. Just because OffTopic material exists now doesn't mean we want more of it. There's far too many OffTopic posts as is and recently, many have begun to not allow it past RecentChanges because they feel OffTopic posts are polluting Wiki more so than usual.

See PleasePleaseDontCategorizeEveryPageOnWiki. Mostly, we don't like categories, even though some exist because of a few peoples efforts to put them everywhere. WikiIsNotaDictionary, it's a programming site. Talk about programming games and you'll have many people jumping into the discussion; try to list games dictionary-style just to say they exist and you're likely to get deleted. Some survive from sheer popularity since they fit the geek culture, but most don't. You have to survive RecentChanges on merit alone. If you want a page to live, then make sure it in some way relates to or discusses programming, only then will most people consider it OnTopic. There are no hard and fast rule, see WikiSocialNorms and WhyWikiWorks to get an understanding of the culture here.

Q2: Would a page with a list of great stuff that was once in a game but not anymore, and that should be put in a game more, be allowed? (That's about programming; why don't they program stuff like that into games? Why do they seem to be interested only in having more pixels and higher resolutions and more graphic stuff instead of improving the basics?) It could be turned into a discussion of what should be in a game and what not. I am not that good in expressing myself in English (need more practice), so here is a part of that list: RTS:

A: That's not so much about programming, as it is about specific features of a narrow class of programs. Before you create the page, ask yourself, "Does this page further Wiki's goal of offering insight into how to improve the activity of programming?"

Q: Where should I test things?

A: In the WikiWikiSandbox. Please don't deface working pages with tests.

Q: What is the history of Wiki?

A: See WikiHistory.

Q: How to implement a Wiki? Is there a tutorial for it?

A1: See RunningYourOwnWikiFaq.

A2: TheWikiWay contains a baseline Perl wiki, lots of explanations and extensions.

Q: Is there a copy of this FAQ written in simplified Chinese?

A: No.

Q: I don't understand. What if someone wants to be bad and deletes all the text?

A: No problem, we will undelete it. See WhyNobodyDeletesWiki.

Q: Aside from the WikiWikiWeb, what are some other successful wikis?

A: WikiPedia, for one. MeatBall is another. SusningNu in Sweden. NoSmoke in Korea. LinuxWiki in Germany. DseWiki in Austria. And, depending on your definition of "successful", hundreds more PublicWikiForums.

Q: I want visitors to be able to add text to a page (like comments or such), but not be able to edit everything else (i.e. append only). Can you do that with wiki?

A: Depends on the wiki. You can't do it here on the WikiWikiWeb, but other WikiEngines might have that feature (e. g. ZWikiWiki and ProWiki). If not, WikiEngines are generally pretty easy to write and modify - you might be able to add the feature yourself.

Q: If I wanted to use wiki in a Web site but keep the Web site template (tables, images, etc..), could I just copy and paste the HTML code from Dreamweaver or something?

A: Depends on the wiki. Some (e.g., QuickiWiki) use page templates, others don't.

Q:Are there any wikis that are suitable for use by visually impaired or blind people, using screen magnification or reader software?

A:Since wikis are text-centric by nature, most wikis are already friendlier to magnifiers and screen readers than other web sites are. WikiCase trips up some speech synthesizers on pronunciation (see also WikiWordsConsideredHarmful), so it might be preferable to use a wiki that supports hyphens or underscores e.g. Wiki_Words, or FreeLink syntax. Many wikis also support skins, themes, or styles via Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), making it possible to design an ultra-simple theme that works well with accessibility tools.

Q:That's great, thanks, but could anyone let me know which wikis in particular support CSS?

A:Depends on what you mean by support. Most WikiEngines use HTML/CSS templates to render wiki pages which you can adapt to your purposes.

Q:Did the owners of the website hire more people to run this Wiki?

A: Not in the usual sense of "hire". This wiki is non-commercial (except that it is an AmazonAssociate), not even supported by advertising; Ward (the sole owner, and creator of the concept of wiki, and implementor of the world's first wiki: c2 Wiki) pays for the hardware, software, internet connectivity, etc, out of his own personal pocket, and does software, hardware, and network administration himself. He did recently begin to recruit volunteer "stewards" to give him a hand in unspecified ways relating to fighting off attacks by e.g. spammers, but these "stewards" are not paid staff. And how could they be, when Wiki is non-commercial (and receives no grants) in the first place?

Q:You mean I can edit ANY page? Really?

A:Yes really (However, other members may delete or undo your editing as they see fit (WikiSpam and WikiVandal is not tolerated).

Q: Are there any 'plain text wikis' where there is no coding needed?

A: The ProWikiSoftware has a configuration option for making pages, branches of subpages, or a whole wiki 'plain text'.

Q: Can I attach files in Wiki? If so, how?

A1: NotOnThisWiki. If you have someplace else where you can host the file, you can certainly provide a link to it from here, just by putting the link in a page. Just be sure it's relevant to this wiki. Some other wiki implementations do optionally support file uploads, but it's generally not a desirable feature for a publicly accessible wiki, due to security concerns.

A2: Rather than attaching files, in Wiki you can point to them. This is preferable due to OnceOnly?. If the File one would have wanted to attach changes in time, the linking mechanism is a much better solution. One will need to have an internet location, such as one's own web site, or one which allows uploading of files, to make this work. This is not an expensive process, since there are many low-cost sites which one can use. (It ranges from 50 to slightly more than 100 dollars per month for such sites.)

Q: Can I upload an excel file and have others edit it on a wiki?

A: See the previous question.

Q: How can I disable the magic formatting codes temporarily? Sometimes I need to type * or # characters as literals, avoiding having them be interpreted as formatting characters.

A: The "*" character is a formatting character only when it starts a line or is preceded on the line by one or more tabs only. You cannot disable formatting on this wiki, but some other wikis have a means to do so.

Q: What is your reasoning behind implementing Perl/CGI for the WikiEngine? Wouldn't PHP offer more scalability and be less resource intensive on your servers?

A: This wiki is slightly older than PHP. Would PHP be more scalable and less resource intensive? That, I'm afraid, is an essay question with no simple answer. (But there are a lot of wikis implemented in PHP.)

Q: Help me to create a table in wiki, please!

A: If you're talking about this wiki, be aware that tables are a feature that is NotOnThisWiki. You can however use monospaced text to lay out information; see TextFormattingRules.

Q: How can I make replacements here? I mean (c), (TM) etc?

A: Please be clearer: what have © or ™ go to do with replacements?

A2: Do you mean HtmlEntity?? NotOnThisWiki. Use UtfEight instead.

Q: What is a pictoral representation of the frequency table?

A: ???

Q: What is the difference between Wiki and HTML?

A: No angle brackets. See TextFormattingRules.

Q: What's the difference between a WIKI and a blog?

A: Blogs are organized temporally while Wikis are organized by content. Blogs are largely addend-only (add content, then add comments, rarely editing either), while all parts of a Wiki are generally readily accessible for editing and refactoring. For the most part, content in Blogs is created by a single individual or small group (one->many), whereas Wikis are fully collaborative (many<->many). If one were to compare them, a Blog is more like a diary or newscast and a Wiki is more like a public bulletin board.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule when it comes to extensional definitions; one could lock down a Wiki and reduce it to a one->many use a 'Wiki' as a news source, for example, or could avoid editing old Wiki pages and get the 'addend only' property.

See WikiDesignPrinciples, too.

Q: Which WikiWikiClone is just like this one?

A: None. For reasons only known to Ward, he has not released it to the public.

Q: what all architecture patterns can be listed from wiki ?

A: Look in CategoryPattern for a starting point.

CategoryWikiHelp CategoryFaq

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