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Dr. Strangelucas, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki
[07/14/2009] [Lucas the Lost]


I'd like to start by thanking all the folks that have made the Amtwiki possible. First and foremost on that long list would be Count Sir Roger Judas Shrubstaff, He Who Runs It All. Without him, there would be no Amtwiki, so thank you. Next would be the Matron Saint of the Amtwiki, Arch Duchess Dame Linden Tul. She has almost certainly put more time into the Amtwiki than any other individual. I'd also like to thank Bowen, Hannsoke, and Itsari, my fellow Sysops. Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank everyone who has ever made a contribution to the wiki. That's the whole point, isn't it?


What's Amtwiki? It's a Wiki for Amtgard. If you're reading this, you probably have some idea of what Amtgard is, which leaves the “wiki” part.

So what's a Wiki? A wiki is a web site that allows just about anyone to edit just about anything. Anyone can create a new page. With a few exceptions (the Amtwiki's main page being the most obvious) anyone can modify an existing page. Wikipedia is probably the most famous example, but there are a lot of wikis out there. Amtwiki and Wikipedia both run on basically the same software, called MediaWiki.

Modifying a Wiki

Folks can modify exiting pages, or create new ones. So how do you modify an existing page? Nothing to it really. Across the top of each page of a MediaWiki (such as Wikipedia or Amtwiki) you'll see a number of tabs:

“Article” should be pretty obvious, and we'll get to “discussion” and “history” later. For now, I hope you've deduced that we're interested in the “edit” tab. Congratulations, there may be hope for you yet. That “edit” tab at the top will bring up an edit page for the entire page. There are also a number of sectional edit links on the right of each page that look something like this

Clicking on one of these edit buttons will bring up an edit page that is restricted to that particular section... If you're just making changes to a single section (or if the page you're editing is huge), by all means stick to the sectional editor. If, on the other hand, you'll be making changes to multiple parts of the page, I urge you to use the edit tab at the top. Fewer edits is better. I'll explain later, but for the moment, you'll just have to take my word for it.

And how do you go about creating a new page? There are several ways, here's two:

  1. Type the name of the page you wish to create into the “search” field on the left (highlighted in red in that image on the side) and hit go. This will take you to a page that says something like “There is no page titled "Your New Page's Name". You can create this page.“ Clicking on the red text will take you to a blank edit page. This new page won't actually exist until you hit the “save page” button on the bottom.
  2. Create an internal link to that page on an existing page in [[the usual fashion]]. More on links later, but once you save the page with that link, it'll show up (in red again, noticing a pattern?) you click it, and you're off to one of them spiffy blank edit pages just like Mama used to make. You don't even have to save the page with the link, you can click “show preview” and click the red link in the preview instead.

Speaking of preview...

Preview vs Submit-submit-submit-submit

The preview button is your friend. Don't let it get all lonely. I strongly recommend that people making edits always preview a page before they submit their changes. There are a number of reasons. It means you get to make your mistakes privately instead of putting them on display. It saves some space on the server... each edit has some overhead associated with it. Spamming edits also makes the page history difficult to use, which leads me to my next topic.

Page Histories

One of the tabs at the top of each article is titled “History”. Clicking on it will bring up a page that looks something like:

If could see the full, unredacted screen shot, you'd notice that one editor made 10 edits to this page between 3:20am and 3:37am. If someone (like me) felt the need to examine each change, that's basically 10 times the work to “patrol” all the changes.

We've traveled rather far afield, and still haven't covered some of the most basic tasks in editing a wiki page, so lets get back on track.

The Edit Bar

One of the most useful features (after the “show preview” button) is the collection of icons across the top of the text entry area on an edit page:

All but the rightmost three buttons will Do Their Thing on selected text, or inset empty formatting at the cursor. They all have those spiffy mouse over tool tip thingies, so figuring out what they do shouldn't be terribly difficult. I'll mention it from time to time.


Information is all well and good, but a good wiki is a well-linked wiki. To create a link, you simply wrap a word or words in [[double square brackets]]. The third button on the left in the edit bar will do this for you, the one with the underlined text. If, for example, you wanted to create a link to my page for whatever reason, it would look like this: [[Lucas The Lost]]. If you want the link to look like something other than the full name of the page, you simply insert a vertical bar | (right over the enter key on most keyboards) after the name of the linked page, and then type in whatever text you want displayed. For example: [[Lucas The Lost|sluffing flurb]] would display “sluffing flurb” and link to my page.

Now, that's all there is to know about internal links. If you want to link to something out on the Intarwebs, you use single square brackets, thusly: []. The protocol (HTTP in this case) is Very Important. No protocol, no link. The above link would look like this: If you'd like your links to look like something other than a sequence of numbers, you simply add a space, followed by the text you want to appear: [ Fount Of All Knowledge] would be displayed remarkably like Fount Of All Knowledge followed by that little web-link arrow icon. Again, you can use the edit bar, the 4th button on the left, the one that looks a planet with a document in front of it.


There are two basic ways to add an image to a wiki page.
  1. Type in the URL to the image, no brackets of any kind: Note that the link may not contain a '?', and must end with an image extension (.jpg in this example). If either of these rules is broken, no worky.
  2. Upload the image to Amtwiki, and reference it from the page. [[Image:ImageName.jpg]]. With an [[Image:]], you can use various parameters to do interesting things with the image. You can size it, for example [[Image:MyHugeImage|200px]]. It doesn't matter how bit (or small) the image was, when it appears using the above markup, it'll be 200 pixels wide. The 6th button from the left will create [[Image:Example.jpg]] and leave you to fill in the actual text. You can also type in the name (with extension) of your image, select it, and hit the image button.
Keep in mind that each player may only have two images uploaded to the Amtwiki, one personal image, and one for their heraldry. On the other hand, you can link out to the Internet all you like.


At the bottom of most pages, you'll see something like:

Each of these are links to various category pages. A category page is like a regular wiki page, plus a list of all the pages that belong to that category. To add a page to a category, you add [[category:Category Name]] anywhere on the page in question. In practice, categories are only added to the bottom of a page... it makes them much easier to find. Anyone can create a category just like any other page: [[Category: New Category I Made Up]]. When you save (or preview) the page the category will appear as a red link. Follow the link to the edit page, and away you go. The category itself will be empty until you save a page with that category on it. No big surprise there.

  • Category isn't case sensitive. “Category” and “category” both work just fine... but try to match what's already there if you're editing an existing page. The space after “category:” is optional. Again, consistency is nice.
  • When previewing a page to check to see that you didn't misspell your categories, the category list appears below the edit window. Annoying, but that's Just How It Is.
Text formatting

The first mistake a new wiki editor is likely to make is to assume that hitting 'enter' in the mark-up will create a new line in the output. Not So. You have to hit enter twice, or add
to the end of the line.

People making pages will, from time to time, want to add emphasis, in one way or another. To display italic text, wrap the text in two single quotes, ''like this''. The edit bar will do this for you if you select the text and hit that second button on the left. Bold text uses three single quotes, '''thusly'''. Again, the edit bar can chip in, this time with the first button on the left. If you don't close the quotes, they affect text all the way to the end of that line.

Folks also like to add lists of things. To add a bulleted list, use the '*' (asterisk):
*A list entry.
*Another entry
**A nested entry
***A deeply nested entry.

Numbered lists work similarly, only use the '#' (pound sign):
# Item One
# Item Two
##Item Two dot one
##And so on

You don't need to worry about doing anything fancy to get separate lines with bulleted or numbered lists. Further, I'm not aware of any particular nesting depth limit, but I still wouldn't go crazy just for amusement value. Well... I probably would, but there's no need to follow my bad example.

Section headings

I briefly touched on sections earlier. To create a section, you wrap the heading for that section in equal signs '='. More signs on each side means a smaller heading.
=Heading 1=
==Heading 2==
===Heading 3===

These will also show up in the table of contents at the top of the page, though TOCs only show up when they have at least 3 entries (by default).


Redirects are pretty simple: #redirect [[Where I Want To Go]]. Most user pages are just redirects to their player page. User:Lucas is just #redirect [[Lucas The Lost]].

If you found that you've followed a redirect to some other page, but really want to look at the redirect itself for some reason, all is not lost. At the top left of the page, you'll see the page title with the words “Redirected from blah de blah” underneath, looking remarkably like that image on the right. If you click on the “from” link, you'll be taken to the redirect page itself, were you can edit, look at the history, and do all the things you can do with any other wiki page.

Circular redirects stop on the first repeated page. Nice try though.


Templates are a chunk of wiki that can be included in other pages. The most common use for this feature on Amtwiki is belt line templates. Templates use double curly brackets {{like this}} instead of square brackets like [[normal wiki links]]. To whip up a new template, you can use the preview/save page method of page creation, only with {{template brackets}} instead. The missing template will appear in the page like so: Template: missing template name.

It's actually a bit harder to modify an existing template, but only a bit. Edit a page that contains the template in question and immediately preview that page. At the bottom of the preview page, under the edit area, you'll see a list of templates used when building the preview. You can click on the template pages in that list, and then hit the edit tab at the top of the resulting page.

Talk pages

The last tab at the top of the pages for us to cover is the “Discussion” tab. Each and ever page in the wiki can have a discussion page where (as you may have guessed) the page is discussed. If you have a question to ask, or some less-than-objective things to say, this is the place to put them.

It's polite to sign your comments when you add something to a talk page. To do so, you simply type --~~~~ and when you save/preview, it'll be translated into a link to your user page and a time stamp. Three tildes (~) instead of four will keep the link but drop the time stamp. The longer version is standard. The edit bar can once again save you some typing. The third button on the right (the one that looks like a signature) will paste in the --~~~~ for you.

Inset text

If you add spaces before a line's text, you'll get this text indented a bit, with a dashed line around it, in a monospace font. It might be handy for code samples, but I think it looks like ass. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

"How did they do that?"

You will often (at first) come across something on a wiki page and have no idea how it was done. Not to worry, it's quite simple to have a look and see the proverbial man behind the curtain. Just hit the edit tab and you can see all the markup that was used to describe the page.

Where To Find More

Wikipedia has a vast collection of articles on editing Wikipedia. The majority of it carries directly over to Amwiki, but not all of it. Sadly, finding out what doesn't apply is generally a matter of trial and error. None the less, it's extremely useful stuff, and here's as good a starting place as any:


That pretty much covers the WIKI portion of the Amtwiki, but there was precious little AMT in there. Just about everything up to this point applies to any MediaWiki on the web. Lets get down to brass tacks.

Page Templates

There are a number of pre-formatted pages to be used as a base for various sorts of new pages on Amtwiki. All these templates (not to be confused with MediaWiki {{templates}}) are in the “Category: Amtgard Templates”. The most frequently used one is the “Player Entry Template”. This page has been set up such that you can copy and paste its content to get the correct formatting. If you follow the directions properly and paste the correct portions into a new page, you should have something that looks like this:

== [[Title]], [[Belt line]] Full Amtgard Name, of [[Park]] [[Kingdom]]==
''”An indicative quote”''



===Affiliated Groups===

===[[Belted Family]]===

===Notable Accomplishments===

===Additional Images===

* Link to image 1
* Link to image 2

===More Information===

* Personal Website
* Company Website

*[ ORK]
[[category: "Name of park without quotes" People]]

You can then fill in the blanks and have a spiffy looking player page that appears to have been made by someone who Knew What They Were Doing. It's also easier to find something out about a given player if their page more or less follows the standard. Folks get used to looking for various things in various places. Oblige them.

Some suggestions, guidelines, and a rule or two.
  1. Self-linking is rather pointless. It changes the text to bold, but you already know how to do that another way, doncha? A link that goes nowhere isn't much of a link.
  2. Amtwiki isn't ORK. After some discussion on the E-Sam forum, we've decided that credits, levels (save for 6ths), and “X order of the Y” don't belong. You can find that discussion here. There are two schools of thought on the matter:
    1. It's really easy to lie, either make yourself Look Cooler, or to delete someone else's awards.
    2. Duplication of information is bad. It's already on the ORK (and if it isn't, you might want to start flogging your PM, but that's another article).
  3. No pooftas.
  4. Remember that you should only have two images uploaded per player. Bandwidth isn't free.
  5. “Affiliated Groups” is generally interpreted as “companies and households”, though some folks include various lands they've been members of through the years.
  6. Most belt lines of any size have their own {{template}} (or multiple, nested templates for the Really Huge ones). That way you only have to change one page when squire Whats-His-Name takes on a new MaA rather than All Of Them. The rest are automagically updated thanks to the wonders of templates. To see if there's already a template for a given belt line, type “Category: Beltline Templates” into the search bar and have a look. If you're creating a new belt line template, it would be wise to add it to that category as well.
There are also an entry template for chapters, and one for households/companies. Each type has their little idiosyncrasies, so you might want to examine a couple existing pages of that type before you build your own to get an idea of what's expected.

For example, place templates can greatly benefit from an embedded Google map. To embed a Google map, bring up a place's edit window, and click on the right-most button in the edit bar. This will bring up a new page, similar to a preview. You'll see a Google map at the top, and the normal edit page stuff below it. Between the map and the edit area you'll find a number of radio buttons that control various aspects of how the map is presented. Below that is some inset text with the label “Below is the Wiki mark-up to create the map above.” You can zoom around and create points and labels and so forth until Peter LaGrue becomes a useful member of society, but until you copy that inset mark-up, and paste it into the chapter's actual wiki page, you haven't modified that page at all. So copy it, paste it, preview it, and once everything is to your liking, save it.

Categories, Part 2

There are a number of categories that this or that fall into that aren't immediately obvious. “Knights of ” for example, contains knights that were knighted in that land, not knights that currently reside there. Important distinction. “Active” and “Defunct” lands are pretty self explanatory, but “Former” lands might not be. If a park is in the category “Former Emerald Hills Places” (and none are at the moment), that means the park left the Emerald Hills, voluntarily or otherwise. If that land later went defunct as a freehold, it would belong in both “Defunct Freehold Places” and “Former Emerald Hills Places”, along with “Defunct in ”.

There are a LOT of categories. If you've got a few minutes of time to spend, you can go through them all. The easiest way to get to the list of categories is to click on the word “Categories” at the beginning of any page's category list.

How to Get Yourself Banned

One of the things admins do on the wiki is ban people. Ninety five percent of the time, this means catching spammers and making sure they don't come back (from that particular zombie spam-bot anyway). The remaining five percent of the bans are folks who log on and either have a grudge against someone or think they're witty (and are only half right). Spammers get perma-banned, no questions asked. If someone has never contributed to the wiki before, logs in, and starts spewing rage all over... chances are we'll perma-ban them too. If, on the other hand, someone who has made various useful edits in the past does something less-than-acceptable, they can be banned for a specific amount of time, anything from a couple hours to a year. It's up to the admin in question to pick the time. There aren't any specific rules governing ban duration.

If someone feels they've been wrongly banned, they should feel free to take issue with it on E-Sam's Amtwiki forum. Bans have been lifted in the past. Friendly pranks done with the full knowledge of the player in question have been mistaken for faggotry. These things happen, and they've been fixed. On the other hand, bans have also been called into question and declared valid. YMMV.

Black-Belt Wiki-Fu

If you've got all the above down pat, there's always more to learn. And if you've advanced down the path of Amtwiki Guru, you've no doubt been practicing quite a lot, and have benefited the club in doing so. Thank you.

So what's left?

Recent Changes page – AmtWiki's Crack House

One of the links on the left of the page is entitled “Recent Changes”. If you spend a lot of time here, you need to come to terms with your addiction. “Hello, my name is Lucas, and I am a Wikiholic”. I've been on the wagon for almost 5 minutes now.

Clicking on that link will bring you to a special page listing the last X edits over the last Y days. I have mine set to 150 edits over the last 7 days. I believe the default is to list the last 50 changes over the last 7 days, though it's been a while.

There are a number of links you can use to filter this page in various ways. “Hide logged in users”, “hide anonymous users”, “hide minor edits”, hide this, hide that, hide the other thing. And once you've hidden them, you'll be presented with the option to show them again on the newly filtered page.

There are any number of people who check the recent changes page on a regular basis to see what's been changed, and make sure it's Kosher. This is how the vast majority of spammers are found and dealt with. It's a never ending task, but one well worth the effort.

This is also where all those non-preview-using heretics leave a legacy of their errors for all to see. SHUN!. By making a large number of submissions rather than previewing and making a single edit, it makes this page harder to use. Yes, I am obsessed. Lets move on.

{{Templates}} with Parameters

In addition to the more common belt line templates, there are a couple “Infobox” templates that take a number of named parameters. The most common (though it's not used all that much) is the “Infobox Amtgarder”. If you simply include {{Infobox Amtgarder}} in a player's page, you'll see something suspiciously like this appear on the right side:

To fill in all those blanks, you need to pass in a bunch of named parameters. For example, my own player page uses the info box like this:

Template:Infobox Amtgarder|
name=Lucas the Lost|
park=[[Siar Geata]]|

They're not all prettily spread out with each parameter on its own line, but that makes things much easier to read, so lets just go with it. Named parameters don't have to be in any particular order, but I've listed them in the order they're used. You are nearly required to use an uploaded [[Image:]] in an infobox like this. The box itself is set to a width of 200 pixels. Any image wider than that does Unpleasant Things to the page's layout. See for yourself. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

There's a similar infobox template for chapters, but I'll leave that as an Exercise For The Reader.

Special Pages - How to Kill Lots of Time (and Benefit the Club a Bit on the Side)

The special pages link on the left of all MediaWiki pages can be found just below the search controls. Clicking it will take you to a list of all the Special pages in the wiki. No Forest, they don't need to be wrangled. Sit down.

You'll find the “categories list” and “recent changes” pages here, along with lots of their friends. I'll just hit on the highlights.
1. All Pages: List of all the pages in the entire wiki. I don't think anyone has that much spare time, but if you're particularly bored, take a gander.
2. Broken Redirects. Redirects that go to dead pages. AKA Redirects that need fixing.
3. Double redirects: Redirecting to a redirect. AKA More redirects that need fixing.
4. File List: A list of all uploaded files.
5. List of blocked IP Addresses and user names: AKA hall of shame
6. Long Pages: Is your page the longest? Not unless your name is Wanderer, and there are two pages longer than his, they're just not player pages. Sheesh.
7. Orphaned pages: Pages that aren't linked from anywhere. Note that these pages may still be part of a category, so they're not guaranteed to be useless, though the possibility is there.
8. Protected Pages: These are pages that have been modified so that not just anyone can modify them. Pages can require any user account or admins-only. Only admins may protect pages.
9. Random Page: It's the same as the “Random Page” link on the left of all pages. If you find yourself using it much, you may as well come join us at the next Wikiholics Anonymous meeting.
10. Uncategorized Pages: Pages without categories. Duh. Someone with a lot of time on their hands might go through them and add categories where they thought it appropriate.
11. Unused Categories: AKA Pages waiting for an admin to delete them.
12. Unused templates: AKA More pages on death row.
13. Upload file: Identical to the link on the left of all wiki pages by the same name. Go here. Upload stuff. Amtwiki restricts uploads to certain extensions... image formats only as far as I can tell.
14. User Contributions: This allows you to list all changes made by a particular IP address or user name. Handy when you're trying to figure out how long a ban should be... or when you're trying to figure out who's Wiki-Wang is longer. Mine is. Deal.
15. Wanted Categories: Categories used in one or more pages that don't have an actual page of their own yet. Another place where someone can spend time Adding Stuff.
16. Wanted Pages: I'm going to assume you have a couple brain cells to rub together and let you figure that one out on your own.


There's still quite a bit of detail hither and yon I haven't covered (user preferences spring to mind), but its my hope that this article will get any aspiring Amtwiki contributors out there up and running relatively quickly. Happy editing.

[ discuss on forums ]


The Amtgard O.R.K. 3.0


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Online Games Database

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