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MediaWiki - Customizing an entire layer of your Wiki

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MediaWiki
MediaWiki is one of those amazing things that make our Wikis awesome that nobody really knows the true power of. Well, I'm sure there's some of you out there, but I'm using this blog post specifically for new Wiki creators and those still on the novice side of the MediaWiki namespace, and how Wiki founders and administrators can use this awesome namespace to bring brand new technical layers and customization to their Wiki. Note that this blog post contains nothing about MediaWiki:Common.js or MediaWiki:Common.css.

Hello there, BobNewbie. I'm Sally the Interview girl.

Why hello.

So, Bob. We heard you have some nice stuff to tell the rest of Community Central.

Yes. Yes I have.

Firstly, could you give us a definition of what MediaWiki is to Wikia?

MediaWiki is one of the startup namespaces included in your Wiki when you create it (Note: There's more then one type of MediaWiki, but I'm talking specifically about the namespace). The interface and layout of your Wiki is made out of thousands of different MediaWiki syntaxes.

In the MediaWiki namespace, because of the large scale effect a single edit can have, all MediaWiki pages are protected. Only admins may edit them.

Interesting. Can you give an example of some common MediaWiki pages on Wikia Wikis?

In terms of my experience, I would say that one of the most used MediaWiki pages is the community corner one. This is the small box in Recent Changes below the New pages on the wiki/Hot Spots box.

Tell us more about how you can customize messages.

A full list of MediaWiki editable messages can easily be found by searching for Special:AllMessages on your Wiki. To edit them, simply click on the red link, then change the text to what you wish it should be.

Wow, and what other pages do you like to customize?

Some of the most important pages I think every Wiki should change is the MediaWiki page for welcoming users, and the welcome user page. When a user joins, generally they only have an awfully basic userpage, and sometimes, an awfully monotone welcome. Another thing I like to customize is the search not found page, to give users more advice to find their intended page.

Wow, and you can change buttons too?

Yes. Tired of "Publish"? How about changing it to, on a Alien-themed Wiki, to something like "Upload to Mothership", or the upload button to "Publish Masterpiece' on an artistic Wiki. Use your imagination!

Wait, you can change things you see in edit mode like the publish button?

Of course. See the toolbar at the bottom of the page? The one that allows you to easily use special symbols and syntaxes? Well, you only actually see it in edit mode, and like any other MediaWiki page, it can be customized!. Then there's the Minor edit button that can be changed, or, if you want to get into it more, how about changing the text a user receives when trying to edit a page while blocked? Think it's a bit too harsh? Hit that edit button!

Thanks for all the info! Any last words?

Yes. Everyone should remember that using MediaWiki can be a great thing for your Wiki. Your Wiki can be changed in brand new ways and you can have fun while doing it. Also remember that just because you can use MediaWiki, doesn't mean you have to, and just because you have never used MediaWiki, doesn't mean you can't learn to. I'll make a blog post about how to use MediaWiki:Common.js/.css later, but for now I want any users who have questions to ask them, and I truly hope that users will start to use this epic namespace.

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