A user page is just what it sounds like—it's a page about a user. All user pages are in the User namespace, so they start with the word "User." My user page, for example, is User:Brandon Rhea. Creating a user page is often one of the first things someone does when they’re new to a wiki, because user pages can help introduce you to a community, but what should a user page actually be like?
Tell your story
The best user pages tend to tell a story about a person's wiki life, so if you're looking to write a new user page, my suggestion would be to go that route. If I was going to write a new user page for myself today, and it was going to be for Wookieepedia, I might tell a little bit about myself when it comes to Star Wars. I would ask myself a few basic questions as a guide:
- What can I tell people about myself?
- Why do I love the topic of the wiki?
- What brought me to Wikia and the wiki?
- What have I done that I'm proud of on the wiki?
So let’s put that all together with some answers!
It answers all of the previous questions, and even includes some extras, such as an image of myself—but please refer to the "Stay safe and don't over-share" section of this blog before posting an image of yourself.
That's how I would do it, but that doesn't mean it's how you have to do it. That brings up another point. It’s good to have the page represent the uniqueness of your personality, but you also want to consider what people who land on your page want to know. They're going to be interested in the fact that you've written 30 articles, including 3 that you're especially proud of, and that you have been here for a year. They're probably not going to be as interested in the fact that you know enough about CSS to change your username to bright pink and replace the logo with Hello Kitty. It's cute, but it can also be overkill.
At the same time, though, the best pages are going to be somewhat personalized with a great layout and design — much like a main page. After all, a user page is a main page of you. Just like a main page on a wiki gives an overview of what the wiki is, your user page gives an overview of who you are and gets people interested in your contributions to the wiki.
Like I said before, there are only so many things that most people will be interested in. The article you're most proud of is probably more interesting than flashy designs using your CSS expertise, for example. On that same note, having too much information can also be off-putting, to the point that people are going to skip past it rather than read it. It goes to the age-old Internet meme "tl;dr" which stands for "too long; didn't read." Giant walls of texts, or lists of all of your favorite movies, books, characters, and so forth, may very well be skipped over. You'll have put a lot of work into something, but will anyone read it? That's a question you should ask before writing it all.
There are other ways that you can add more information beyond just your standard user page. Here are a few suggestions:
- Profile. Up at the top of your user page, you have a profile where you can fill in certain sections like where you live, what you do, and a little bit about yourself. You can even link to your Twitter and website up there, and your favorite wikis sections tells people what other kinds of topics you're interested in. As long as you don't give away too much private info, it lets you tell people about yourself without adding it directly to your user page.
- Blogs. Lots of wikis have this feature enabled. Instead of listing all of your favorite characters on your user page, blog about them! That way there's even a dedicated discussion section where other people could list their favorite characters too, or talk about yours. It's a great way to foster discussion.
- Infobox and userboxes. You can see in the image of my user profile on Wookieepedia that I use an infobox to tell a little bit about myself, as well as user boxes. Those are always a great option too! You can learn more about creating infoboxes here and userboxes here.
All of this lets you talk about what you love without bogging down one whole page with it.
Things you should consider
Auto-play music is bad
I can't stress this one enough. Auto-play music is the devil! It irritates most people and is generally considered to be poor Internet decorum. When people are online, they're often listening to music on iTunes or YouTube, or they have their speakers on or loud without realizing it. Suddenly, the theme to My Little Pony plays, and they have no idea where it's coming from and it can be very distracting. Having auto-play music is the surest way to get someone who lands on your page to click the backspace button as fast as they can.
One of the most important things to remember when you're going to write about yourself online is to make sure you stay safe and secure. The people who you interact with online, even if they seem like your friends, may not be who they seem, so there's always a risk of interacting with bad eggs.
One of the best ways to avoid risk is to make sure you limit what you say about yourself. Think very carefully before you share certain pieces of information, such as your real name, a picture of yourself, and where you live, even if someone you feel close to asks you about that. It's OK to say you're not comfortable sharing that, and it's OK to not share that on your user page. No one can force you to say something about yourself. It's better to say less than to say more.
Ultimately, your user page is something that you should enjoy making. I know I said a lot here, but I promise it's not a chore! If it's short and simple and doesn't share too much, or try to look too fancy to the point of it being distracting, then you'll have a great user page. People will know a little more about you, and they may even find some interesting articles and projects on the wiki too!
Have any other tips for how to make a great user page, or examples of some? Sound off in the comments section!
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