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Five Things Every Admin Should Know

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I've given a lot of social advice to admins and to others on Wikia, but today I want to give admins some more practical advice on pages to use and skills to learn. These are the top five areas that I'd suggest any admin learn.

1. Recent changes

Wiki Activity is a useful page for getting an overview of what's going on on a wikia, but it's not the full picture. The full details of what's happening on any community are on Recent Changes. This essential page lists every change on the wikia, including edits on pages that are less often changed, like templates.

RecentChanges5ThingsBlog


For an admin, or for any keen contributor, this page is the starting point for understanding everything that's going on on your community. You can see exactly what pages are being edited, and have links to all the vital information including contribution pages, profiles, and the full logs of all community activities.

A good knowledge of Recent Changes and the links it contains is very important for the skilled admin. For many this is the first page they look at when they get to the wikia, and the one that they go back to time after time as they manage it.

Tip: To see all edits in order without grouping, go to the "under the hood" section of your preferences and remove the checkmark from "Use advanced recent changes"


2. Article Histories

Each article has its own history page. That page shows every edit made to that article, and stores every version that's been created. That means you can not only see exactly what an article was like in the past, but you can go back to any of them if there are problem edits. There is nothing a vandal can do to damage these stored versions, so you can always take the article back to a good version if someone damages it.

RecentChanges5ThingsBlog


Tip: To see a version in full, click on the date for that version on the history page. Edit the old version and save to put an article back to where it was at that time.


3. Contribution pages

Just like articles, each contributor has their own "history" page. This lists all the edits and other actions they have made. To find it, go to the person's profile or message wall, and click the "contributions" tab under the profile masthead.

User contributions5ThingsBlog


The time when this is most useful to an admin is when the user has been vandalizing articles or uploading problem images. With this list of all their contributions, you can easily work down the page reverting or deleting as needed. It's a good way to make sure you have found all the problems and cleaned them up. And there's a handy block link at the top too!

Tip: for information about deleted contributions, click the "deleted user contributions" link at the top of a contributions page.


4. Diffs

"Diffs" is short for "differences". These are pages that will show you exactly what someone has changed in their edit. You can find diff links on Recent Changes, on contribution pages, and in the history of each article (as "prev" links). Just click on "diff" to see what changed from one edit to the next.

Diff5ThingsBlog


Diffs show two versions of an article side-by-side. The older one is on the left, with the newer on the right. By looking for highlighted areas, you can see exactly what has been changed, and decide whether the edit is a good one, or something you need to revert.

VandalismScreenshotPreAdoptBlog


Tip: Experiment with the radio buttons on history pages, to see how you can compare several changes at once. This is useful when someone has done a series of edits and you want to see the full effect.


5. Rollback

I've talked about how you can revert back to a specific version of an article, but sometimes it's even easier than that. If the bad edit is the most recent one on the article, then look for a "rollback" link. It's only available to admins and rollbacks, and is a super-fast way of removing recent vandalism. Just click on the link to remove the edits by the last contributor, and take the article back to the version of the editor before.

Rollback5ThingsBlog


This doesn't work if the last edit isn't the bad one, and it doesn't work if there are two or more problem editors on the same article. But in many cases you can simply work your way down a contributions list clicking the rollback links as you go. This tiny feature is actually one of the most important on wikias because it makes it easier to fix vandalism than it is to create it. Meaning admins have an advantage in cleaning up any problem edits.

Tip: If you work down a list opening up a new tab for each rollback link using Ctrl+click on Windows, or Command+click on a mac, it speeds up the process even more.


Wikia has many tools and masses of information to help you look after your wikia, these are just a few that every admin should know. It's worth spending some time experimenting with them so that you are familiar with them when you need them.

What pages do you find essential for your editing or admining life?

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