One of the primary resources of the Ubuntu-ZA local community (LoCo) team is its website, http://www.ubuntu-za.org/ which is a Wiki. Using a wiki website is easy and enables the whole community to collaborate, but if you haven’t seen one in action before it may be a bit intimidating. So here’s what you need to know, to get involved!
What is a Wiki?
To compare web pages to disks, normal websites are read-only – like a CD. You as a user can’t make any changes to the site. A wiki on the other hand is like a hard drive or CD-RW – it is read-write. Any user can edit existing content, or add new pages.
Wikipedia (itself a wiki) has a good definition of a wiki, including:
A wiki is a website that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change available content, typically without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring.
How does it work?
Every page has an “Edit” link in the sidebar on the right. Clicking this lets you edit the source for the page. Instead of using HTML for formatting, you just enter your text, and use markup – simple text conventions – for formatting. For example, this:
This is an ”interesting” ”’page”’.
* Bullet point
This is an interesting page.
- Bullet point
One of the powerful features of a wiki is the ease of linking to other pages. Any word written with capitals at the start and in the middle, LikeThis, becomes a link to the page with that URL. The page doesn’t have to exist yet – to create it, simply follow this link to the non-existant page and you will be prompted to create the page.
So if you type “MembersList” you automatically get a link to the page http://www.ubuntu-za.org/Wiki/MembersList.
In the spirit of cooperation, you can freely link to pages that don’t exist, in the hope/belief that somebody else will (eventually) create those pages with useful information.
So if you want to mention the UbuntuBloggersInSouthAfrica or SuccessStoriesInLocalGovernment, simply join your words together and if you are feeling up to it, write the actual page you are linking to – or simply leave that as an exercise to the reader!
Who can contribute? How?
Anybody can simply click “Edit” on any page and make a change. Please use the Preview button to check that your markup looks good before clicking Save Changes. Giving a comment about the change you’ve just made does help others in knowing what, or more importantly why you’ve changed the page.
You can edit without a login, but if you want to participate please do sign up – just click Login which takes you to the UserPreferences page where you can either login as an existing user (by just giving your username and password) or create a new user (by filling in all the fields). This helps us to see who has edited a page.