Project:How to Start

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Don't be shy

This page is for people who are interested in helping out with the No_Subject but who haven't used a Wiki before and are therefore shy, afraid of "messing something up," etc. The message of this page is that using No_Subject is very easy, and in five minutes you can be creating or adding to a page!

What is a Wiki?

Speaking simply, a "Wiki" is a set of webpages that can be edited by anyone using a web browser. "Wikiwiki" means "fast" in Hawaiian, and speed and ease of use are key features of a Wiki. Wiki pages -- such as the one you are looking at now -- can be edited by any reader just by clicking the "Edit this page" link on the left side of every page. Text and simple code is typed into the edit textbox. When finished, the writer hits "Save page" and the document is saved to a database, and the reader (and everyone else) sees the new webpage immediately. This is far simpler than constructing a webpage using HTML or other webpage coding, and in addition the writer doesn't need their own webpage space, server, etc.

All previous versions of each wiki page are saved in the database, so it is impossible to permanently "mess up" a page. With a few clicks a page can be reverted to a previous version.

Why are Wikis cool?

In addition to being fast, users have found that Wikis are an excellent way to collaborate on large projects. Everyone can contribute their expertise and see the improvements immediately. Users can freely edit each other's writing, which is much more efficient than (for example) emailing suggestions and corrections to an author and waiting for them to make corrections, upload them, etc. The fact that viewing and editing privileges are free and easy encourages many more people to get involved than would be otherwise likely.

Does this really work?

Yes. Amazingly, this "bottom-up" approach, without central guidance or formal reviewers, works rather well. The most spectacular example of a successful Wiki is Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia built by the internet community at large. Wikipedia now has more articles than Encyclopedia Britannica and MS Encarta put together. Quality of course varies, but many articles are quite good, often the best information available on the internet.

Now you know about Wikis, take a look at this page to learn how to edit pages, or this page to find out what sort of articles we're looking for.