Mw:Project:PD help

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Help pages are released without copyrights (public domain)

Project:PD help, is a project to create a set of concise user help pages for MediaWiki users, i.e. for visitors to a website which is powered by MediaWiki. The project covers all content in the Help namespace. The main entry point for this is Help:Contents.

This help documentation is separate from the Project:Manual (The GFDL licensed MediaWiki administrators manual) Contributors please be clear about the differences! The PD help pages do not contain information for server administrators, about how to install, configure, or maintain MediaWiki software. See the 'Goals' below, for a detailed statement of what we are trying to achieve.

Security Please do not copy and paste content from Meta-Wiki's Help pages in here. They were written under the GFDL and are not in the public domain.

Language: [[::Mw:Project:PD help|English]]


The idea is to provide a set of pages which can be copied into a fresh wiki installation, or included in the mediawiki distribution. This will include basic user information and other Meta information, in a reasonably concise form. The basic concept is to create a compressed user guide, not a reference work. It should focus on what users want and not explain other functions.


Contributions to the PD Help are released as public domain (rather than the usual GNU Free Documentation License). This is necessary in order to allow people to easily copy the text into their own wiki installations. Please ensure you understand the following before contributing:

  • Every page in the PD Help must contain the line {{PD Help Page}} to indicate the license.
  • No content can be copied from elsewhere into these pages, except if you are the author or have permission from the authors. Content that is already public domain can be copied here, but this does NOT include most web pages!
  • You are relinquishing all rights to the information you contribute here. Although you will continue to have your contributions listed and attributed on this site, others can copy the text without giving credit, and can modify it as they see fit.

Target readership - Normal users

The help pages are very much targeted at normal visitors to a wiki website.

Not server administrators

We are not aiming to duplicate the full MediaWiki documentation. Information targeted at server administrators, detailing installation, configuration or maintenance of MediaWiki, belongs in the Manual.

The only small exception to this is the 'Admin tips' boxes (described below).

Information for sysop / bureaucrat users less prominent

The help pages would not be complete, without also describing what 'sysop' users can do, however these more advanced features are not available to majority of a target audience (the majority of wiki users). As such, we should keep this information a little bit separate, so that normal users are not confronted with information which is not relevant to them. Within the bulk of the Help pages we will make brief mentions of things which require sysop privileges, but detailed descriptions of sysop procedures should be tucked away on less prominently linked pages, or should be left out of the Help pages altogether.

This section is under discussion

Editorial guidelines

  • Create links between the pages, but avoid linking to other namespaces on Keep the links internal to the public domain help pages, or make external links (full URL) to relevant resources e.g. on This is to facilitate easier copying of the text into fresh wiki installations. Do not use interwiki links as these may not exist in the target wiki.
  • We probably don't want to swap in the {{SITENAME}} syntax anywhere. MediaWiki is the name of the software we are describing. This is the software that powers the destination wiki, so anywhere where our text is referring to the software (everywhere throughout help) it should be left as a literal string "MediaWiki". If for some reason the help text is mentioning the name of the site, then this would be an appropriate exception (use {{SITENAME}}), but we are not going to swap this in everywhere where we mention the word MediaWiki.
  • Translations should be done after the English version of a page has reached a stable status. The naming convention is Pagetitle/language-code.
  • Unless you have the perfect solution for navigation in this manual, please refrain from creating navigation templates and create content first.
  • Do not use extensions such as Extension:Cite, since they are not installed on all MediaWiki installations.


  • Formatting should be consistent. Use {{Prettytable}} for any tables you create, highlight cells or rows with {{Hl1}} etc. (see Template talk:Prettytable)
  • All wiki markup and code should be put in <code> or <pre> tags. Help for inserting: {{subst:nw|text}}.
  • All references to menu texts and descriptions should appear in italic.

Screenshot Images

There is some discussion about whether we want screenshot images on the help pages. See the talk page here, and also Project:Current issues#MW Screenshots - Image license

Screenshots are deprecated until this is decided. i.e. don't add any more, but don't delete the existing ones.

Advantages of screenshot images

  • An image says more than words. For friendly user help, it is important to provide illustrations.
  • Some users are visual learners. Images help to include them.
  • Images help users locate things on the screen.
  • Images provide feedback by matching what's on the screen with the screenshot.

Disadvantages of screenshot images

  • MediaWiki has a built-in import/export feature, but this doesn't work with images.
  • Licensing issues. Can MediaWiki screenshots be licensed PD?
  • We can get by without them. Nothing we describe in the help pages requires an image to illustrate.
  • Images increase overall file size.
  • Layout/colour differences between the installation (+selected skin) and the screenshots may be confusing.

Admin tips

If something in Help can be configured by a server administrator, you can insert an admin tip with {{Admin tip|tip=text}}.


All pages in the "Help:" namespace are by definition part of this public domain Help documentation project and should be categorized Category:Help if they are in English, the default language for, or if not in English then Category:Help/fr (French), Category:Help/de (German), etc.

The former category for pages in the "Help:" namespace, this public domain Help documentation project, was Category:PD Help. In keeping with simplicity the category is now simply Category:Help and all pages have been updated.

See also

  • Project:Language policy if you are interested in working on non-English versions of the help pages.
  • /export/ discusses a proposed method of creating usable dumps of the Help: namespace. This is still at the discussion stage and is not yet functional.
  • /mirroring/ discusses an alternative method of getting content from which can be used in the interim.