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Questions not answered in HowDoesOneEditaPage, WhatIsaWiki, WhatsaWikiFor, WhyOnEarthWouldIWantToContributeToaWiki, WhatsTheRelationshipBetweenWikipediaAndNupedia, or HowCanIExploreWikiPedia. See also WikiPediaProcess for discussion of unsettled and unsettling questions about Wikipedia.
Q. When did the WikiPedia start?

A. January 15, 2001. An earlier version of the wiki (including original versions of some of these pages) was briefly hosted on Nupedia.com (first posted January 10). The idea of a Nupedia-sponsored wiki originated out of a conversation LarrySanger had with BenKovitz? on the evening of January 2.

Q. This is a wiki, anyone with a browser can edit any page. This is not true of either print or on-line encyclopediae. With a non-editable encyclopedia I can be reasonably sure who wrote what I'm reading, can check their credentials, and form an opinion regarding their reliability. I can't do any of those things with WikiPedia. Why then would I give any credence to anything I read here?

A. You should not give credence to anything you read here.

Less flippantly, you should realize that this is, quite self-consciously, an experiment in public collaboration quite unlike any print or online encyclopedia, and therefore it will be difficult to project the results, in terms of their credibility, until the project is farther along. But even then, you'll have to judge the results based on the articles themselves, rather than the credentials of their writers (which is itself often an unreliable way to determine credibility, as you know).

Q. Which languages are--from a technical or a social point of view--desirable?

A. From a technical point of view, wiki doesn't care what language the page is in. But since English is the language we started with, if you start writing in other languages, there are apt to be competing versions of the same content in different languages. But, for example, perhaps at the bottom of my ThomasReid page you could put a link to ThomasReidDe?, and include a German translation of the page. Just a thought. (Might not be worth it!)

Q. Can you delete a page from the wiki? Especially your own?

A. Yes, in fact you can. Consideration for others demands that you exercise extreme caution in doing so, if the page in question isn't one that you started, or is one to which many others have contributed something of interest. But strictly speaking there's nothing stopping you: all you have to do is remove the text from the page. You can also click on the name of the page (at the top of the page) to see what other pages link to the deleted page, and delete links to it. Again, extreme caution is advised...

And make use of the BadJokesAndOtherDeletedNonsense page.

Q. If you delete all the text from a Page does it become a PaGe? again?

A. If you delete all the text on a Page, the page remains as a PaGe. It does not go back to PaGe?.

Q. Can you add Nupedia articles to Wikipedia?

A. CanWeAddNupediaArticlesToTheWiki? Sure.

Q. Can we link to Nupedia Pages that are not articles, say the Pronunciation Guides or part of the Guidelines, for example?

A. Yes, why not? You can link to anything you want. You can either type the URL in directly, or else in this format: [URL nameofpage]. This results in a link like this: [Nupedia.com].

Q. I'm lame and I don't want to contribute anything, but that uncommon capitalization is bugging me. What's the deal? WhyIsEveryThingOnThePageLikeThis?

A. Uncommon capitalizations signify hyperlinks! If you were interesting in contributing, you would have read the HowDoesOneEditaPage section,and learned this there.

Q. Yeah, but why? I read the HowDoesOneEditaPage section. I understand that I have to use uncommon capitalizations to create a link. What's the purpose?

A. You got me. I think it was Ward Cunningham's invention as part of his original wiki. It's part of the software, for which we aren't responsible. We might, of course, change this (obligating us to relabel zillions of links, but no matter).

Q. Is someone keeping regular backups of this site? What if I write a great article and some clod shows up and nukes it? I'd like some assurance that my efforts aren't going to waste.

A. Well, you probably shouldn't post to this site! Contribute to [Nupedia] instead! Here, there's nothing to stop clods from nuking great articles... but the site does keep previous versions of pages (see the "View other revisions" link at the bottom of this page). Feel free to reinstate previous master works if the current version of a page disappoints you (but who knows - you might even be a clod and not know it!). And yes, we are keeping backups of the server itself. For more discussion see [this discussion of "wiki wipeouts."]

Q. Is this safe? I mean, I could start defaming people. Then the legal implications of this could become a problem to the provider of this service.

A. Good question. Why not write on TheLegalImplicationsOfWikis? (It's probably already been done on [Ward Cunningham's original wiki].)

Q. What's the point of getting a user number?

A. It's not required, but it allows you to tell wiki to save your settings and thereby have Wikipedia be displayed in the same way each time you return. It also credits you with changes you make, instead of a meaningless IP number.

Q. Is the words/articles/items OpenContent? What is the license agreement on the contents of WikiPedia?

A. The contents of the WikiPedia is covered by the GNUFreeDocumentationLicense.

Q. Is there any way to learn about changes to certain topics without having to go there from time to time?

A. Yes, click on the RecentChanges link at the top and bottom of every page.

Q. Can a hit counter be implemented on a WikiWiki page?

A. Sure, the PowersthatBe simply have to make it happen.

Q. This is very weird. On OntOlogy, when using the name "AristotlE" as a possessive, in the first paragraph I wrote "AristotlE", followed by five single quote marks, followed by "s". This produced "Aristotle's" (with an upper case "e"). In the next paragraph, when I wanted to produce the same effect, I wrote the exact same thing, and instead of producing "Aristotle's" (with an upper case "e"), WikiWiki emboldened the whole paragraph after that point. Instead, what I found I had to do was write "AristotlE", followed by just one single quote mark, followed by "s". So why didn't what worked in the first paragraph also work in the second paragraph?

A. The single-quote forms of bold and italic formatting do not always do what you'd expect when they are nested. If you are doing special forms of formatting, you may want to use the <i> and <b> tags like <i>this will be italic</i> and <b>this will be bold</b>. These tag-based forms are much easier to use than trying to remember whether to use 4, 5, or 6 single-quotes. You can also use the tag-based forms over multiple lines of text, although this should be used sparingly.

Could you reproduce the problem in the SandBox page? I'll take a closer look to see if there was a bug or simply an unexpected rendering in this case. --CliffordAdams

Done! By the way, I thought HTML italic and bold tags didn't work on this wiki software. At least, I seem to remember them being displayed a week or two ago. Also, another example can be found in the first paragraph of SemanticDispute. One can't use two sets of four single quote marks in the same paragraph, it seems. -- LarrySanger

Bold and italic tags work, along with the <tt> and <pre> tags. Most other tags don't work in the wiki--many of them are unnecessary (like paragraph or list tags) or difficult to allow safely. (Many tags can be misused with Javascript.) Some tags will be added in future versions. (I've already added em, strong, and code tags.)

The problem in the page you quoted is that the five single-quotes after AristotlE were matched by the five single-quotes after SeT (at the end of the paragraph). The single-quote formatting was never really meant to be used for separating page names from trailing letters. (It was a recently-discovered quirk of wiki formatting.)

This wiki has a special feature for separating wiki page links (or any other kind of link) from trailing letters. You can type SeT""s to get SeTs, LoGic""s for LoGics, etc. Just add two double-quote characters immediately after the link and it will be removed in the output. (The two-double-quote convention was chosen since it is easy to type, but is unlikely to be used accidentally.) Note that the two double-quotes are only special if they immediately follow a link--simply typing "" in ordinary text will display two double-quotes.

I hope that the need for these conventions will disappear soon, as I'm working on new ways to form wiki links. (See WhichWikiShouldWeUse for details.) --CliffordAdams

Q. Is there a wiki spell check of sorts? For things as; InTernet?, InterNet?, InterneT?. Several pages could inadvertently be created on the same subject.

A. You can use the search feature to find similar pages. (The search is not case-sensitive, so a search for "internet" would find any of the pages above.)

Q. It appears that starting today, if you go to RecentChanges and click on the name to the right of a page, that is, a contributor who has identified him/herself as making the change, you get Invalid Page wiki.cgi. Why?

A. The changes to the code to use /pagename rather than ?pagename appear to have been incomplete. See WikiPediaBugs for more information and discussion.

Q. I am asking this again, because I do not feel I recieved an adequate answer, last time. To write pages on Math, the authors need to be able to include a large number of math symbols, graphs, etc. This is not a question of linking to someone else's images. These are items we need to be able to use freely and in our own original way. It would require, at present, uploading the content to one's own websites, assuming we have them ,and linking to this. For example, to discuss differentiation and integration in Calculus, one needs to have: an Integral sign, a summmation sign, a symbolism for limits, etc. Somehow, writing, the limit of sin(x)/x as x goes to infinity, just doesn't cut it. Already we are all missing the small epsilon for "belongs to," the symbol for "is a subset of," and many more in the Abstract Algebra entries. I think this will impede the addition of much material in the Math area.

A. This is a difficult problem. Part of the problem is that html web pages don't do math symbols very well at all. So almost any solution will be a crutch. Within the next couple of years, browsers should be able to render MathML?. This will be a time of much joy. Between now and then, I'm open to suggestions, but I think this is a really hard problem.

A2. You can send to jasonr at aristotle.bomis.com any tiny image you would like uploaded to the Wikipedia server. You could then use that tiny image in your articles!

Q. Is there any reason why we can't do what is described just above under A2? Or any reason to think this is a bad idea? Also, what will the code look like-- simply /likethis.gif, or what?

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Last edited February 13, 2001 8:05 am by cobrand.bomis.com (diff)