In this course, we will review the necessary technical functions needed to run a wiki community. A few topics we will cover include how to review edits to the wiki, how to block a user, how to use some of the Special Pages on the wiki, and plenty more. The Fandom platform allows for all users, technically savvy or not, to dip their feet into creating a wiki and building a community via creator tools. As an admin, it is important to have a basic understanding of what technical tools are available on Fandom as well as how and when to use them. These tools can sometimes break a wiki and damage the community if not used correctly, but if used appropriately, they can help a community flourish.
Course Video & Quiz
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Welcome to Admin Plus!
We at Fandom are excited to welcome you to our Admin Plus series (or A+, if you’re fancy.) This series will review three core foundations of helping to facilitate a wiki community on the Fandom platform. These foundations are Technical Foundations, Content Development, and Community Building. After you have completed this course, go check out the other two!
In this course, we will review the necessary technical functions needed to run a wiki community. A few topics we will cover include how to review edits to the wiki, how to block a user, how to use some of the Special Pages on the wiki, and plenty more.
The Fandom platform allows for all users, technically savvy or not, to dip their feet into creating a wiki and building a community via creator tools. As an admin, it is important to have a basic understanding of what technical tools are available on Fandom as well as how and when to use them. These tools can sometimes break a wiki and damage the community if not used correctly, but if used appropriately, they can help a community flourish.
This course will be giving insight into what basic technical tools are available. For some people, this might be review. If it is, that’s okay! Hopefully, the review will still help you and your community create an awesome wiki.
A quick reminder before we jump in: for the sake of brevity, you will hear “your community” and “your wiki” a lot in this course and in the other courses, as well. We want to remind you that a wiki does not belong to a single person or even to the original founder. A wiki belongs to the community, the group of regular users who visit, edit, and interact with the wiki. As an admin, you help run the wiki and make sure that the community is working together for the benefit of the community.
We welcome all members of our community to watch these videos and learn how to best contribute to their communities.
Please be aware that Fandom awards badges of completion only to admins who have served in an admin role for at least 90 days and manage wikis that are 100 pages or larger. While the background and information we cover here today is critical information, we believe a mix of this information and real-world adminning experience best qualify someone for recognition.
Badges are awarded to eligible admins via a third-party service called Credly. More information about how Credly works and awards badges of completion to admins are available on our A+ homepage.
Hi, I'm Dylan as known as DToast. I joined Fandom in 2021 as a Community Manager for technical safety. My favorite wikis are The Elder Scrolls wiki, Fallout wiki, and Star Wars wiki. I believe birds aren’t real and that Napoleon being short was British propaganda.
Now, let’s get started with an introduction by our keynote speaker, Daniel Grunwell, or as we all know him, Grunny. After years as a Fandom user and administrator, Grunny began to work for Fandom in 2010. He is now our Vice President of Engineering.
<GRUNNY'S INTRODUCTION AVAILABLE IN THE VIDEO>
Thank you, Grunny!
Let’s start at the very foundation of how your community works: The core software. At the time of this course, Fandom uses two technologies to power differing parts of your community - MediaWiki and Feeds.
While these two softwares co-exist on your community it’s important to know how and where they are different because tools that exist on one do not exist - or look completely different - on the other.
MediaWiki is a highly-developed, open-source content management system that is specifically tailored to crowdsourcing communities, the first and most famous of which is Wikipedia. Here are some key concepts and tools that MediaWiki is best known for:
- An interface that allows editing a wiki’s content
- Namespaces to help separate and prioritize content
- Magic words to help construct information
- User-defined categories to help collect content into various lists
MediaWiki powers all of the written content elements of the wiki.
The premise that MediaWiki offers that is unique to other similar softwares - such as WordPress or Joomla - is that it is designed to let anyone edit and contribute, not just the website owner.
To make this happen, wikis have editor interfaces. There are two ways to edit a wiki on Fandom - source and visual.
Source mode accepts written content marked up using special punctuation marks. For example, if you put three apostrophes on either side of a word, that word will become bold when the page is saved. A page name wrapped on either side by two square brackets will become a link. This markup format is called “wikitext”. Wikitext allows editors to do a lot of cool things and sometimes it can get quite complicated, like when you have a nested template.
If you’ve been an admin for a long time on our network, chances are you’re pretty familiar with wikitext. If you’re newer to Fandom, you may not. And that’s fine - Like any sort of language, wikitext takes time to learn and become intuitive.
If you’re still learning wikitext or just prefer a simpler experience, our visual editor is also available. Like other “What You See Is What You Get” software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can do all the formatting you need to bold a word or make a link by clicking buttons that do the markup for you. The other advantage of using a Visual Editor is that you should know exactly how the page will look when you save it.
You can also switch back and forth between Source and Visual modes. It’s a great way to learn wikitext and/or a great way to see how the visual page will look to a reader.
Like most software, MediaWiki periodically updates in order to implement new features, fix bugs, and increase speed and performance. While Fandom does not upgrade our wikis the day a new version is released, we consistently monitor releases and periodically jump ahead a few versions. We will handle upgrades for you - there is no action needed by administrators.
You can learn about what components of MediaWiki are installed on your wiki and what version you are running on by going to Special:Version on your wiki. You can also visit mediawiki.org to learn more about this very powerful and expansive software.
The other core technology our communities use is Feeds. Feeds powers four elements of the community - Discussions, Article Comments, User Message Walls, and Blogs.
Discussions is your wiki's social space where community members can talk about the wiki's topic as well as the wiki itself. It's a great place to get a quick overview of what is going on in the community. Discussions is available on desktop web, mobile web, and the Fandom app.
Any logged-in user can participate in Discussions. Start a new post by choosing one of the options at the top of the feed if you are on desktop, or tapping the icon in the bottom right corner of the screen on mobile. You can use Discussions to create polls. For more information on polls, see Help:Polls in Discussions. You can also reply to any post of any type that has already been made.
Discussions and the other Feeds tools use a lightweight, visual editor. Most wiki markup (template, for example) are currently not supported. Other things, like at mentions, are available in Feeds that are not available in the MediaWiki pages.
Local wiki admins and discussions moderators, as well as Fandom's Global Discussions moderators, have specific tools that help them manage Discussions. Posts can be locked to prevent any new replies, which can be pretty useful if a discussion has gone off topic. The Lock Post and Unlock Post options can be found by hovering over the menu icon in the top-right corner of a post. Locked posts show a notice at the top of the post, but users can see view the post, and the post can still be upvoted.
Posts and replies can be deleted through the Delete Post or Delete Reply option in the same menu as above. Deleted posts and replies cannot be seen by general users, but they can be viewed by discussions moderators and admins, as well as certain global user rights groups. They appear with a notice marked by a red triangle and the username of the mod or admin who deleted the content.
Deleted posts and replies can be undeleted by clicking the green trash can icon at the top-right or by clicking the Undelete Post or Undelete Reply menu option.
Every user has a Discussions profile, accessible by clicking or tapping that user's avatar next to one of their contributions in Discussions. On desktop and mobile web, mods and admins will also see a Delete all posts option in a menu to the upper-right of the user's avatar. This will delete all of the user's Discussions posts and replies, allowing for quick cleanup from spam accounts. Be careful - there is no "undelete all" option. Reversing this Delete all action requires undeleting every post and reply individually!
All users, including mods and admins, can report a post or reply to signal that content needs reviewing. Reported posts appear to mods, admins, and the reporter with a notice marked by an orange triangle and the username of the reporter. Mods and admins will see a green checkmark icon and a red trash can icon in the reported content's top banner. Clicking the green checkmark will simply remove the report, "approving" the content. Clicking the red trash can will delete the post.
Mods and admins can access a view that shows all currently-reported content, allowing for quick review. Adding /f/reported directly after the domain name will send the user to the reported view. A link is also available on desktop (on the left sidebar) and mobile web (tapping the More dropdown in the header). The Fandom app does not currently have a reported view.
On that reported dashboard, admins can also click the link to view and update the Discussions rules and guidelines so that all visitors have an understanding of what is and is not permitted on the community Discussions space.
Users can be blocked from Discussions using the same interface as the MediaWiki part of the wiki.
One of the most important functions for an admin is to review user activity on the wiki - it's moderation time! Moderation can include checking new pages, making sure new users are following policies, and catching and reverting vandalism or spam. Thankfully, all changes are logged on the wiki, so it isn’t too difficult to quickly find these changes.
The main page to check activity on a wiki is Special:RecentChanges. This dashboard will show all changes on a wiki. You can also customize certain elements to help you do actions faster.
Let’s go over a quick guide on how to use RecentChanges.
You will see a letter before the actual page that was changed: N shows that the page is a new page, m means that the person who edited the pages marked the change as a minor edit, and b signifies that the page was edited by a bot. If there is no letter before the page name, that means it was a normal edit. (Don’t forget to give it a quick check, though!)
The page name is listed on each line as well as links to the most recent version of the page, image, or file. You will also see a timestamp before the page name, and this will be shown in the time zone you have chosen in your preferences.
The positive or negative numbers after the page name show many characters were added to or removed from the old page. This can give you a quick glance as to how much the page was changed since the last edit.
The italic comment inside the parentheses is the edit summary of the edit - a small comment explaining how someone changed a page. For example, if the editor cleaned up some typos on a page, they could leave a quick “typos” as the edit summary. Edit summaries can be extremely beneficial not only to moderation but helping other editors understand the edits of others. Leaving an edit summary is optional, so some users will leave this blank. We recommend giving some direction in your wiki’s editing rules about what is expected in edit summaries to make sure all users have a clear understanding of what they should include with their edits.
Some wikis have patrolling - this will show a red exclamation mark on each line on RecentChanges until the change is approved. This is pretty useful for wikis with multiple admins and a lot of activity because admins will be able to see edits still need to be reviewed.
Some activities that are not edits, like deletion, uploading, or moving a page will be shown on a log, which is then linked on RecentChanges parentheses with the word log at the end.
You can also use the filters at the top of the page to, well, filter what appears on your RecentChanges page. For example, bot edits are taken out from RecentChanges by default, but you can use a checkbox on the “Active Filters” section to show bot edits. You can also filter changes down to see activity only on a specific namespace. If you haven’t tried it yet, try playing around with the filters to see what works best for you, your moderation style, and your wiki.
Here are some other similar tools you may find helpful.
Special:Logs is where you can view a feed of all various non-editing actions across the wiki. The main page of Special:Logs will show you all the logs, but you can also filter the logs down to see only certain actions, such as the deletion log, upload log, and block log.
Special:NewPages and Special:NewFiles is a similar type of page, one that shows you a list or gallery of only the newest pages added to the wiki, not existing pages that have been edited.
Another useful tool when moderating is a page’s history, a tool that shows all activity on a single page. Like RecentChanges, let’s do a quick review.
When looking at the history page, you will see the newest changes at the top, and clicking on a date will show you that specific version of the page. You can click “cur” to compare an old version with the version. Also, clicking “prev” will show a comparison between the current version and the version that immediately came before it. You can compare two versions on a page by selecting the radio button in the left column of the older version and the radio button in the right column of the newer version then click “Compare selected revisions.”
Being able to revert edits on a page is one of the most important tools in an admin’s arsenal while moderating, and you can revert multiple edits through the page history.
To do so, go to the history of the page and click on the time and date of the version you want to revert to. This will show that specific revision as well as a notification below the page’s title letting you know that you’re viewing the “Revision as of…” Check to make sure you have the revision that you need, then you can click on “Edit” as normal. The edit box will give a warning about editing an out-of-date revision, but for the task at hand, this is exactly what you want. Save the page to complete the revert. Don’t forget to leave an edit summary and mention that you’re reverting the page and why.
To help with reverting vandalism, admins, content moderators, and any user with rollback rights will see an “rollback” link on the history, diff., and user contributions pages. This is more of an automated version of the usual Undo option, which will revert all consecutive edits by the most recent user back to the last edit by a different user.
The rollback link is pretty simple to use - just click on the link, and the article will automatically revert to the last edit from a different user. An edit summary will be automatically added noting the rollback, and the edit will be marked as minor.
Again, this should be used for reverting vandalism, and that’s about it. It shouldn’t be used to revert an edit that you don’t agree with. With the built-in automation it has, using the rollback link implies that the original edit was made in bad faith and doesn't leave the opportunity to explain in an edit summary.
Side note: if you’re not sure what we mean by “bad faith”, go take a look at the Admin+ course called Community Building - we go over the differences between good faith and bad faith there.
Speaking of bad faith, it is time to move onto blocking! Some people also refer to this banning, but we’ll use the term blocking here for the sake of consistency.
Admins can block registered and anonymous users from a wiki. Doing this will prevent them from editing, but they will still be able to read articles, and you cannot block them from doing so. Admins can also choose to restrict a registered user’s ability to use their Message Wall or Talk page.
Every community needs to have their own blocking rules set up, and rights holders need to block bad faith users according to these rules fairly. Take a look over at the Wiki Rules and Blocking Policy page on Central to read more about what kinds of rules you should include on your wiki. (For example, a rule saying “you’ll be blocked if you edit a page!” isn’t going to be okay.)
Before running to block someone from the community, try to keep a few things in mind. It’s important to consider if there was good faith behind an edit or if there was malicious intent (like, vandalism or intentionally putting in false information.) New users often make typos or guideline mistakes at first. Instead of blocking, try to send a quick warning and educate users making poor edits in good faith.
If you are sure the edit was in bad faith, and you need to block the user, here’s how to do it. You can block a user through Special:Block. First enter the username or IP address of the person you want to block and select an expiry time. Blocks are usually best kept as short as possible, and the block time should match what is written in your wiki’s rules. You can also customize the block time by typing it in the blocks. Next, enter a reason for the block. If a reason that matches the situation isn’t an option in the drop-down, type it into the below box. Remember that the reason will be public! Stay away from insults, and try to keep it clear, informative, and polite.
An IP block will block any and all users with that IP, whether they are logged in or not. Remember that IPs can be shared and they change often. You can leave logged in users unaffected by an IP block by leaving the box “Prevent logged-in users from editing from this IP address” in the bottom section of the block page unchecked.
If a logged-in user is blocked, they can try to get around the block by logging out and editing anonymously. To prevent this, you can set the block to include the IP address that the logged-in user is using by checking the “Automatically block the last IP address used by this user, and any subsequent IPs they try to edit from.” box. You can also prevent the blocked user from editing their Message Wall by selecting the “Prevent this user from posting on their Message Wall while blocked” option.
Finally, you can complete the block by clicking “Block this user.”
Note that this interface only blocks users. Perhaps there is certain content you want to block - certain words or phrases that you feel do not belong on your wiki.
There are a few mechanisms Fandom has to help with that - most notably a MediaWiki extension called AbuseFilter. We would suggest you write into Special:Contact to explain the problem and work with our staff on finding what solution fits best for the problem you’re facing.
Let’s move on to talking about some more Special Pages. We already walked you through one of the most important Special Pages, Recent Changes, the tool that allows you to review all editing activity in your community.
Now, let’s take a quick dive into some other Special Pages that are important to your admin role. First, though, what is a Special Page? Let’s check off that question on our list before moving on.
Special Pages are tools and reports that come with the MediaWiki software and help with wiki management. Special Pages always begin with the prefix “Special:”, making them pretty easy to find. Because they are automatically generated when a wiki is created, you do not need to create them yourself.
You can see a list of Special Pages by visiting Special:SpecialPages on your wiki. This will show every Special tool available, and any page that is bolded means that only certain users (usually admins) can access the page or tool.
One of these pages that is particularly useful for you as an admin is Special:AdminDashboard. This is a central resource for wiki admins and provides easy access to important things to help you take care of your wiki.
One of the tools listed at the top of the Admin Dashboard is Theme Designer, which allows you to customize the overall appearance of your community, including a light and dark more. It is so incredibly important to keep accessibility and other elements of design in mind as you create and change the wiki’s appearance. We cover those more in depth in the Admin+ Community Building module, so please take a look there to find out more.
The Theme Designer interface is intentionally designed to allow you to play around with and get a live preview. You can change the wordmark, favicon, background color or image, and link colors. Don’t forget to save the changes at the bottom of the designers to have them go live on the wiki. If you want to revert the theme change, you can do so with the history option at the bottom.
Another tool you will see in the AdminDashboard is a link to Analytics. This unique dashboard will give a lot of really good insights on how your wiki is doing with readers, or people coming to your wiki to consume wiki content. First up in the analytics dashboard, you will see pageviews. You will also be able to see what countries your readers are coming from, what the most viewed pages are, what devices and internet browsers your readers are using to view the wiki, number of edits per day, edits from logged in editors versus logged out editors, top search terms, and finally, what percentage of your visitors are new visitors versus returning visitors.
We give you this information to help you make good content and organization decisions for your wiki. For example, if you see that readers are searching for a specific keyword that you know only has a stub article, you may want to expand that article and give it a little more love.
One important thing we always stress to admins is to pay close attention to mobile versus desktop traffic. As a lot of us can guess, more people visit wikis on their mobile phone, which has a stripped down CSS experience and much smaller screen space to display tables. It is important to constantly check any changes you or any editor makes in both a mobile and desktop experience to make sure that content is portable, or easily rendered on multiple sizes of screens.
Let’s do some brief introductions on some of the other tools you’ll see in the Admin Dashboard.
You can change the top navigation (or, top nav) via Admin Dashboard. These are the dropdown navigation menus that appear near the top of your wiki. We cover a few navigation tips and tricks in our Admin+ Content Development module, so head over there if you’d like to learn more about the tool. You can also read the Help:Navigation article on Community Central.
A link to the community description can also be found here on the dashboard. This is the place for you to write how you want your community described to anyone searching for content on the Fandom network.
The User List is a tool that allows you to see which registered users are contributing to the wiki, with the number of edits, and their most recent activity timestamped. You can also view a list of just administrators or other rights holders on the wiki.
And speaking of your other rights holders, if you have the bureaucrat right, you can promote people to new positions on the wiki using the User Rights tool. It is extremely important to understand what permissions you are giving to other users with this tool. User rights come with major responsibilities on a wiki, and they should only be given to long time, trusted users on your wiki. Each wiki needs to have some sort of system in place to review someone for an admin role before being promoted. (You will sometimes hear this referred to as a “pathway to adminship.”) Within that pathway, we recommend including the wiki community in a decision involving possibly promoting someone. Whether that be by a discussion, a community vote, or anything else, whatever works for your community as long as it’s documented down on the wiki.
Other rights you can change in the UserRights tool are Content-Moderator (or, users with the ability to do basic article moderation tasks like rollback or deletion), Thread Moderator (users who can perform admin-type tasks on Discussion), and Rollback (which unlocks the ability to use the rollback tool we talked about earlier.) Other rights, like Wiki Representative or Staff, are only able to be changed by members of Fandom staff.
Now, heading back to the Admin Dashboard, you can also connect to the announcement tool. This allows you to send important messages to the community via an announcement that will appear on the bottom left corner of the page. Remember to include both a brief description for the text (100 characters or less!) as well as a destination URL so people can get more information.
You will also see a link to Fandom’s help pages in the Admin Dashboard. If you would like more information on anything we’ve covered here today, head over to the help pages to get more detail.
As an admin, you have a lot of options for how to customize and make technical changes to your wiki. However, some changes require a staff request, like adding extra namespaces, for example. The most common request staff can help with is adding extensions to your wiki. Extensions are add-ons to the base MediaWiki software that can turn certain bits of code into unique ways to view or organize content.
Some of MediaWiki’s most popular extensions, such as ParserFunctions and Math, are already available. Other ones, like Variables, DynamicPageList, or the Recent Changes patrol, will need to be requested. Again, you will be able to see what extensions are already installed on your wiki by going to Special:Version.
In some certain circumstances, staff can change the actual name of your wiki or the URL. We recommend not doing this too much because making changes like this can affect your wiki’s findability in search engine rankings and negatively affect how many people visit or join your wiki.
To make any of these changes or ask about a certain configuration change, simply go to Special:Contact on your community to send a message in to staff. We aren’t able to make every change requested, but we will try to help when we can.
Use the Theme Designer first before using CSS customization - it will likely make customizing a lot easier.
We cannot guarantee that changes we make to the core features on Fandom will not break or alter your customizations. We can help you diagnose why something is no longer working as intended, but we will not be able to help fix custom code.
You can customize your wiki’s CSS by editing the wiki’s MediaWiki:Common.css page. You can also get to this page with the Admin Dashboard via the CSS link. You can also edit CSS at MediaWiki:Fandomdesktop.css. When viewing a page, the code in Common.css and Fandomdesktop.css is combined together, with Common.css coming first. If you decide to use both pages as well @import rules (like importing custom fonts), then these rules should be added at the top of Common.css to function.
- First and foremost, there is a large library of well-written and powerful scripts tailor made for wikis at your disposal. Visit the Fandom Developers Wiki at dev.fandom.com to get started.
- Just like with CSS pages, changes to the Common.js and Fandomdesktop.js pages will affect the experience of everyone visiting the wiki.
Below this video, you will be directed to take a quiz outlining some of the points we went over. (We’re sure you’ll pass that with flying colors!) This quiz will give you a chance to review what you learned today as well as have an open-ended question that encourages you to think about how you can apply this topic to your admin style.
When you have passed the quiz, you will receive directions on next steps and how to receive your completion badge.
Thank you for attending today’s A+ session. Here at Fandom, we are committed to providing our admins the best resources available - if you have any feedback about what we talked about today, we encourage you to write into our support portal and we will be happy to review them. Remember, we also have a large Help section on Community Central that dives deeper into many of the topics we discussed today.
Thanks again for watching and happy editing!