Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wetpaint Wikis (2): Adding Stuff to Your Wiki

When a person creates his or her own personal Wiki, be it for personal or for work use (for example, having a classroom wiki so that both students and parents will be able to access their work from anywhere), it is important to start updating it regularly and keep it interesting for the site visitors. A Wiki can be seen as a sort of template which can be filled up collaboratively; it is alive and dynamic and ever-changing. Unlike a Blog, a Wiki can have several pages, and each page can have its own individual layout. Usually the first page is called 'Home'; that is where you write your introduction - the scope of your Wiki - and then you can have a series of pages linking to that home page.

But before we start talking about editing, a more important question arises: that is, Who is going to be responsible for the edits? Just because you have created a wiki, it doesn't automatically follow that everyone in the world will be able to view or edit it. Public wikis exist of course - the most common example is Wikipedia, which everyone can edit. We, as teachers, deal mostly with young learners, and safety online is often a huge concern of ours. You may want to have a Wiki which everyone can see and join in, but which only yourself and your students (or those whom you invite) can do the edits. You may wish to moderate discussions. Either way, the first thing to do after you create your wiki is to think about Permissions.

Site Settings

Before you start editing, it is important to take a look at your Site Settings. Click on Settings at the top right hand corner of the screen to access your wiki settings. We will go through them one by one in the order in which they appear.

  • Communications: This is where you set your site greetings, messages and notifications. You can also set a profile template for your members to fill in.

  • Templates: This is where the different page templates are. These are similar to MS Word or Powerpoint templates, and you can even customise your own.

  • Name and Logo: Change your site name (logo) and description.

  • Styles: Change appearance or site theme from here - you can choose from a selection of styles to suit the mood of your wiki.

  • Statistics: You may opt to have an analytics widget installed, such as Google Analytics or SiteMeter. These help to keep track of who visits your site.

  • Permissions: Although this is the tab before the last, its one great importance - for this is where you can manage who can view and/or edit your wiki. There are 3 levels of security regarding who will be or not be able to edit your site:
    Everyone, even anonymously - basically your wiki will be open to all, and everyone will be able to post, reply to discussions, comments, etc.
    Anyone who joins your site: There are no anonymous edits allowed, but anyone who joins the site can edit or add pages on your site.
    Only people I invite: There are no anonymous edits allowed, but anyone who joins the site can edit or add pages on your site.There are separate settings for posts and threads. The level of security you use will be determined by what you want to use your wiki for.

  • Backups: Wetpaint allows you to back up the contents of this site by exporting the pages as HTML into a zip file.This process may take a while, especially if this site is large. Backups are important especially if you are writing your information directly onto your Wiki and not, for example typing first into a word processor and then copy and paste your text. REMEMBER: A Wiki is a cloud computing application, and therefore, all the information is stored on servers several hundred miles away from your home. If something happens to that server and you haven't backed up your work, all your data will inevitably be lost - so BACK UP regularly!

Adding Pages

After taking care of the settings, you can start adding pages to your wiki. On the left hand side of your screen you should see the navigation menu. If you haven't added any pages yet, there will be your Home page at the top. Click on Add a new page to have additional pages. You may choose from pre-defined pages (rather like we choose content layout slides in Powerpoint: You can have blank pages, calendar-of-events type of pages, etc. Remember to give a suitable name to your page - short and self-explanatory. Once added, pages can be changed or deleted by clicking on More Tools on the Edit Toolbar.

The Edit Toolbar

As the name suggests, the Edit Toolbar is the place where you will be doing all the editing. After inserting your pages, click on the page you wish to start editing and click on Easy Edit. The Easy Edit Toolbar will pop up, and you can start editing your page by simply clicking on it. You will notice all the familiar icons: Bold, Italics, Underline, Font Name, Spellcheck, etc. Apart from text, your page may contain Photos, Videos, Widgets and/or Content Modules.

Photos and Videos

Click anywhere in your page (whilst in Easy Edit mode) to insert a photo or video. Photos are pretty straight-forward. In the case of videos, you may opt either to upload a video from your PC or else one which resides on a remote server, such as YouTube or Google Video. In the case of YouTube/Google, all you have to do is click on the Video icon, and then on Add by URL OR Embed. Copy the video's Embed Code from the source and click on Add YouTube Video. Once you add your video or picture, you will be able to adjust its size and orientation. In the case of videos, you will only be able to play them when you exit Easy Edit mode.The photos and videos you upload will also be visible in the Photos and Videos pages (accessible from the top menu bar.) The Photos and Videos pages also offer the opportunity to create photo and video albums.You may also opt to add other widgets or videos from other sites other than YouTube or Google - but this, together with the Content Modules, will be dealt with in the next post :)

Now...What Next?

Well, creating your very own Wiki of course! You have more than enough to get you started with your wiki project. You can also access one of my previous posts, an Introduction to Wetpaint Wikis, at, to refresh you memory. Log onto to start off. Have fun :)

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