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Information about Civicwiki

Information about Civicwiki

Our "About" page is a good way to learn about Civicwiki (CW). Our Readers' FAQ page is another good source - or it will be when we have some questions people frequently ask.

How to Browse and Search


Every page has a search box in the upper right corner that has the word 'Search' in front of it. Type a phrase that represents what you are looking for in that box and press 'Enter'. A search results page will appear that lists articles (and other pages) with your phrase in the title or in the text of the page, with links to those pages.

If there is no page with a title matching your search phrase, you will be invited to create such a page. That is one way to initiate page creation.


Topics and subtopics

Civicwiki is organized into topics and subtopics. In wiki-speak, these are called 'categories'. When a category is assigned to another category, it becomes a sub-category. In this way a topic tree (category tree) is developed. There are a few top level categories which represent the trunk of their own topic tree. These have a link on the top right of the CW Main page. Each such link connects to a home page (called a 'portal') for that top level category. Each portal has a description of the main topic for that category and the kinds of articles and subtopics that should be assigned to that category.

The sidebar

On the left side of the page you see the sidebar. This is a set of links with self descriptive titles that connect to pages that display information about Civicwiki. The sidebar is always visible.

How to write an Article

Anyone can write an article. If you are not a registered user, your article will be placed in the "for approval" space, which means that it must be reviewed by an "editor" before it is published (made visible). If you are a registered user, your article will be visible on the site as soon as you create it.
If you are registered, you are a "user" or an "editor".

  • "Users" can perform edits and create articles that are immediately visible.
  • An editor is able to review and approve articles submitted by non-registered users. In the process, the editor may edit the submitted article or provide comments to the author.
  • Editors also review all articles posted within their topic area for relevancy and suitability and communicate with the authors with suggestions when needed.

CW accommodates diversity of thought - which is essential to the CW mission - as long as it is intelligently written and fact based. But the article must be relevant to the topics we address on CW and meet some minimum standards for content quality. Be assured, CW seeks active users and editors and will encourage your participation with our help and suggestions where we think it will be beneficial.

Writing your first article

Understanding what articles are right for CW

If you are wanting to write an article for CW, you probably have some familiarity with the CW mission. If not, there are a few things on this site that you should read before you write.
Start with the page that describes what Civicwiki is about.

Then continue by reading about the Civicwiki mission.

The main page has some introductory information on it as well.
The portal pages have more detailed information about CW topics. They are the home pages of the top level CW topics ("categories" in wiki-speak). Reading each of these will give you a more in-depth view of the purpose of the site. The main page has links to the portal pages in the upper-right area of the page. They are also listed here:

Inalienable Rights
America's Heritage
American Independence
Liberty and Constitution
Economic Freedom
The Issues

Here are a few things to keep in mine:

  • CW does not try to be a history book. Many of our articles deal with history, but only to the extent that the history presented provides relevant background to the concepts of freedom in America, our form of government, and the issues that we have to deal with on our society's always present problem of accommodating a diverse population.
So resist writing an article about history for history's sake. Think about how that history is relevant to CW's mission. If it is, then write the article and make the connection. If not, think about putting it on Wikipedia.
  • CW is about civics, economics (as it relates to jobs and freedom), politics, the rights of man, and
the issues these give rise to in a diverse society.

Getting started

The hard part about writing is the thought that goes into an article and the crafting of the words. We don't have a tutorial for that.
We can help with the mechanics of typing it in. See the tutorial for creating an article.

Inserting infoboxes

If you are familiar with Wikipedia articles, you are familiar with the infoboxes that appear on the right side of many of the articles that add image, graphic, and textual information to the article. The article form attempts to make this easy for you by providing an infobox template.

Watch your article

Any article (with a few exceptions) placed on CW can be edited by any registered user. That is the nature of a wiki. While we attempt to maintain as much quality control as we can with a few volunteers, we rely on many to write and edit our content. So, whatever you write will likely be edited at some point. It is easy to watch your articles. Simply check the "Watch this page" option at the bottom of the edit form. When you are logged in (you must be a registered user to do so) you can click on the "Watchlist" button at the top-right of any page to see a list of activity on pages you are watching.
Alternately, you can navigate to your article and click on the "View history" tab.

How to edit an article

Register as a user

The first requirement for editing a page is that you register as a user. To register is simply to create an account.

Request an account. As soon as one of our bureaucrats approves the request, CW will send you and email to validate the account.
We ask that all registered users supply and validate an email address. That will allow you to reset your password and allow us to communicate with you about your edits and the articles you create when we think it will be helpful to you and the content you provide. It also helps us manage the site by reducing spam and vandalism.
Edit an article

Editing done by users will be to articles rather than other types of pages - such as this help page.
CW uses Mediawiki - the same software used by Wikipedia.

  • Unlike Wikipedia, CW also uses SemanticWiki. All articles are created and edited using a Semantic Form. (Non-article pages do not use the form.)
If you can edit a page in Wikipedia, you can edit a page using our form since the approaches are both based on Mediawiki and therefore similar. The form used in Civicwiki provides more templates. Simply take a moment or two to look at the way it is organized. It should be straightforward for a user who has edited or written a wiki page.
If you are a stranger to wikis, it may take a little more time to grasp, but you should still find it straightforward and learn it with a little experimentation. There is always a help bar at the top of the text window that will show you most (but not all) of the options for formatting text, inserting links, images, tables, etc.
(For example, the help bar doesn't tell you that a paragraph can be indented by starting it on a new line with a colon as the first character - two colons indent twice, etc.)
Most HTML tags and formatting function work on wiki pages. There may be exceptions, but don't know what they are at this point.
Our bureaucrats, who represent the full range of web site familiarity, have had a range of experience with the form approach - from "I don't get it" to "piece of cake".

There is a tutorial for editing an article that provides more detailed information. For some this will be helpful. If you have a little experience, it may just slow you down, but you might see something helpful you did no know about.

For detailed help, use our tutorial on editing.


I have a suggestion for a new topic (category)

One of the more important aspects of presenting CW content is the way it is organized into topics and subtopics.

In wiki-speak, those are categories and sub-categories. Therefore, "topic" and "category" are used interchangeably, as are "subtopic" and "subcategory".
The founding bureaucrats (a wiki term) have put some thought into the main topics. We think it is a good start, but we are fairly sure that as the site develops, they will undergo some change.

The set of topics is a set of topic trees, each with a main topic as its trunk and subtopics as branches. Topics may be added, deleted, or renamed. We welcome your suggestions for topics and subtopics.

Further, subtopics can have subtopics.

The best way to make a suggestion regarding topics is to leave a message.

  • If it is for a new main category (topic), leave your suggestion on the talk page for the user "Jeff". You can find that page by clicking on the "Special pages" button on the left sidebar. Then navigate to the page that lists users. The user list will have a link to the talk page of each user.
  • If it is for a subcategory (subtopic) please leave the suggestion on the 'Disscussion' page for the main topic home page. You can find these pages by starting from the Main Page and clicking on one of the main topic near the top-right of the page.

I have a suggestion for an Article

Of course, the best way to see your suggestion become content on CW is to write it yourself. It may get edited by others - hopefully a good thing - but that will get it started. If you don't want to write it, you can leave a suggestion for an article on the 'Discussion' page for the top level topics.
How to find the topic discussion pages:

Navigate to the portal page for the top level topic that best fits the intent of the article. The links to these pages are on the top-right are of the main page. There is a tab labeled "Discussion" on the top-left area of the portal page. Leave a message there and the editor for that page will find it.
The way to leave a message is to click on "Add topic" tab on the top-right of the page. Then type your suggestion.

I have a suggestion for what you can do with your stupid wiki

If you want to give us a constructive comment, please put it on the talk page for Jeff or Glenn.
If it isn't constructive, we have a suggestion for what you can do with your stupid comment.

Report a problem with an article

If you believe that there is a problem with an article there are a couple of ways to handle it.

  • The most obvious way is to edit the article.
Often that is the best way, but sometimes it isn't, and it is a judgment call. If you are certain that the problem is simply factual and know how to fix it, that may be the best approach. If the problem is subjective, you might want to . . .
  • Leave a message for the author on the Discussion page for the article.
  • If you think it is necessary, due to the nature of the problem, leave a message for the editor of the top level topic (category) by leaving a message on the Discussion page of the portal for that category. A "portal" is the home page for the top level category for that article. Links to the portals are on the Main Page upper-right.

I heard this really great joke

We love jokes. Share it with us and other CW users by putting it on the joke page. There are some rules, however.

  1. Keep it clean. Off color jokes will be deleted and may result in your being blocked from all editing and writing.
  2. Don't poke malicious fun at any person or group. It'll be deleted.
    There is a fine line between laughing at and laughing with someone. Non-malicious fun is ok, but err on the side of caution. If it gets deleted, that means we thought it crossed the line.
  3. Don't use the jokes page for advertisements or links to other websites. Each joke must be self contained or be deleted.
  4. Don't blame CW for lame jokes.

When you add a joke, first click on the 'Add New section' button. Then type your joke into the text box for the new section. You can add an infobox if it somehow adds to the joke. We'll use this approach for now. If we get lots of jokes, we might have to figure out something else.