Getting started with MediaWiki as a knowledge sharing platform

MediaWiki provides users with a flexible platform to share knowledge, out of the box. Like many others, I had configured a knowledge sharing platform for my colleagues to share their thoughts within our company. In this post, I will share what I had gathered in the process of doing so.

Configuring MediaWiki

There are two main PHP files which contain configuration settings for the MediaWiki installation:

  • The LocalSettings.php file, which can be found in the root of the installation folder.
  • The DefaultSettings.php file, which can be found in the includes folder.

Many variables are prefixed with wg, which stands for "Wiki Globals".

Preventing anonymous edits

For a internal knowledge sharing platform, you may have to make sure that only a certain group of people can be granted editing rights. To prevent anonymous edits in MediaWiki, look for the following line in the DefaultSettings.php file:

$wgGroupPermissions['*']['edit']  = true;

and change it to:

$wgGroupPermissions['*']['edit']  = false;

If you want to limit account creation to your administrators, look for the following line in the same file:

$wgGroupPermissions['*']['createaccount'] = true;

and change it to:

$wgGroupPermissions['*']['createaccount'] = false;

Creating new pages

Creating pages is the essence of knowledge sharing in MediaWiki. There are a couple of ways to do create new pages in MediaWiki. Personally, I prefer to enter a page name in the search box on the left and have the system prompting me to create a new page if the page does not exist in the system. By doing so, I can check if my content is unique within the system and if there are any content that I can leverage on. You probably will also want to learn the MediaWiki syntax to format your content.

Editing pages

When there are existing content, you may want to edit them to include your ideas. To edit a page, click the edit link at the top bar. Be very careful of editing existing content as MediaWiki maintain a page history for every page and there may be users who are watching the page that you are going to edit.

Changing the main page

The default main page that is included with a MediaWiki installation is named as Main Page. If you like the name as it is, you can edit the contents of the page to include your own contents.

However, if you do not like the name of the main page, there are two ways to change it:

  • Click on the move link on the top navigation bar to rename Main Page.
  • Create a new page and edit the MediaWiki:Mainpage page to point to it. Initially, this page does not exist and you will be prompted to create one. Enter the name of the page that you want to designate as the first page.

Tweaking the sidebar

The sidebar will show on every page that you create. Hence, it can be used for navigation purposes. To edit the sidebar contents, search for the MediaWiki:Sidebar page. Initially, this page does not exist and you will be prompted to create one. You probably will also want to reference the MediaWiki:Sidebar manual page to learn more about the MediaWiki:Sidebar.

Extending MediaWiki's features

While MediaWiki provides excellent knowledge sharing features out of the box, there are times when you need more features. MediaWiki provides for added features through extensions. You can look in the Extension Matrix for a list of features that you can add to your MediaWiki installation.

Learning more about MediaWiki

There are many things about MediaWiki that I am learning as I progress in my work. The MediaWiki help page is the place that I go to whenever I have any questions.

About Clivant

Clivant a.k.a Chai Heng enjoys composing software and building systems to serve people. He owns and hopes that whatever he had written and built so far had benefited people. All views expressed belongs to him and are not representative of the company that he works/worked for.