Help:How this site works

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Revision as of 07:14, 27 September 2019 by RobbieMcClintock (talk | contribs)
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How this site works

To add content to the worksite, you need to have an account. To start working on content, one needs to cross a modest learning threshold, but remember the site is all about self-education — give it a try and others will help. Be bold, not daunted! You will see a link, "Sandbox" on the top-right row of links, which is a kind of scratchpad in your User area. Use it to try things out.

Beginning participants need to realize that unlike most word-processors, entering content requires not only what you want to say, but entry of it with simple markup, which formats it for the screen or printer. Thus, every page has two modes, "Read" and "Edit" (readers without an account will see "View source" instead of "Edit"). Another quirk: Wikitext does not like blank spaces at the beginning of a line. The Markup Cheatsheet summarizes the markup and is useful to get started and to have on hand, and Help:Wikitext gives the full monty. Once you get the hang of it, it is not hard.

For overviews of how-to and where-of resources, go to the useful orientations on Wikipedia and/or MediaWiki. Allowing for the smaller scale of LearnLiberally.org, these are very useful, especially for the mechanics of contributing to the site and for the scholarly conventions that should hold in presenting material on the site. Much will be superfluous, however, for it aims to be comprehensive for all contingencies arising in a much larger enterprise. In addition, some key procedures do not pertain here.

Wikipedia has extensive, intellectually useful statements of its policies, principles, and guidelines, which will serve LearnLiberally.org well if followed critically with one key distinction in mind: Wikipedia is "a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project,"[1] whereas LearnLiberally.org is a multilingual, web-based, free-content scholarly project, seeking to advance the understanding and practice of self-education in the public at large and in the educating professions. Whereas Wikipedia "is not a publisher of original thought,"[2] doing so is the raison d'être of LearnLiberally.org. With that distinction in mind, almost all of Wikipedia's policies, principles, and guidelines are relevant to work on LearnLiberally.org.

But LearnLiberally.org is not an encyclopedia, but a worksite for advancing the theory and practice of self-formation in contemporary life. To further that purpose, we use some of the affordances of MediaWiki software rather differently than people use them on Wikipedia. Wikipedia encourages anonymous participation, participants on LearnLiberally.org should stand by their contributions to the site with their real identity. As a consequence, on LearnLiberally.org the User: pages, i.e., User:RobbieMcClintock, will become an important component of the content of the worksite, and and unlike on Wikipedia, here the SubPages functionality is active in the main content area.

As in Wikipedia, the Category functionality is here important in the conceptual organization of work on LearnLiberally.org. Categories are special links, i.e., [[Category:Site documentation]], inserted anywheres on a page (it will appear the bottom), pointing to a Category page that will explain the category and show links to all the pages that refer to it.

This worksite runs on MediaWiki 1.31.1, the current long-term-support release (LTS) of the software. We will upgrade it to the LTS release, due June 2020. A few of the many MediaWiki extensions are currently installed and more will be added as participants request (modulated by our currently modest MediaWiki nerd quotient). The current site (let's call it Beta 1.0) has a basic structure and a small amount of content in place (12/10/2018) and will fill out, slowly but steadily. It is ready to take on new participants, some with tech-smarts, more with content-smarts.

References