WikiLou:FAQ

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Here are some Fearfully Anticipated Questions that people have heard, or think they may hear, or wonder about themselves.

If you don't see your question answered here, ask it at the WikiLou Lounge, and someone will answer it right quick.

General Questions

What is WikiLou?

WikiLou is a collaborative effort to document everything and anything to do with the St. Louis area. A wiki is a website that anyone can edit. Yes, that means you can edit it right now. You can add to this website and make it something great for St. Louis. If everyone were to add what they know about St. Louis to this site, it would become the most comprehensive information database about St. Louis that has ever been made.

Who are you people?

We're like you! People from St. Louis who want to create a great new online guide for St. Louis. Most of us are people who stumbled across the site, just like you, and decided to share our knowledge.

Who edits and organizes all this, though?

We do. The users. We create articles and then edit them, and we organize the articles into hierarchies and make links between them and have navigational pages, and things like that.

So, anyone can just drift in off the Internet and start writing travel articles?

That's the idea, yes. We use a technique called Wiki that lets any reader edit any page, instantly.

Well, that's never going to work.

Bzzzt. Not a question.

How is that supposed to ever work?

Doesn't seem like it ever could, does it? With anyone able to edit any page, things should just descend into terrible chaos, shouldn't they? Madness, mayhem, and a horrible bog of unusable drivel.

Strangely enough, it doesn't. People who care about having a useful site with well-written articles and information are the majority. People who just want to vandalize or delete things eventually get bored with it -- and, you have to admit, it's not that much of a challenge -- and the rest of us come in and clean up. The basic idea here is that there are far more good people in the world than there are bad ones, and this is certainly true for the St. Louis area.

The other great part is that wikis converge. One user adds as much as they know about a topic, and others start adding more information. Other people come through and condense it all so it reads well. As the topic changes more people can add that in.

It's strange, and it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it just happens. It's really cool.

I still don't believe it.

Bzzzt.

Do you have any proof that this works?

Well, we have the existent proof of other projects that create references collaboratively. Probably the most famous one is Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, and also Wikitravel, a great open-content travel guide.

OK, so, there's all this hippy-dippy love stuff about working together, but who's REALLY in charge?

You are. Any user can change articles, rewrite navigation areas, even overwrite information about the site itself. We try to make decisions about policy and guidelines collaboratively, but if you have a good idea for how we should work, let us know.

What is this nifty software you're running?

We use MediaWiki, the open-source software developed by the WikiMedia Foundation. You can get it from http://wikipedia.sourceforge.net/ .

Where's the contact information?

There isn't any. If you have a question about an article in particular, post it on the talk page for that article. If you have a question about WikiLou in general, try posting in the WikiLou Lounge.

If you are from the press, contact Michael using his user talk page or the "e-mail this user" link on his user page.

Questions about Content

This article is all wrong! You have to fix it!

No we don't. This is Wiki -- you can fix it yourself! Click the edit this page link on the top of the page you want to edit, and change the parts that bug you. That's the whole idea.

I am trying to find Topic X, and there's no article about it!

We're still a new project, and there's a lot we have nothing about. Feel free to start the outline of an article. Other users will add to it.

I am trying to find Topic X, and all that's on the page is one sentence!

Like we said, we're still a new project, and there are huge parts of the area we've only begun to work on. Some topics only have stubs covering them. If you don't think there's enough information on a topic, feel free to add more!

I am trying to find Topic X, and all that's there is "asdfkjadflkjfd EAT MY BUTT!!! HAW HAW HAW!!"

This is typical lowlife vandalism. Feel free to go ahead and delete the vandal's garbage and replace it with a full article, or at least a stub. Keep in mind that a real article may have existed on that particular page before it was vandalized, so take a look at the past versions of the document by clicking on the HISTORY tab on the top of the screen.

Questions about Editing

This all looks like gobbledygook! How do I edit these pages?

Pages on WikiLou are formatted using Wiki markup. It looks funny at first, but after a while it seems like second nature. You should read about how to edit a page.

Hey! I wrote this nice long article on Topic X, and it got changed! What gives?

Any user can edit any page. When you create an article, it's subject to editing for style, subject matter, spelling, grammar, factual information, and just generally fitting into the WikiLou scheme of things. It's all part of working on a collaborative project, not anything personal.

Hey! I changed my nice long article on Topic X back to the way it was before, and it got changed again! What gives?

You're in an edit war. Consider going to the page of the topic you're writing about and working out your differences with the other article editors. To start, try to look objectively at the changes - do they improve your article? At least make it no worse? Can you live with minor modifications (which you can make) to their changes? (Maybe they can live with your changes to their changes.) Is what was changed or deleted really that important?

How do I delete a whole page?

You can't delete a page directly. The procedure is somewhat more complicated: Go to WikiLou:Votes for Deletion and add a link to the page together with a reason for deletion. After discussion with other users, an Admin will delete the page if it is voted for deletion.

Other Questions

Why is it always so hot and humid in St. Louis?

Well, it's not, actually. But our summers can be pretty darned sticky a lot of the time.

What's a "hoosier"?

Long story. Read this.


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