Help: Tutorial

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Welcome to the DCCWiki Tutorial. DCCWiki is a collaboratively edited Internet encyclopedia to which you can contribute. This series of tabs will give you the basic skills and knowledge you'll need as you become a DCCWikipedian.

Each page will discuss a useful feature of the wiki software, styling and content guidance, information about the DCCWiki community, or important DCCWiki policies and conventions.

Thinking to make changes? The most important thing is to: Be bold! and just edit. DCCWiki doesn't require users to ask for permission add or edit pages, just do it since you you can't break DCCWiki.


This is the heart of any wiki - allowing nearly anyone to edit content of the website. With the exception of a few protected pages, every wiki page has a pencil at the top that allows logged in users to edit the current page. This icon lets you do exactly what it says: edit the page you're looking at. Sites like these, where anyone can edit anything, are known as wikis.

Try it in the Sandbox, and then click on the pencil icon at the top. You'll see the wiki code for that page. Add something fun or interesting like "Frank Zappa is the greatest ever American composer", then save it and see what you have done! There is more detail at Help:How to edit a page.

Show preview

One important feature to start using now is Show preview. Try making an edit in the Sandbox, then clicking the Show preview button instead of Save Changes. This lets you see what the page will look like after your edit, before you actually save. We all make mistakes; this feature lets you catch them immediately. Using Show preview before saving also lets you try format changes and other edits without cluttering up the page history. Don't forget to save your edits after previewing, though!

Edit summary

Before you hit Save, it's considered good practice to enter a very brief summary of your changes in the "Edit summary" box between the edit window and the Save and Preview buttons. It can be quite terse; for example if you just enter "typo," people will know you made a minor spelling or punctuation correction, or some other small change.

Play around in the sandbox if you'd like, and then continue with the tutorial.

Main article: Formatting

Most text formatting is usually done with Wiki markup, so people don't have to learn HTML.

Wiki markup

Writing for DCCWiki articles is a bit different from writing on a standard word processor. Instead of a strict "what you see is what you get" approach (also known as WYSIWYG), wiki uses simple text codes for formatting. The approach is similar to that used in writing HTML for web pages, but the codes are simpler.

The wiki can accept some HTML tags directly, but most people use the built-in MediaWiki markup language, which is designed for ease of editing.

Bold and italics

The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing is done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ('):

  • ''italics'' appears as italics. (2 apostrophes on either side)
  • '''bold''' appears as bold. (3 apostrophes on either side)
  • '''''bolded italics''''' appears as bolded italics. (2 + 3 = 5 apostrophes on either side)

Note: You can type multiple quote characters by surrounding them in <pre> or <nowiki> tags.

It is a DCCWiki convention to bold the subject of an article when it is first mentioned in the article. For example, the article Klinefelter's syndrome starts:

Klinefelter's syndrome is a condition caused by a chromosome nondisjunction in males...

Another DCCWiki convention is to italicize book, movie and computer/video game titles. If the first mention of the subject of an article is also a book or movie title then bold italics is used. For example:

The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy story by J. R. R. Tolkien, a sequel to his earlier work, The Hobbit.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are an easy way to improve the organization of an article. If you can see two or more distinct topics being discussed, you can break up the article by inserting a heading for each section.

Headings can be created like this:

  • ==Top level heading== (2 equals signs)
  • ===Subheading=== (3 equals signs)
  • ====Another level down==== (4 equals signs)

If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents will automatically be generated. Try creating a heading in this page's sandbox. It will be added automatically to the table of contents for the page, assuming three others already exist.


Indentation on DCCWiki is used primarily on talk pages, so see Talk Pages for instructions on indenting text.


Talk pages are a key feature of DCCWiki, offering the ability to discuss articles and other issues with other DCCWikipedians.

Talk pages

If you want to ask a question about an article, or you have a concern or comment, you can put a note in the article's talk page. You do that by clicking the "discussion" tab at the top of the page. Don't worry if the link shows up in red; it's ok to create the talk page if it doesn't already exist.

When you post a new comment, put it at the bottom of the talk page. The exception is that if you're responding to someone else's remarks, put your comment below theirs. You can indent your comment by typing a colon (:) at the beginning of a line.

You should sign your comments by typing ~~~ for just your username, or ~~~~ for your username and a time signature (see the example discussion below). When you save the page, your signature will be inserted automatically. Most of us use time signatures because it makes following discussions much easier.

You can get a username by creating an account (it's free). If you don't have an account, or if you have one but haven't logged in, your computer's IP address is used instead.

User talk pages

Every DCCWikipedian has a user talk page, on which other DCCWikipedians can leave messages. If someone has left you a message, you will see a note saying "You have new messages", with a link to your user talk page.

You can reply in either of two ways. One is to put a message on the user talk page of the person you're replying to. The other is to put your reply on your own talk page beneath the original message. Both are common on DCCWiki; however, be aware that replying on your own talk page runs the risk that your reply won't be seen, if the user doesn't look at your talk page again.


Indenting can improve the layout of a discussion considerably, making it much easier to read. A standard practice is to indent your reply one more level deep than the person you are replying to.

There are several ways of indenting in DCCWiki:

Plain indentations

The simplest way of indenting is to place a colon (:) at the beginning of a line. The more colons you put, the further indented the text will be. A newline (pressing Enter or Return) marks the end of the indented paragraph.

For example:

This is aligned all the way to the left.
:This is indented slightly.
::This is indented more.

is shown as:

This is aligned all the way to the left.
This is indented slightly.
This is indented more.

Bullet points

You can also indent using bullets, usually used for lists. To insert a bullet, use an asterisk (*). Similar to indentation, more asterisks in front of a paragraph means more indentation.

A brief example:

*First list item
*Second list item
**Sub-list item under second
*Third list item

Which is shown as:

  • First list item
  • Second list item
    • Sub-list item under second
  • Third list item

fourth list items

Numbered items

You can also create numbered lists. For this, use the number sign or hash symbol (#). This is usually used for polls and voting. Again, you can affect the indent of the number by the number of #'s you use.


#First item
#Second item
##Sub-item under second item
#Third item

Shows up as:

  1. First item
  2. Second item
    1. Sub-item under second item
  3. Third item

Example discussion

Here is an example of a well-formatted discussion:

Hi. I have a question about this article. I'm pretty sure purple elephants only live in New York! JayRandumWikiUser 02:49, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, last time I was in New York, the elephants I saw were green. — try2BEEhelpful 17:28, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I think you should find a source for your claims. Living × Skepticism 20:53, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
  • Elephants Monthly
  • Elephants World
try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I live in Australia, where the elephants look like kangaroos! The people below agree with my statement: -DontGdayMateMe 17:28, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  1. ElefantLuvr 01:22, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  2. AisleVoteOnAnything 05:41, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  3. alittlebehindthetimes 18:39, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Note that if you want to include a list in your comments, add colons before each item, for example:

:::Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
:::* ''Elephants Monthly''
:::* ''Elephants World''
:::— [[Help:User page|try2BEEhelpful]] 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Also, signing your message off is done by:

  • Writing ~~~ for the name (try2BEEhelpful), or
  • Writing ~~~~ for the name and date (try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)), or
  • Writing ~~~~~ for the date only (19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)).

You should usually sign with both name and date but votes are often signed with names only.


Experiment! This time, instead of editing a sandbox, leave a message on the talk page by clicking "Discuss this page" or "discussion". Remember to sign your user name. You might want to try responding to someone else's post. Remember, you should use "Show preview" to see if your formatting works before you save.


There are some things to keep in mind when editing DCCWiki.


DCCWiki encourages an atmosphere of friendliness and openness. Of course, in practice there are sometimes disagreements and even the occasional fight, but members of the community are expected to behave in a generally civil manner.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always Assume good faith on the part of other editors. Don't assume that someone is acting out of spite or malice. If someone does something that upsets you, leave a polite message on the relevant article's talk page or on the user's talk page, and ask why. You may find that you've avoided a misunderstanding and saved yourself some embarrassment.

Editorial policies

Neutral Point of View

DCCWiki's editorial policy is the "neutral point of view", often abbreviated "NPOV". This policy says that we accept all the significant viewpoints on an issue. Instead of simply stating one perspective, we try to present all relevant viewpoints without judging which is correct. Our aim is to be informative, not persuasive. Our policy does NOT mean that our articles are expected to be 100% "objective", since in any dispute both sides believe their view to be "true".

It's OK to state opinions in articles, but they must be presented as opinions, not as fact. Also, it's a good idea to attribute these opinions, for example "Supporters of this say that..." or "Notable commentator X believes that..."

You might hear DCCWikipedians referring to an article as "POV". This is DCCWiki slang for a biased article, or one obviously written from a single perspective. Advertising would fall in this category, as would a political diatribe. In a less extreme case, an article might have "POV" problems if it spends significantly more time discussing one view than another, even if each view is presented neutrally.

If you're going to spend time on controversial articles in subjects like "track power vs battery" or "Digitrax vs XXXX", it's important that you read the neutral point of view policy page as soon as possible. You should probably also read Staying cool when the editing gets hot. If you're going to spend your time on less emotional subjects plug and play DCC or command stations, you should still read the policies, but it's a less pressing concern. Keep in mind the advice here, and read the full policy if an NPOV issue comes up.

Subject matter

DCCWiki is an encyclopedia on DCC. Hence, articles should be encyclopedic information, or a reference for this and others.

Citing sources

DCCWiki doesn't require that you cite sources for the information you contribute, but we do prefer that you do so whenever possible. If you're using a book (or books) to write the article, list them in a section called "References". If you're using a website, make an "External links" section and link to it. This helps our readers verify what you've written and find more information. See Help:Cite sources for more information on this.

U.S. English vs. British English

Both forms are welcome on DCCWiki. An abridged version of the related policy could be stated as:

1. Do not edit a page simply to "correct" the spelling in either direction.
2. If the subject is related to the United States, then U.S. English is preferred:
U.S. child labor laws
3. If the subject is related to the UK/Commonwealth, then British English is preferred. The same applies to most European topics, as people in Europe mostly see British English.
4. The usage should be consistent throughout an article.

For a more detailed version of the current formal policy, see Help:Manual of Style#National varieties of English.


Do not submit copyrighted material without permission. The best articles are usually written from either personal knowledge, or through the synthesis of research from multiple sources. For a more detailed discussion of copyrights, see Help:Copyrights.

Renaming articles

If you find an article that you believe is mis-named, please do not cut & paste the contents of the old article into a new article--among other things, it separates the previous contributions from their edit history (which we need to keep track of for copyright reasons). The preferred method is to move the page to the new name. If it's your first move, please read the warnings on the move page carefully, as there are a number of issues to consider before moving a page. For a more detailed discussion, see Help:Rename or move a page. If a "disambiguation" page is involved, it is best to review Help:Disambiguation.


Registration is optional, but you cannot create or edit pages without out.

Registration is optional

Everyone is welcome to contribute to DCCWiki, regardless of whether they choose to register a username or not.

There are two main reasons people are encouraged to register:

General benefits

The free account gives you many benefits, including more editing options and user preferences. One handy feature is the watchlist, which makes it easier for you to track changes to pages you are interested in. Another is the ability to move or rename a page. (Do not move pages simply through copying and pasting as the edit history is not preserved that way.)

An unregistered user is identified by his or her machine's IP address, which is used as his public identifier when he makes contributions (and signs comments on talk pages). Your computer's IP address can sometimes be used to find information about you, so registering increases your privacy by hiding it. Also, because IP addresses are often non-permanently allocated by DHCP or PPP, unregistered users sometimes find it more difficult to gain respect and recognition from other editors through building a good track record. It can also be more difficult to carry on conversations with such non-registered users since they lack a unique talk page.

Finally, only registered users are allowed to become administrators (AKA sysops). If you register, do not forget your password nor your user name. However, with the Drupal integration, your password can be emailed to you if you forget it.

Perceived benefits

Many DCCWikipedians consider registering to indicate a greater willingness by you to stand behind your edits, and your comments on discussion pages. This means your contributions to articles and discussion pages will generally be given more weight, at least when you make the entries while logged in.

How to register

To register, or to see more detailed information regarding the benefits of registering, you can click the Log in link at the top right corner of any page. With the new Community Website integration, you will be redirected to this page for registration.


In addition to the articles and their Talk pages, there are some other categories of behind-the-scenes pages that help DCCWikipedians communicate with each other, and serve a variety of other roles in building DCCWiki. These different areas are often referred to as namespaces — as in, "the Talk namespace".

User pages and User Talk pages

If you want to share information about yourself, the place to put it is your User page. You can gain easy access to your User page if you are logged in as a registered user. (You can always get to your User page, if you have one, by searching for it or following the link in your signature on a talk page, but if you log in you get a set of quick links to your personal pages in one of the margins of your screen.)

If other users want to communicate with you, they will leave a message on your User talk page.

Some other areas

Content written in a Template page will be displayed in articles that contain the corresponding template reference. For example, the content written in Template:Protected will appear in any article that contains the {{protected}} tag. Take a look at Help:Template messages to see what templates have already been created. You can use the corresponding tags in articles. You can also create new templates.

For more information on namespaces, see Help:Namespace.


There! You now know the most important things needed for contributing to DCCWiki. Any comments or feedback on this tutorial? Feel like something wasn't explained well enough, or want to know about something that isn't here? Go ahead and edit this page or drop a note to support @ if you need help.

Of course, one can always learn more. We've tried to keep this tutorial short so that you can start editing as easily as possible, but that means there are lots of topics we haven't covered. The links below are pages you might find useful as you continue your work on the wiki.

If you see something below that interests you, or that you know will be particularly relevant to your work here, go ahead and read it, or bookmark it and come back later.