Basics of Using Media Wiki

Published on July 5, 2022 at 7:15 pm by LEW


In this post I will take a short break from modifying the looks, to actually using Media Wiki to organize data. See the previous post in this series.

Before diving into using a wiki to organize your data, I should take a moment to define what it is. Most people have some idea of what a wiki is. Though when pressed, might find it hard to articulate.

Wiki Definition

At a very basic level, a wiki is a hyperlinked hypertext content management system. Basically information in a wiki can be accessed through a hyperlink, or it can be searched. The power and usefulness of a wiki comes from the ability to cluster information and link it together.

A wiki is driven by a wiki engine (or software). There are several different types of wiki engines out there., with a variety of capabilities. A wiki can be stand alone or part of a group. Probably the most famous group wiki is Wikipedia.

Using Media Wiki

Media Wiki is a very powerful server based wiki. That is you need a server, generally a LAMP server, to run it. You will, in most cases, need a server (remote or local) to run a media wiki. Note it is possible to run Media Wiki from a USB stick with a package like XAMP.

I am running Media Wiki on a shared hosting account. This means my wiki should be available anywhere I have internet.

Getting Started Recommendations

If you have been following these posts, My recommendation is you create a regular user account on your wiki, and not use the administrative account.

Also, if you have a group of people working on a project, you can create an account for each person. Media Wiki is excellent for collaboration.

To create a new user account, select the Special Pages link on the left hand side (note you will be using this page a lot so get familiar with it). Scroll down the Special pages until you find the Category Login/create account. From here select Create account. Enter a handle for use on the wiki, a password, and an actual name, then create the account. If you want to adjust access rights, that can be done form the Special pages, User rights. I will take a closer look at user rights in a later post.

Categories and Pages

When you add data to Media Wiki, it goes on pages that can go into categories. Categories can also go into other multiple categories, creating a tree like structure. And everything will be interlinked.

So the first step is to decide on your data categories. As with anything a few examples may help you sort things out. So that is where I will start.

Note, I will be referring to a Search bar several times. Unless otherwise stated, this is the Media Wiki search bar, not the browser address bar. Just wanted to make that clear.

Also, depending on how you set the wiki up, you will probably need to be logged in to add or modify content.

Top Level Category Creation

Since I maintain this blog, I want a top level category related to To create a category, I select the search bar and type the flowing basic command and hit enter. In my case I substitute my category name.

Category:<Category Name>

Category:Retired Techie

The page does not exist, but in the search results I have the option to Create the page “Category:Retired Techie” on this wiki! I chose to click on the red link and create the page. Note a category is a page, just like any other page. The big difference is how it is referenced.

At this point I will be at the link for Category:Retired Techie, but I am still told it does not exist. But I have the option to edit and save the page.

Note if you loaded a GUI editor during install you should have an option to use said editor. These are usually GUI based and fairly intuitive. I will go over the basic markup language used in the standard editor that comes with Media Wiki.

And we do want to edit. Not just create. At a minimum you may want to put some notes here about the category. There is already a page title, so I want to add an introduction section. To create a level one heading in the basic editor I use the following markup.


If you are using one of the GUI editors, you will have a tool bar with drop downs for setting heading levels.

I add the level 1 header and some basic information about this category, then save. Note on a save you will have a few options to chose from, including annotating why the change was made. Media Wiki also tracks who made the change.

Media Wiki also offers a Discussion tab, where users can enter comments and information for themselves and other users about a specific page.

Add a Page to a Category

The next thing we will cover is adding a page to a category. If you look at the category you just created, it tells you that there are no pages.

Creating a page is easy. Just type the page title into the search bar. If it does not exist, you will have the option to create it (just like before, remember Categories are pages). In my example I want a task list. So I type “Task List”. I then create the page and start editing it.

The first thing I want to do is link back to my Top Level category. You do that with the following type of edit.

[[Category:<category name>]]

Specifically in my current case I enter the following.

[[Category:Retired Techie]]

I then add any other edits to the page and save it.

You should notice a link at the bottom of the page pointing back to the parent category. And if you go to the parent category, you should note a link to the page you just created at the bottom.

Link Category to Main Page

The final piece will be linking our category back to the main page. A redirect link for a category looks like this.

[[:Category:<Category Title>]]

So go to the main page and edit it. I added the following for my Category.

[[:Category:Retired Techie]]

Once I saved, I had a link to the Retired Techie Category on the main page.


We have looked at some of the basics for getting data into a wiki and organizing it. While not terribly intuitive, over all it is not hard.

Before entering data, I really suggest having some sort of plan, it will make things much si9mpler and way more organized.

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