In a nutshell, the steps necessary to edit a page are:
- Click on the edit tab visible at the top of the article.
- Make your changes to the text that appears in the main edit box.
- Review your changes using the Show preview button.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until your edit is complete.
- Type in an Edit summary in the field below the main edit box.
- (Optional) Click the "This is a minor edit" checkbox (for pages that do not alter the substance of the page).
- Click on the Save page button.
The editing process
If you see something that needs to be changed on any wiki article, you should jump right in and make the changes. If you are looking for ideas on what needs to be edited, the helping out page has some ideas. You do not need to get any pre-approval for your idea or otherwise ask for permission. If you make major changes to a page or make changes that you think might be misunderstood, you should explain those changes on the article's talk page.
You may wish to add any pages that you edit to your personal watch list (click on the "watch" tab that appears at the top of the page). By selecting "my watchlist" you can quickly see whether subsequent changes were made to any watched page. See after your edit is saved for information on what might happen next.
The edit box
Any changes you make to the text shown in the edit box will become part of the article. When altering the page's contents, be sure your edit will improve the page and will comply to the site's style guidelines. You may wish to use our sandbox before starting to edit articles - you can make any changes you want to the sandbox page (within reason: obscenities and abusive language are never acceptable on any wiki page).
If you are not familiar with the wiki formatting, you may want to review the quick editing guide, or you may want to copy the formatting used elsewhere on the page. When in doubt about the formatting, just focus on writing the content you want to add; other editors who are more familiar with the wiki can later add any necessary formatting.
Do all the changes you would like to do at the same time as part of the same edit. Doing a separate edit for each typo you wish to fix, for example, just clogs up the page history and the recent changes page with a lot of redundant entries. Other editors will find it much easier to keep track of what you have done if all the edits are done at the same time. Of course, there will inevitably be times when you realize right after hitting the "Save page" button that you forgot to do something; by all means, edit the page again to take care of anything that was overlooked the first time. Also, if you are spending hours editing a page, you may wish to save your progress a few times along the way; this is completely acceptable.
Previewing the page
Previewing the page is often the most important step of the process, especially for new editors. The section of the page that you are editing will be shown exactly as it will appear on the wiki page. Read over your entry and be sure that everything is complete before hitting the "Save page" button. Make any necessary changes, and preview the page again. Only once you're sure all your editing is done should you hit the "Save page" button.
A checkmark should be placed in the "This is a minor edit" checkbox for any edits that do not fundamentally change the information available on the page. Examples of minor edits include:
- Fixing typographical or grammatical errors.
- Adjusting the layout of the page or formatting of a section.
- Adjusting the size or placement of images.
- Adding categories or other navigational tools to a page.
- Adding or correcting links to other pages.
Some things which should not be marked as minor edits include:
- Reverting vandalism or spam. Keeping these as non-minor edits allows administrators to see them better and deal with the problem.
- Responses to questions on a talk page (spelling/formatting corrections on talk pages should still be marked as minor).
Editing a discussion page
Every article has its own discussion page (also frequently called a talk page) where you can ask questions, make suggestions, or discuss corrections. Click the "discussion" tab at the top of the page to reach it. If the "discussion" tab is red, it has not yet been created; all editors are welcome to create talk pages whenever they are needed.
Follow the same steps used to edit the main article page. Some differences between article pages and talk pages are:
- You should always sign your message using four tildes (~~~~). When you save the page, the site will automatically convert the four tildes into your username and the current time (the preview will also show what your converted signature will look like).
- New topics should be started at the bottom of the page, using a level two header for the title (==Title==).
- A shortcut for creating a new topic is the "+" tab (right next to the "edit" tab at the top of any discussion page). Clicking this button automatically adds a new section to the bottom of the discussion page. Instead of the "Edit summary" box there is a "Subject/headline" box which should be filled in with an appropriate title (e.g., "Question about who created this pattern")
- When commenting on a subject, your comments should be placed below any other comments on the subject. When directly replying to another editor's message, place your comments below everyone else that has replied to that person.
- If you are replying to a previous editor, you should indent your comments using a single colon (:) at the start of your paragraph (or if the previous editor's comments were indented, use one more colon than the previous editor).
After your edit is saved
You may not get any immediate feedback on your edits. Even if you do not receive feedback on your edit, we do appreciate all new contributions, whether they are fixing typos or adding a new section to a page. All edits made to the site are noticed and checked; many editors regularly review all of the recent changes made to the site.
If you notice that your contribution has been revised, remember that this is part of the wiki process. Each article is a fully collaborative effort, and any editor can revise any part of the page. The most common revisions are to fix typos or add links to other wiki pages.
Even if more substantial changes are made to your contribution, don't be alarmed. It takes most new editors some time to familiarize themselves with the site's style guide and article organization system. Other editors on the site will be happy to help you learn more about wiki editing; having your edits altered is just part of the learning process.
If you would like to understand why your edit was changed there are several possible courses of action:
- Click the "history" tab on the page that you edited. The history tab will provide you with a complete list of all the edits made to the page, including the editors' edit summaries. The editor(s) who altered your contribution should have given a brief explanation in the summary accompanying the edit.
- If you don't understand the explanation, add a question on the article's talk page. Click "discussion" to pull up the talk page, and add a question (e.g., "I made an edit yesterday which was undone. I don't understand why the editor said the information was redundant"). The editor who made the change, or possibly other wiki editors, will respond with more complete feedback (although remember it may take a few days for other editors to have a chance to respond).
- If after a few days your question hasn't been answered, you may also choose to ask the editor on his/her talk page (click the "Talk" link that appears next to the editor's name). The editor will be automatically be notified about any questions posted on his/her talk page.
There are times when you may need to reverse a set of edits and restore a page to a previous version. Examples include:
- You just made a major mistake with your last edit and don't know how else to fix it.
- You notice that someone has vandalized a page and you want to clean up the vandalism.
Note, however, that you should be cautious about reverting any edits made in good faith by another editor. An explanation must be provided if you revert another editor's work (in the edit summary or on the talk page). Reverting can lead to edit wars instead of constructive improvements to LifeWiki.
The wiki automatically keeps a record of all changes that have been made to every article. Therefore, it is easy to access any previous version of the page. To restore an article to its previous state:
- Click on the "history" tab at the top of the article.
- Identify the version you would like to use, and click on its date/time information. This will open that version of the page in your browser.
- Click on the "edit" tab that appears on that version of the page. Note that a red box appears at the top of the edit page to warn you that you are editing an out of date version of the page.
- Provide a reason for this change in the edit summary.
- Click "Save page".