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Every wiki page has an associated talk page, which can be used for discussion and communicating with other users. Talk pages can be accessed by clicking the "discussion" tab at the top of the page. Simply edit the page as normal to add your comment. A talk page is actually very similar to any other wiki page, but it is in the "Talk" namespace, to keep it separate from the articles in the "(Main)" namespace (See Help:Namespaces). As with any wiki page, you can edit it, link to it, and view the editing history.
For new beginners, talk pages may be confusing. Fortunately, some extensions are used to enhance talk pages. The DiscussionTools extension can make it easier to create and reply talk pages, and automatically sign your comments. StructuredDiscussions is another extension, which uses structured talk pages instead of ordinary talk pages.
Editing conventions on talk pages
Having discussions on a free-form wiki page will seem strange at first. It helps if everyone follows some simple editing conventions:
- Always sign your name after your comments. Use the four tildes "
~~~~" wiki syntax (or the signature button in the toolbar above the editing textbox). For more information see Help:Signatures.
- Start a new discussion with a
==level 2 heading==at the bottom of the page (or use the "+" tab).
- Indent replies with colons (
:) at the beginning of the line.
Here is an example discussion, following the talk page conventions:
|Wiki text||Rendered talk page|
== Soup == How's the soup? --[[User:Example|Bob]] 18:07, 26 August 1991 (UTC) : It's great!! --[[User:Example|Simon]] 11:21, 28 August 1991 (UTC) :: I made it myself! -- [[User:Example|Bob]] 14:11, 3 September 1991 (UTC) I think the soup-discussion should be moved to [[Talk:Soup]]. -- [[User:Example|Lisa]] 21:55, 3 September 1991 (UTC)
How's the soup? --Bob 18:07, 26 August 1991 (UTC)
We are aware that this most widespread convention is problematic for many reasons:
- It generates invalid HTML structure by appropriation of the definition-list syntax;
- It is fragile against table insertions;
- There are no real paragraphs.
Some wikis are known to use
* instead for problem 1. Follow your local rules.
To avoid breaking complex formatting, copy what the comment you are replying to uses to indent, and add
* to its end.
Having discussions on a free-form wiki page will seem strange at first. It has some advantages over the conventional rigid forum format, but it can get a little messy. As with other wiki pages, anyone can help with tidying up discussions, to conform to the editing conventions, e.g., add signatures and headings where they are missing.
Clearly, we also have the opportunity to edit other people's comments. It is generally bad etiquette to modify somebody else's wording. (Better to just add your own comment with your corrections.) But it can be acceptable to ...
- Modify discussion headings
- Change wording or append words to the discussion headings, to better describe the topic of discussion. Note that good descriptive headings become important when many discussions start to fill the page.
- Move discussions to a different page
- If discussions are put in the wrong place on the wiki, and are better associated with different talk pages, then you could just move the discussion by cut & paste. This is potentially confusing, for the people posting, but it can be important for keeping things tidy. You could leave the discussion in the wrong place for a few days/weeks of grace before tidying it. You could leave a link behind explaining that a discussion was moved, or if not, you should link within the edit summary.
- Delete discussions when they are out-of-date
- Discussions can often get left lying around on a talk page long after the issue is no longer relevant. It's usually a good idea to reply to saying "I think this is now resolved", but sooner or later it's time to just blow away the old discussions (they are of course preserved in the editing history).
- Split a post into several discussions
- It may be appropriate to do this if somebody has raised several points that need to be answered separately. However, you should always be respectful of other people's words. Does their post still make sense if you split it up?
Building articles - Discussing articles
It is usually best to keep focused on the task of building a wiki article and use discussion pages only to support this process. The topic of conversation should generally revolve around what needs to be done to make the associated article better. Remember that editing the article itself is often a more effective means of communicating. It can be more difficult, requiring you to balance your views alongside those of others, but it can also be more rewarding. This is how the community of wiki editors will make progress. Often it will feel more natural to engage in a heated debate on a talk page (or indeed any other contact channel) but in fact, the wiki article itself can offer a powerful means of reaching middle-ground. Think about how to portray both sides of the argument (e.g., listing advantages and disadvantages) and you may find the debate evaporates.
User talk pages
A "User talk page" is a talk page associated with somebody's "User page" (See Help:User page.) This is a place to leave messages for a particular wiki user.
This can function as a kind of messaging system. Users receive the following prominent notification when new messages have been left on their talk page:
The message will continue to be displayed on all pages until users visit their talk page.
They may be notified by email as well, although this cannot always be relied upon (since the email notification feature must be activated by supplying a valid email address, and clicking a confirmation link). If you don't get a response to your user talk page message, try looking for other contact details that they may have supplied on their user page.
Note that the messages are not private, and others can join in the conversation.