Wikipedia:Tutorial (Talk pages)

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Template:TOCright Talk pages are a key feature of Wikipedia, offering the ability to discuss articles and other issues with other Wikipedians.

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 okay 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. For your convenience, there is a button at the top of the edit box with a signature icon which automatically inserts "--~~~~".

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 external IP address is used instead.

User talk pages

Every Wikipedian has a user talk page, on which other Wikipedians 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 Wikipedia; 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. If you choose this approach, it's a good idea to post a notice at the top of your talk page so people know they have to keep an eye on it.

Indenting

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

There are several ways of indenting in Wikipedia:

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

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.

Example:

#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''
:::— [[Wikipedia: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

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.

Try a sample discussion at this page's Discussion Page

Other project pages

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

Pages in the Wikipedia namespace (also known as the "Project namespace") provide information about Wikipedia and how to use it.

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 Wikipedia:Template messages to see what templates have already been created. You can use the corresponding tags in articles. You can also create new templates.

All these project pages also have Talk pages of their own.

For more information on namespaces, see Wikipedia:Namespace

Continue the tutorial with Things to keep in mind