Houston: We Have a MediaWiki Docs Problem

MediaWiki – love the app, hate the documentation, a term used loosely.

Here is a normal set of steps it took to find the answer. What I was looking for was that special MediaWiki URl you need to use to edit the sidebar links of your site.

  1. Go to the bookmark I had for MediaWiki Handbook
  2. Type in the search box navigation links
  3. I get some results but there’s a big red border box warning at the top:

    Important note: the instructions on this page may be out of date, incorrect, or unnecessary; for most requirements, the FAQ contains the necessary instructions. This page, however, explains some tasks not covered in the FAQ!

  4. Follow the link above for FAQ which looks like I am close, a heading of How do I change the contents of the navigation toolbar?
  5. But no, there is a fork in the docs, one for MediaWiki 1.5 and newer, which I take.
  6. But this is no answer, it’s the big old “This Page Has Moved”:
  7. Finally, many clicks later, I arrive at the correct area!

Basically it is a Special page you have to request off the root URl of your own wiki, MediaWiki:Sidebar, which you can edit to make the left side links your own.

I know MediaWiki is complex software, but the documents done by wiki are a sprawling mess (at least here there are forward links set up).

But perhaps it’s more of a user error, as I started form an old page. I will see what happens when I start using this newer URl for a MediaWiki documents bookmark http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Contents

But the experience highlights what happens when Wikis Get Big. They Get Messy. It goes with the territory. I can deal with it, but the average user….?

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Finding documentation for MediaWIki got so bad for me that once I found the info, I harvested into my own wiki so that I could create my own ad-hoc memory/tutorial for customizing MediaWiki.

  2. I agree, mediawiki documentation is horrendous. I had the exact same inquiry (editing the sidebar) and it took what seemed like hours to find the answer. That’s one of the major reasons why I decided to encourage my institution to switch to Confluence.

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