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New wiki service users may benefit from reading the short article Beyond Wikipedia: Wikis as Learning Tools published in the Spring 2009 issue of ITe@ch.

Illinois Wiki Overview

The Illinois Wiki is a powerful tool for collaborating and sharing information. However, if you are unaccustomed to using a wiki, it may be confusing at first. Here are several starting points to help you use the Illinois Wiki. Because it is a collaborative tool, we encourage you to post questions as comments to this page, and also to edit this page directly with new tips and advice for first time users.

Spaces, Pages, Comments, and Blogs

The program that drives the Illinois Wiki is called Confluence. Learning Confluence's terminology is one of the keys to effectively using and navigating the Illinois Wiki. There are four basic structures within the Illinois Wiki: Spaces, pages, comments, and blogs.

Spaces: Different subjects are separated into different spaces. In addition, different groups will maintain their own spaces. Certain spaces will be viewable to everyone (such as the "Help For This Site" space) and other spaces will only be viewable to particular groups (for example, certain Documentation Group pages might only be visible to Documentation Group members). Illinois Wiki Spaces house pages, comments and news posts. Every space has a page called "Home." When you click on a space, it is useful to start from the Home page within the space.

Pages: Wiki Pages are similar to web pages and contain information. Unlike regular web pages, certain Illinois Wiki pages are editable by everyone (such as this page), while other pages have editing restrictions.

Comments: Most pages will allow you to add comments at the bottom of the page. While it is possible to comment about anything, the administrators of the Illinois Wiki encourage users to use the comments section to ask questions and answer those questions. If possible, we ask that corrections or factual additions be made directly to the page instead of the comments (if users have permission to edit the page).

Blogs: Called "News" in previous Confluence versions, this feature has been renamed blogs to better align with its function. If you would like to voice your opinion on a subject related to the page, please add a blog item to do so.

Your User Profile

You can update your Illinois Wiki profile by logging into the wiki, then selecting Profile from your profile picture menu to the right of the search bar. The profile controls allow you to edit information about yourself, upload a profile picture, and set your email notification preferences.

Navigating Spaces

There are several ways to view pages within a Wiki Space. Clicking on the Spaces menu gives you a list of spaces you have recently visited, and the Space Directory lets you search for particular spaces.

It's also worth taking note of the breadcrumb links at the top of each page. Breadcrumbs will help you to navigate back to previous pages, and the IllinoisWiki link is always available on the far left to take you directly to the front page dashboard.

Watching pages and spaces

You can receive an email notification when other people update information on the wiki.

Page notification is helpful in situations where you might be collaborating on a single page (such as a document) and want to keep track of updates. To watch a page:

  1. Click the Watch icon next to the Tools menu in the top right of the page.
  2. Check the page checkbox.
  3. The grey eye icon next to Watch will become darker grey.

Space notification is best for when you have a larger space that you want to monitor or when contributors might be creating new pages, blogs, or other types of content. To watch the whole space,

  1. Click the Watch icon next to the Tools menu in the top right of the page.
  2. Check the space checkbox.
  3. The grey eye icon next to Watch will become darker grey.

To stop receiving notification, click the Watch icon again, and uncheck the page or space checkboxes.

Creating and Formatting Pages

When you wish to add a page, if you have edit privileges for the space, you can click on Create among the options toward the top left of the page. Choose what you want to create from the flyout menu that appears, typically a Page. Make sure that you give the page a Title.

After that, you can edit the page using the Rich Text editor.

If you want to place the page in a specific spot in the wiki page collection, click the Location button (toward the lower left of the editing window) and navigate to where you want your page to be.

Once you have created the page, click Save (toward the lower right of the editing window) to create the page.

If you want to make changes to your new page, the Edit button is toward the top right of the window, near your profile picture.

Other sources of help and documentation

Local information for the University of Illinois:

Help from Atlassian, the developer of Confluence:

Note on Google Analytics

The Illinois Wiki uses Google Analytics on all pages. More information can be found here.