Help:Getting started

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New to Medieval Texts or wiki editing? This is the place to begin your journey into the wide world of transcribing and translating texts for the entire world to access and edit. Everything you do on Medieval Texts can be edited by other users just like you, but that is part of the benefit of crowd-sourcing transcriptions and translations. Don't know how to translate a word? Flag it and somebody else can help out. Don't know enough of a language to translate it? Transcribe it and a translator can finish the work later. Medieval Texts is a collaborative website – nobody does everything. So join in and follow some of the instructions below to get started.

Wiki 101

A wiki is a website that allows people to collaborate in the hope that better-quality documents will result. Wikipedia is the most popular wiki site and the one that started it all, but there are a bunch of other sites across the web that now use the MediaWiki technology, such as this one. Most wiki sites have a few simple things in common that makes learning how to edit very easy. Almost every page can be edited just by clicking the "Edit" button at the top of the page.

Editing and Formatting

Editing a page does not have to be difficult. Wiki coding is very easy and if you forget a code while writing, the most basic tools are available at the top of the editing panel and under the "Advanced" tab. Use those if you do not know the code. Otherwise, the basic codes are these:

  • ''' Three apostrophes ''' – These make whatever is between them bold.
  • '' Two apostrophes '' – These make whatever is between them italicised.
  • * An asterisk – This starts a bullet list (like the one you are reading).
  • # A hash – This starts a numbered list.
  • [[Double brackets]] – This links to another page on Medieval Texts. You only need to put the article name, not the whole web address.
  • [[Double brackets|with a bar]] – This links to another page on Medieval Texts, with the part after the bar being what actually appears on the page you are editing.
  • [http://single_brackets.com Single Brackets] – Single brackets designate an off-site link, with everything after the web address being what actually appears on the page you are editing. If you only put the web address, the link will be superscripted with a number.
  • [[File:File_page_name.jpg]] – This adds an image to a page.
  • [[File:File_page_name.jpg|thumb|150px|caption for the image]] – This adds an image to a page as a thumbnail (small) image, with a specific size (in pixels), and a caption box.
  • == Double equals == – This establishes the words between the equals as a top-level Header. For lower-level headers, add equals to either side of the Header (there must always be the same amount on either side).
  • <sup>Arrow brackets with "sup" </sup> – This superscripts whatever is between the code.
  • <sub>Arrow brackets with "sub" </sub> – This subscripts whatever is between the code.
  • <ref>Arrow brackets with "ref"</ref> – This designates a citation that will appear at the bottom of the page in either a <references/> section or a {{reflist}} (you must always put one of these reference list tags at the bottom of an article).
  • <nowiki>Arrow brackets with "nowiki" </nowiki> – This disables wiki coding between the code.

This wiki fully supports special characters and, when transcribing, the actual characters should always be used. If you do not know the appropriate code or key combination for specific characters, use the "Special characters" tab at the top of the editing window.

Text Entry Templates

Templates are the bread and butter of a wiki. It also is a bit more difficult than simply entering in text and using the above pre-configured codes. But templates are designed by the website staff to make the processing easier for you. The following templates have been specifically designed to help you and others while transcribing and translating.

  • {{ tab }} – Used this to insert a 5-space gap before the start of a paragraph. Generally this should be used rather than line breaks when transcribing (unless copying an original formatted line break).
  • {{ sic | original text | corrected text }} – Use when you are translating and you know for certain that a fact, usually a date or a name, is incorrect.
  • {{ word | original text | your guess }} – Use when you are translating and you are pretty sure about the translation but could use a second opinion. The guessed word will appear in the text while the original word appears on hover-over. The page will also be flagged in Category:Articles with a problem word so others can try and help.
  • {{ prob | original text }} – Use this when you are translating and cannot determine the definition of a word or phrase. The word will appear in red brackets in the text to show the reader that this word has not been translated. The page will also be flagged in Category:Articles with translation problems so others can try and help.
  • {{ a-edit | original text | author's comments }} – Use this when the original transcriber has added some short editorial comment about a name, place, or translation issue. The original text will stay but be green and underlined, and the comments will appear on hover-over. This should not be used for longer editorial discussions or debates – for those, use the reference feature above instead.
  • {{ sm | text you want small }} – Use this when the transcriber has typed texts (usually numbers) in a smaller font, such as "MMXVI".
  • {{ e }} – Use this to superscript the letters "e" when they appear after a century in French, such as "XVIe siècle".
  • {{ er }} – Use this to superscript the letters "er" when they appear after a first ordinal in French, such as "François Ier".

Where to go next

There are many different jobs throughout Medieval Texts for people and not all of them require knowledge of a language other than English (although most do). The two most important jobs, though, are transcription and translation. On top of these, there are other tasks such as peer reviewing articles, writing instructional pages, formulating teaching programs, writing source pages, background maintenance, and engaging in discussions regarding specific translations of texts.

To help guide you, check out the following Help pages for more direction. Also, scan through the pages themselves and see what you find. A good place to find materials for transcriptions is on Archive.org (an open source textual repository) or Gallica.fr (the digital repository for the Bibliothèque nationale de France). Any texts on these pages are free to transcribe, although do your research to make sure that A) they are medieval, and B) they are the best transcription to copy over (newer is usually better). You can find some collections of medieval documents that have been indexed at Collections.

And do not forget: this is meant to be a fun explorative project. If you get tired of doing one thing, move on to something else. Other people can come and finish from where you left off or you can come back later yourself. There are lots of things to do on Medieval Texts. Enjoy yourself!