EWB-UMN:Community Portal

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Welcome to the EWB-UMN Wiki! The Wiki is a powerful tool that facilitates collaboration across a large group such as this one. Using the wiki is important because:

  • It allows other people to easily see work that's being done. Interactions between projects becomes easier: you can instantly access data about any other project or about your own project, without having to wait for an email or a phone call. It also allows project members to check and review each others' work, without specifically requesting a design review. In addition, project and chapter leadership can track progress on the project, to see if we're still on schedule.
  • It serves as a backup for information. Things that are on the wiki are not affected by lost notebooks, papers, files, flash drives, or computer crashes.
  • It provides instant documentation of projects and their design process. Current and future project members can access the information it contains, even if the person that originally made it is long departed from the team. Without the wiki, extensive work would need to go in to documenting the project for future members.

Wiki Syntax

  • Read the Wikipedia Cheatsheet for the basics of how to use Wiki Syntax.
  • The MediaWiki Manual is a (not required) more comprehensive guide, with much more detail and features. You can also take a look at the code of Wiki pages to pick up some additional tricks.
  • Sign your name on comments and in discussions on talk pages - typing four tildes (~~~~) auto-magically generates something like this: Adem Rudin 06:28, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Use <nowiki></nowiki> tags to exclude mediawiki syntax on blocks of text
  • Use <pre></pre> tags to post plain text as-formatted. A good example of it's usage can be found on this page.
  • <math></math> tags can be used for TeX math syntax, which is very useful for writing equations.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make heavy use of the "Show preview" button at the bottom of the editing page. Do this especially if you're dealing with a lot of text formatting, images, tables, or files.
  • Keep track of what's going on in the rest of the chapter by monitoring the recent changes page.

Making the Wiki Useful

  • Make a habit of posting to the wiki every time you do work. Use it to take notes, store files, and have discussions with other project members. If you record that information elsewhere, make sure it gets to the wiki as soon as possible.
  • Always think to yourself, "how can I make this information easy for other people to find?" A good test for this is: can someone unfamiliar with the layout of the wiki find this information a year from now, without your help?

Naming Pages

  • Give new pages descriptive names, so that it cannot possibly overlap with another part of a project in the chapter (Example: "Tank" is a bad name for a page, because have built and will build many, many tanks. A better name would be "Simajhuleu - School Tank")
  • Create sub-pages to better organize information, instead of keeping it all on one page, especially if one section is getting too large. For instance, you can create "Sector Tanks," "Community Tanks," "Overflow Tank," etc. and link to all of them from the "Simajhuleu Tank Ideas" page.
  • When creating a new page or uploading a new file, create links to it in ALL the relevant places. "Orphaned" pages are extremely difficult to find, and often result in duplicate pages and lost information.
  • Keep newer, relevant information near the top of a page where it is easiest to find. This convention keeps information in (reverse) chronological order.
  • If some information on the wiki is obsolete, make sure to mark it as so (use the <strike> command for small bits, or make a new section). DO NOT delete it.

Discussion Pages

  • Separate content on the discussion page from the content on the actual page. The page itself should be reserved for actual information.
  • Comments, suggestions, corrections, or questions should always go on the discussion page
  • If an important piece of information comes up in the discussion page, make sure it gets transferred to the page itself.
  • Always end comments on the discussion page with four tildes (~~~~) so people can see who left the comment and when.

Calculations and Simulations

  • If you perform calculations, simulations, or analysis, put your methods, results, and conclusions on the wiki, so that they can be reviewed and used by other project members.
    • In CAD or other computations, upload the files that you used to set up the simulation (or accurately describe the conditions of the simulation, since mesh files and results files are typically too large to be stored on the wiki).
    • If you wrote a computer program to do analysis, upload the code to the wiki with documentation so other people can use it.
    • If you worked out equations by hand, upload scans of (or type out) your derivations and calculations.
  • Posting simulation files or programs without results and conclusions is virtually useless, especially to members who aren't familiar with the software you used.
  • Posting results and/or conclusions without your methodology is also bad, since nobody can verify your work without starting from scratch.

Uploading files

  • As with pages, give new files descriptive names (even more so, since it's not easy to see the content of a file)
  • Use the revision control function: you can upload a new version of a file, and still be able to access the old version.
    • DO NOT upload a separately named file. This runs the risk of someone using the wrong version of a file, which can quickly invalidate a large amount of work.

Meeting Minutes

  • Meeting minutes should be detailed and descriptive enough that someone who reads the minutes is just as informed as someone who was at the meeting.
  • Record any and all action items that were given out, and record progress/completion of those action items in subsequent minutes.