Lesson 6: Collaborative content authoring and editing

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At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the consensus model as it relates to wikiethics
  2. Interpret the Recent Changes page
  3. Explain the importance of the History and diff pages
  4. Revert to previous versions of edits

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Key points


  • Treating others with respect is the key to collaborating effectively in building useful resources in Wikieducator
  • All resources on WikiEducator are viewable and potentially editable by anyone who creates an account
  • Expect your work to be edited by others
  • Resolve any disputes or leave comments by using the Discussion pages

The Consensus Model

  • Draft plans, outlines and suggestions are created on the wiki. Anyone is free to create a new wiki page in relation to any content
  • Consensus discussions take place in the Discussion pages
  • Once consensus is achieved, the necessary changes are made on the relevant wiki page
  • Minor edits, improvements and new additions are usually done without discussion.

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Interpreting the Recent Changes page

  • The Recent Changes page lets you see the most recent edits made to pages in Wikieducator.
  • Users can use this page to monitor and review the work of other users and to track where activity is occurring.
  • The Recent Changes link is found in the Navigation sidebar on the top left of each page
  1. Click on the Recent Changes link. You should see something like this:
    • (diff) (hist)...Online_manual; 10.05...Mackiwg (Talk) (Added link to glossary)
    • diff) (hist)...N Wikieducator tutorial; 10.06....Brent Simpson (Talk) (New Tutorial)
    • “diff” links to the diff page for this edit
    • “hist” link corresponds to the history link on the edited page
    • A bold N indicates that a new page was created
    • If there is a bold m, this indicates that the user marked the edit as “minor”
    • The next link is the current version of the page in question
    • The figures e.g. 10.05 refers to the time in UTC
    • For logged in users, the next link is a link to their user homepage
    • Then there is a link to the user’s talk page.
    • Finally, a description of the change/edit made

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Understanding History and diff

  • All editable pages on wikieducator have an associated page history, which lists all changes made to the page in reverse chronological order.
  • Viewing the history of a page is like looking at recent changes, however in this case the changes are just for that specific page
  • The history page also allows you to compare changes between one edit of a page and others.
  • A diff is the difference between any two versions.
  • For every version or change that has been made to the page there are potentially two radio button: the left column (cur) is for selecting the older version, the right column (last) or selecting the newer version. Pressing “Compare selected versions” gives the difference between the two versions.
  • Viewing the diff between two versions of a page is the best way to get a detailed view of what exactly has been changed on a page.
  1. Access the history of a page by clicking on the history tab located at the top of any page.
  2. Take a minute to explore the page
  3. Select the versions you want to compare by clicking on the radio button beside each version.
  4. Click on the compare changes button at the top of the list
  5. Analyse the “diff” page which appears. Observe the detailed record of changes made to page

Reverting to an earlier version

To revert a page is to undo all the changes made to that page after a specific time in the past. The result will be a page identical in content to the page as it was saved at that time. Reverting is a decision that should be taken seriously and is primarily used for fighting vandalism. If you are not sure whether reverting is appropriate, discuss it first using the discussion or talk pages rather than immediately reverting or deleting. If you feel an edit is unsatisfactory, try improving it rather than simply reverting or deleting it.

To revert a page to an earlier version:

  • On the page you wish to revert, click on the History tab. Then click on the time and date of the earlier version you intend to revert to. It will not work if you click on 'cur', 'last', or "Compare selected versions".
  • When the page displays, you will see text similar to this: (Revision as of 15:35, 21 December 2006;) at the top of the page below the page's title.
  • You can navigate backwards or forwards through the chronology of changes by using the '←Older revision | Current revision | Newer revision→' links.
  • Verify that you've selected the desired former version of the page, then click a link to edit the page as you would normally.
  • You'll get a prominent warning, displayed above the edit box, about editing an out-of-date revision.
  • Ignore this warning and save the page. Be sure to add the word "revert" (or "rv") to the edit summary.

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Pseudo Vandalism - Testing the revert feature

In this activity you will attempt a "vandal" entry on your User page and correct this using the revert feature.
NB: You must make sure that this activity is done on your own User page

  1. Make sure you're logged in and go to your user page. (Click on your User name beside the User.gif image at the very top of any page).
  2. Click on the edit tab so you can make a change on your user page. Make sure that you are on your user page.
  3. Enter the following text: "This is a dummy vandal entry"
  4. Click on the "Save page" button. You should now see your pseudo vandal entry on your user page.
  5. Now click on the history tab or link above the content area of your User page
  6. Check that the two most recent edits are highlighted in the radio buttons on the history page. Then click on the "Compare Selected Versions" button.
  7. Your most recent change, i.e. "This is a dummy vandal entry" should be displayed in red text.
  8. Click on the "Older edit" link above the left hand column on your page. This will take you back to the previous version of the page edit.
  9. You can preview to see whether the "vandal text" has been removed by scrolling down the page and checking that it shows the published view of the previous edit.
  10. Assuming you are happy with this version of the page, click on the "edit" link.
  11. Now click on the Save Page button without making any changes.
  12. Congratulations - you have now reverted your page back to a previous version, effectively removing your dummy vandal entry.