Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Understanding the FamilySearch Wiki -- Namespaces

In computer programming, a namespace, sometimes called a name scope, is a term used to refer to an abstract container or environment created to hold a logical grouping of unique identifiers or symbols. In the wiki world, the term is used to refer to a collection of pages, which have content with a similar purpose or where the intended use is the same. Namespaces are essentially partitions of different types of information within the same wiki. All of the wiki pages exist within a namespace and this can be distinguished by using the namespace prefix of a page that forms part of the title of a page, separated with a colon.

Taking my example from the FamilySearch Research Wiki, there are a number of different namespaces including the “Talk” pages. A Talk page is a separate page associated with a main page that is provided to make a place where a discussion or talk can occur about the content of the main page. Here is a list of some of the namespaces in the Wiki:
  • Main
  • Talk
  • User
  • User Talk
  • Project
  • Project Talk
  • File
  • File Talk
  • Template
  • Template Talk
  • Help
  • Help Talk
  • Category
  • Category Talk
You can see how it goes. Learning the functions of each of the namespaces is part of the challenge of learning about a Wiki. The namespaces become part of the names of different pages in the Wiki. 

You do not need to know any of this to merely use the Research Wiki to look up information, but if you start contributing to the Wiki, you will see the need to understand these pages. But if you are searching for information on the Research Wiki, you can choose which of the namespaces you wish to search or search all of them.

More information can be found in the Help:Namespaces page in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

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