If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free ask Jim via email.


If you're looking for a description of what you can type when you're editing, then you should see the markup syntax page rather than this one.


general info

What is this thing?

Wikiacademia is web application that works like the Wikipedia, but for an academic course rather than an encylopodia.

Why the stupid name?

It's a wiki, it's for an academic setting, and it looks like Wikipedia. You do the math. Besides, software packages are supposed to have stupid names. And no, it doesn't rhyme with macadamia, unless you really want it to.

user accounts

Who can use this?

Most of the content is visible to anyone, however, page editing is usually restricted to faculty and students.

How do I log in?

Click the "log in" button at the top right of the window and do so. At Marlboro College, students and faculty should use their campus email username and password; other sites may have other account policies. Contact the site adminstrator for help. (At Marlboro that's Jim.)

What can I do once I'm logged in?

That depends on which course and page you're visiting, and whether you're a student or faculty in that course. Here's an overview, with some partial URI's.

Why does it say I'm a "guest" for some pages and a "student" for others?

Each page is part of a course whose name is shown at the top left. This page, for example, is in the default "wikiacademia" course. Users may have different roles (guest, student, faculty) in different courses. If you think you should be a student in a course but you aren't, email the site administrator for help.

creating and editing pages

How do I make a new page?

First, you can only create pages in directories that you can edit. If you're a faculty memmber, that's within your course directory. If you're a student, typically that's within the public wiki/ directory or on your own work submission pages.
The basic method is to simply visit a URI for a file that doesn't exist yet. For example, if you're logged into the demo course, then a URI like will let you create the file within the wiki/ directory. If on the other hand you aren't logged in or don't have enough privileges to edit that directory, you'll see a page that says "Oops: the page wiki/" was not found."
A variation on this method is to first create a link to a new page on a page that already exists, say by typing a new page in wiki/sandbox, and then clicking on that link.

How do I edit a page?

If you have permissions to edit a page, you'll see an "edit" tab above the content. Click on that, type some stuff, and then save your work.

How do I delete a page?

Edit a directory or attachment listing, as described below.

What sorts of things can I type?

The wiki markup syntax is described at the markup help page.

How do I add an attachment to a page?

Click the "edit" tab, and then use the form at the bottom of the window. You may have to create the page before you can add an attachment; if it's a brand new page, save it with some content, and then edit it.

Can I save an attachment to an attachment?

Yes. If you upload a file with a .wiki extension then that page can have attachments too. Attachments for a file named are stored in a some_file.attachments/ directory within the same directory as the file.

How do I revert to an older version of a page?

You can only do this if you can have enough privileges to edit the file. If so, click the "history" tab to see older versions. Clicking the "edit" tab while viewing a revision will let you edit the page starting at that revision, replacing the current version. A change to any page on the entire site increments the "site revision number" that subversion (the software that manages the site revisions) uses to mark page revisions.

Can an older version of an attachment or directory be recovered?

Yes, but as of Jan 2006 that can only be done directly from subversion, which is something the site administrator would need to do from the command line.


Depending on your access rights, yes; just visit the course's directory and browse the folders. The "./" link in the navigation menu takes you to the current directory, while the "../" link moves up to the parent directory.
Yes. Visit a directory listing (the same URI as a file, without the filename), and click the edit tab.
Yes, from the same directory listing. Use this with care: deleting a directory will also remove all its files and sub-folders. These can be recovered from the subversion archive, but as of Jan 2007 only by the site administrator from the command line.
Faculty can set any directory to be readable or writeable by all students or specific students; the dialog to do shows up when editing a directory.


What are these course things anyway?

The idea is that each course is a directory on the server containing the materials for a given class. The faculty member for the course can register students, create assignments, grade student work, upload files, and so on. Students in the class can edit the class wiki pages, and follow the assignment links to submit their work, either as wiki text or file attachments.

How do find a course?

There's a list of all courses at /special/courses, which can be filtered by semester like so: ?semester=spring_2006 .

How do I create a new course?

Only the site administrator can create new courses, by filling in the form at /special/course?id=new

What is the "Demo Course?"

It's a site at for people to try out the system and see how it works, either as a faculty member or a student. The logins for those roles are
username | passwd | role ----------- ---------- ------------------------------- tedteacher | teach | role=faculty in courses/course_demo janedoe | test | role=student in courses/course_demo johnsmith | test | role=student in courses/course_demo

assignments and grades

What's with these "assignments" and "grades" links in the navigation menu on the left?

The idea is that in addition to whatever course content or discussion take place within a course, the faculty member can create "assignments" which students can submit work for, and which faculty can grade. All this starts with the assignments page. The process is
Some pictures may help make this clearer.
First, from the student's point of view, here are the assignments, a work submission page, and the grades page.
Second, from the faculty's point of view, here are the assignments (as they're being edited) and the grades grid (clicking on any of these goes to the student's submitted work.)

special pages

What's a "special page"?

Content that's generated dynamically from the database such as class rosters, assignment lists, course lists, and forms are all considered to be "special" pages. There are several types.
First, each course has a page in its home directory which the faculty can change. The navigation menu at the left side of the browser window for all wiki pages within the course is generated from that page, which uses its own
Second there are some special pages that apply to the entire site, all with URI's below the site home directory, such as /site/courses. For the most part these are aimed at the site administrator.
Third, there are special pages that describe or configure one course, with URI's beneath that course's directory, such as course_demo/special/users .

access permissions

How do access permissions work?

Read or write access can be set by directory for groups of people (admin, faculty, student, guest) or for a list of users. By default, most course materials may be seen by anyone and edited only by faculty, except for those under the courses wiki/ directory which may be edited by students. Work submitted by students for assignments and grades may be seen and edited only by that student and the faculty.

Where are these permissions stored?

In files named .access.yaml, using a simple text format. When a file is requested (wiki files, HTML files, image files or whatever), the system finds the first .access.yaml file it can find in the parent directories of that file, and uses the first one it finds. This means that permissions in subfolders, if present, override those in parent folders.

How do I edit these permissions?

Faculty can modify these settings by editing any directory; see the "Directory" discussion above.

the software

Is the software available?

Yes, under an open source license; see for the details.

Who wrote it?

Jim Mahoney. You can read all about it on the poster he presented at Wikipedia's 2006 conference. courses/ help/ index
last modified Monday September 24 2007 3:23 am EDT