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Before you start reading through this FAQ, you might want to check out the big FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions for those unused to the lingo) at MediaWiki or Wikipedia's How to Edit Page, the big sites that makes a living off of wiki's. Their sites have far more on it than we ever could. However, if we can answer your question, we'll try.

If this FAQ does not have the answers to the questions you need, try going to our forums and asking your question there. If it's a good question it'll probably end up here for others to learn from as well.

Our Wiki

What is this site all about?

This site is designed to be a help for pastors and Christian leaders. There are so many things that pastors have to deal with week after week. None of us have all the knowledge we could use. We all run short of inspiration and ideas sometimes.

This site is a place where pastors can pool resources and ideas so that when we are strong we can share, and when we are weak we can get help. We're trying to look beyond just our local church and instead allow what we have already done to be used for the Church as a whole. It was designed by pastors, for pastors, and if you have something you need as a pastor that we can provide but aren't, post the idea in our forums and we'll see what we can do.

What is a Wiki? Why does it matter?

"Wiki" is the Hawaiin word for "fast". In today's terms, a wiki is a site that allows a community of people to quickly imput information and ideas about a subject. A wiki is not the software, but the idea itself. The idea is that we don't have to wait for one person to give us all the information. Instead, everyone is valuable and can contribute easily to the community's knowledge.

That is what we are trying to do here. Most sites for pastors are run by a few people who post all of the information themselves. The material is limited by the people involved. With a wiki, everyone who has something to offer can share it with the other people of the community. That means that the potential content and potential usefulness for individual pastors shoots through the roof.

Is this site connected with any one denomination?

Not technically, no. The original founders of this site are pastors in the Church of the Nazarene, which is a Protestant denomination within the Wesleyan perspective. However, that is just what the founders are members of, anyone can participate and join in.

Faith is something we all hold dearly too, and we all have differences in what we believe. But we agree in the majority of things, and often we can learn more from those who hold slightly different perspectives more than from those who exactly agree with us. Any Christian leader is welcome to join in the discussion, because I truly believe that every leader has something to offer.

Is this site free?

Yes, this site is free to all users, though of course we have to pay to host it. You won't be charged for anything on this site. You may join, post, edit, and everything else for free.

If there is something that you find on this site that you can use in your ministry please do. You don't need to pay us or do anything special for us, but we do ask that you not sell anything that is on this site unless you were the original creator to begin with. Also, any duplication that is not for ministry purposes (ie Christian service) is not allowed.

I have a question, how can I contact someone?

There are two different ways to easily contact someone. First, use the Forums or email us at admin(@)helpforshepherds.org, without the parenthesis of course.

I use MediaWiki, but not like this. What extensions do you use?

This is definitely a modified version of MediaWiki. We have done some modifications on our own, but most of it has been done through the wonderful work of other people and their extension. The extensions we use, and why, are as follows:

  • Paul Gu's Dropdown for our site skin, highly modified. The design of the site itself was made by Icon Communication.
  • EmbedVideo for our ability to embed videos from other sites.
  • Mp3 for our little streaming flash player for mp3 files.
  • JSKitRating provides the coding to use JSKit's five star rating system on our site.
  • JSKitPoll allows us to use JSKit to create polls on our site.
  • WikiArticleFeeds gives us the ability to make our own wiki blogs that you can subscribe to via RSS feeds.
  • Cite is the extension we use to enable footnotes and citations.
  • Rename user is an extension that allows us to rename any user's account if they need it.
  • New User Log is what we use to list the users of the wiki in order of appearance.
  • AWC Forum gives us the ability to have discussion forums within the wiki itself.
  • BibleRef is the extension that allows us to type in a Bible reference and have it link to the correct passage of scripture at BibleGateway.
  • ParserFunctions is what we use to be able to add and subtract, as well as make complex code like "it then" type of queries.
  • Semantic Mediawiki is an incredible extension that allows organizing information far easier based on semantic notation.
  • Semantic Forms is the extension that allows us to create templates and forms for use in posting message ideas and more.
  • reCaptcha is the extension we use to try and cut down on spam, it allows a captcha to appear when a new account is made, or some specific page types are created.
  • Replace Text is used to allow an Admin to replace any set text found anywhere in the site with something else. Helpful for changes in terminology or organizational structure to be easily found and replaced.
  • We also use a number of security/anti-bot extensions, including Title Blacklist, Spam Blacklist, Simple AntiSpam, AntiBot, and a few others.

For a complete list of extensions and what versions of each we run, see Special:Version

General Wiki Stuff

Who's running this?

That depends on what you mean. If you mean, who is managing the site and hosting it, that would be pastors Brian and Jon. If you mean who is adding content and guiding the direction of the site, that would be you. Each person can add to the site and through your ratings you can determine what is good and what isn't.

Can anyone change my edits?

Yes, anyone can change your edits. There are a few pages that are protected, but they are very rare. When you post here, you have to be prepared to let others add their thoughts to yours and even change some things. If you have an article or essay that you do not want modified at all, then posting it as a pdf file would be the best option.

Most of the time, though, people will respect your posts and not edit them. If you do edit something because it is really out there, try to be polite and we'll do the same. If you have a different opinion about something, put it as an alternate idea instead of deleting the other post. If you have a question about whether something is appropriate or accurate, use the discussion section of each page to talk about it before changing it on the main page.

But yes, in the end it is possible to edit and even delete anything you post. Or anything I post. Even this sentence you're reading now. That's part of what we are doing here, trusting each other. Trust isn't something we're really used to, but if we are to learn from each other we have to trust each other. The wiki formatting forces us to trust each other when we put our thoughts out there for others to see, read, and even edit. I promise I will try to be worthy of your trust.

Who owns the content I put on this site?

That is a difficult question to answer. Basically, you still own what you post but by posting you are giving us the right to host those things on this site and edit them or reproduce them as we or our users see fit. Don't worry, we won't be selling them or anything like that, and no one else is allowed to either. You don't give up ownership or copyright of what you write, but you share it with us and allow us to change it (usually). More importantly, by posting on this site you are saying that you will allow any Christian leader to reproduce your work for non-profit use in their particular church setting.

This is complicated because nearly every page is meant to be a collaboration, not a single person doing their thing alone. So sorting out whether you own everything but the two corrected spellings and the last paragraph on a specific page is just ridiculous. You can claim the pride of what you wrote, and you can freely reproduce what you posted here other places, but for many pages, sole ownership cannot easily be claimed by anyone. However, curriculum, images, Liturgy, scripts, etc are all still the original author's, all copyright still applies. See Mediawiki:Copyright for a (slightly) more in depth discussion of copyright.

What is a User Page and how do I use it?

When you create an account, you automatically create a user page in your user name. These pages can be accessed through the “special pages” tab on the sidebar, then “more” and finally “user list.” Or you can just go to Special:userlist.

The page associated with your user name is all yours. Feel free to post about yourself, your interests, your theology, or nothing at all. As always, however, be careful about giving away too much information about yourself on the web.

General Editing

How do I edit a page?

When you are logged in, there will be a section tright under the banner titled “edit.” Just click that and you will be taken to a page where the entire page you were on is in a wordpad format that can be edited. When you have made your changes, click “save changes” at the bottom of the page and whatever changes you made will be immediately applied.

Please note that you can only edit the page that you are currently on, and there are a few pages that are protected to only certain users.

Why can't I edit something?

Well, to begin with you might be on a page that needs you to be logged in to edit. On the upper right of the screen is a button that says “log in”. Click that to create an account, or to log in if you already have one.

If you are logged in and still can't edit a page, then it is probably one of the few pages that is protected. These pages are the main page, the pastor's welcome, and the main worship page with topics for coming weeks. If you are on one of those pages, you will not be able to edit them.

There are also "special pages" that can't be edited. These are automatically generated pages that the wiki produces and no one can edit them, they just report the facts.

How do I make a new page?

There are several ways to make a new page. The easiest is to make a new link with your page title, ie [[New Page]] and then follow that link (it should be in red if the page doesn't exist). That will make a new page.

Another way is to search for your page title. If it doesn't exist an option will come up to make it. Be careful about this way, however, as that page will not be linked to anything else and no one will be able to find it.

I just messed up a page, is there any way I can fix it?

Of course there is. We don't want you to be paranoid with your edits. Go for it. If the edit doesn't work, here's what you need to do. When you're logged in, on the sidebar is “Page history” underneath “context.” This brings up a list of all the modifications for that page. You can compare them, undo them, whatever you need to do. But even if you accidentally delete the entire page all is not lost.

If you think you have messed up something and don't know how to fix it, post that in the forums and someone will investigate and fix the problem if there is one.

I just posted something, why isn't is appearing in the lists?

If you added a new page, whether up to 24 hours to see your idea in all of the lists. But take heart, it will happen. It just takes a bit for everything to cycle through. If you need to edit what you wrote before then, go to Special:Recentchanges and click on the change you made.

How do I add a signature to my edit?

In a lot of places, especially in the discussion pages, you will want to make sure to point out who it is that is adding content. This is very simple to do. On the edit box there is a button that looks like a cursive signature. Click that. The html way is to type --~~~~

How do I make an internal or external link?

There are two different types of links, ones that link to another page in this wiki and ones that lead to places outside of this wiki.

[[X]]makes whatever is between the brackets an internal link to another site within the wiki. You can know what a page's title is by what is the large heading on the top of the page. If the page does not exist, following this link will create a new page.

[X] makes an external link where "X" is the website address. Make sure this is in standard http://www format. If you want a title to the link put it after the address and a space, [X Y] so that X would be the address, and Y would be the title.

For more fancy stuff, use a | to divide a link so that the title of the page is before and what you want people to see is after it. So [[X|Y]] would read Y but lead you to X.

How do I point an internal link to a subheading?

Sometimes making a link to an entire page isn't enough, and you want to link to a specific section of that page. To do that is very similar to using a standard internal link with a little extra added on. [[Site Page#subheading|What you want people to read]].

Note that this only works to bring you to ==X== pages, or further subheadings under that. So make sure your #subheading is what is exactly between the equal signs.

What are some basic formatting commands?

There are quite a few, actually. Here are some of the most commonly used ones. For specific coding for media see the sections on the appropriate media. You can also check out MediaWiki for their help with formatting.

  • Three apostrophes on either side of a word is bold.
  • Two apostrophes on either side of a word is italics.
  • <big>X</big>makes whatever is in between the “bigs” a larger font.
  • ==X==makes whatever is between the equal signs a subheading that can be jumped to and edited independently. Using three equal signs on each side makes it a further reduced subheading underneath the double sections.
  • * turns whatever follows into a bulleted list.
  • You probably won't use this one much, but it's all over this page. *<nowiki>X</nowiki> means that even if "X" would normally do something special it just acts like text.

I want to cite my reference, how can I make a footnote?

Very commendable to cite, thank you. We definitely want to encourage that. Here is an example of how you would cite. Right after what you want cited put<ref>What you want cited</ref> Then where you want the footnote to appear (usually the end of the page) put <references/> That's it.

Is there an easy way to cite the Bible?

This is a Christian website after all, so yes we do have that extension. Just add this code <bible>Book:Verse-verse</bible> This will automatically create a link to Bible Gateway. See <bible>Ephesians 6:8-18</bible> as an example of what this looks like.

Uploading and media

For all image file help there is a great section on MediaWiki's Help section on Images and altering them in a wiki.

How do I upload a file?

There are two ways, the first is edit a page and create a link for the file using [[Image:X]] or [[Media:Y]] formatting with the name and extension of the file you are going to upload. Then follow that link and it will lead you to the official upload site and follow the instructions from there. That will automatically link your media to that page.

The second way is to go down to the bottom of the page to "Upload file" and follow the instructions there. You will have to make a link to your newly uploaded file in a page before anyone can see it.

If you are uploading an image to be used on the Image page, please see Uploading Images for the appropriate template to use to get the images to show up in all the right places.

Why can't I upload my file?

There are several answers. The first is that for some reason we have accidentally set permissions so that you can't. If that is the case I apologize.

The second possibility is that the type of file you are trying to upload is not recognized. Right now we only recognize .png, .jpg, .gif, .doc, .avi, .wmv, .mp3, .pdf, .ppt, .pps., .mpg., .mov, and .mpeg extensions for uploads. If the file you are trying to upload is not one of these we won't recognize it. Try converting it or posting a request in the forums so that we can add the format you need.

I want to embed a video. How?

This will seem quite complicated the first time you try it, but once you do it once or twice it'll be second nature to you. We support embedded video from: DailyMotion, Funny or Die, Google Video, Seven Load, Revver, and of course YouTube.

To embed a video use this code {{#ev:site|IDnumber}}. Different sites have different ways of identifying their videos. YouTube Id's can be found as the last random letters and numbers of the video's web address after “v=”.

So to embed a video of the short movie “Elephants Dream” you would type {{#ev:youtube|bsGEWHNJ3s8}}. If this still doesn't make sense, look at this site here

I want to stream a sound file. How?

This is much simpler than linking videos. You can upload an mp3 through the wiki and then just put <mp3>filename.mp3</mp3>. Or if the file is linked somewhere else on the web put <mp3>web address</mp3> This will stream that file with a flash based widget on the page. But it does not label the music, so make sure to put a title somewhere else.

Also, this only accepts mp3's, not wma or any other format. We have limited space on our server so please be considerate when uploading media.

How do I make a gallery of my pictures?

Sorry about having to upload them individually, there really isn't any way around that. But you don't have to show them individually. We have a basic gallery feature set up, and are intending on adding a better one.

To create a gallery, just put in this code: <gallery> Image:X Image:Y </gallery>

Of course fill in your image names in place of X and Y. You can make as large of a gallery as you want. To create titles for your images use this format: Image:X|Title. If you want a title for your gallery, or want to sort the gallery by rows it goes like this: <gallery caption=”My Gallery's Title” perrow=”X”> where “X” is the number or pictures per row you want for your gallery.

How can I resize an Image or make a thumbnail?

If you want to resize an image, just add the pixel size you want to the end of the image. So [[Image:Look at me.jpg]] becomes [[Image:Look at me.jpg|100px]] Note that you can only shrink an image, you cannot enlarge it beyond its pixel size. This does not create a thumbnail with borders and everything else, however, but only a shrunken image.

Another option is to create a thumbnail of an image. This is done by adding a “|” and then “thumb” after the name of the image, but before any pixel width like this: [[Image:Look at me.jpg|thumb]]

How can I resize an Image or make a thumbnail?

If you want to resize an image, just add the pixel size you want to the end of the image. So [[Image:Look at me.jpg]] becomes [[Image:Look at me.jpg|100px]] Note that you can only shrink an image, you cannot enlarge it beyond its pixel size. This does not create a thumbnail with borders and everything else, however, but only a shrunken image.

Another option is to create a thumbnail of an image. This is done by adding a “|” and then “thumb” after the name of the image, but before any pixel width like this: [[Image:Look at me.jpg|thumb]]

How can I move an image on the page?

An image without sizing defaults to the center of the page. A thumbnail defaults to the right of the page. You can change this by adding a bit of text after our image like this: [[Image:Look at me.jpg|left]]. The commands available are “left”, “right”, and “center”.

Make sure to use “show preview” to make sure it works before you save it, though. It is easy to make a mistake with something like this and its easier to check and fix it before you post.

How do I add a caption to my image?

If you want to describe your picture, which is a good idea, then add it to the end with the standard “|” and then your captions. [[Image:Look at me.jpg|left|thumb|This is a picture of me]] Make sure it's at the end of whatever other commands you are adding in there.

Where did the Images in the banners come from?

The images used in this site's banners were taken by photographer Jayna Bergerson on a trip to Israel in 2009. If you wish to use any of them they may be available on request for some situations.