Marspedia Tutorials

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Marspedia Tutorials


Tutorial Introduction

What is Marspedia?

Marspedia is an encyclopedia that summarizes topical knowledge about Mars and references where greater detail can be obtained. Marspedia is focused on providing the best source of information about past, present, and future exploration and settlement of Mars, including all of the tools, techniques and technologies that will be needed to do so. This is the goal of The Mars Society and that is why The Mars Society sponsors and manages Marspedia.

This emphasis and focus on the future is what energizes the volunteers of The Mars Society and Marspedia. We hope that you will want to make Marspedia the best source of information on all topics related to exploring and settling the Red Planet.

Are there any requirements to become a member of the Marspedia Team. Other than some comfort in using a browser and text editor on your favorite computer, phone or touchpad and willingness to bring your enthusiasm, there are no formal requirements. We do ask that if you want to contribute to the Marspedia Project, you should continue this series of tutorials to learn how.

Marspedia is a wiki based website.

What is a wiki? Ref: A wiki is a knowledge base website on which users collaboratively modify and structure content directly from a web browser. In a typical wiki, text is written using a simplified wikitext markup language and often edited with the help of a rich-text editor - the VisualEditor in Marspedia and MediaWiki.

MediaWiki is a free and open-source wiki engine. It was developed for use on Wikipedia in 2002, and given the name "MediaWiki" in 2003. It remains in use on Wikipedia and almost all other Wikimedia websites. Its development has been coordinated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Do you have some content to share on Marspedia?

If you are interested in preparing or have already prepared a paper with text, tables and graphics, and you want to add an article to Marspedia, ask yourself these questions: Does it fit in a category included in Marspedia? Go to to examine the hierarchical list of Categories covered in Marspedia. You will want to tag your article with 1-3 of those categories after you add it to Marspedia. In the tutorials that follow we’ll show you how. Are you willing to summarize a long (greater than 3-5 pages) paper into a Marspedia article and reference the full paper stored elsewhere on internet? Why do we ask this question? Because Marspedia is an encyclopedia - not a book, journal, or archive for complete chapters or papers. Are you interested in reviewing and improving the Marspedia content submitted by others

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, then continue with this series of tutorials.

Tutorial A - Getting an Account and Learning about the MediaWiki VirtualEditor (for Marspedia editing)

The best way to add your content to Marspedia or to help us review contributions is to become a member of the Marspedia Project and request an account. Here’s how…

If you haven’t done so already, link to Marspedia and request an account by clicking Guest. Actions are denoted by red circles or boxes in the accompanying figures.

FIG 1 Open Marspedia as Guest

When you select Guest you’ll see a drop-down menu that lets you select Request Account or Log in. Click Request Account if you don’t have one already. You will receive an email notification within a few days that the account is ready for “Log in.”

FIG 2 Login at Guest drop-down menu

Creating a User page

Before you start the Tutorial, we suggest that you create a User page in Marspedia. You are encouraged to set up your User page with a short ID and bio (or anonymous if you choose), list your computer skills/experience, and MarsSociety experience. This will help the Editorial team in seeking members with experience for a particular future project.

You can also use this page as scratch pad to try out editing tools and techniques, and you can always delete scratch space after each session. We’ll show you how.

To get started, Click Help from left menu. In the box that appears, notice the help links in the Editing category, and read the help file about “User page.”

Steps to create a User page.

Type User:<YourUserName> into the top right Search Marspedia box.

FIG Marspedia search box graphic

A page will display indicating that you may create this page. Click on create this page Type in your name or other text into the box. Click Save Page.

Your User:<Yourname> page will be saved and can be edited in the future by searching for User:<YourUserName> in the Search Marspedia box.

Taking a quick look at the Visual Editor

Go to

In preparation for the tutorial that follows, quickly scan the Visual Editor help pages. Notice how similar the menu is to other text editors that you have been using such as MS Word, WordPress, etc. You don’t need to study these pages in depth. The tutorials below will give examples of the editing sequences that you will most commonly use. Note that the wiki help files are on a different wiki website called MediaWiki. You won’t have an account on this site. You’ll simply use the help files and a VisualEditor practice page to try out the editing options in the next Tutorial B.

Tutorial B Getting Started - Editing with the VisualEditor

In Tutorial A, you learned how to create a New page (the User page). In this tutorial you will learn about: Editing a Graphic Editing a Table Inserting a new Table Adding a Cited Reference Adding a text hotlink to an external URL or another wiki page Adding a Cited Reference List at the end of the article Adding a Category to the article

We’ll assume you have completed Tutorial A, so that you have your account ID/password for Marspedia, you have set up a User page which you can use as a scratch pad in the future to try out editing tools, and you have skimmed the User Guide for the Visual Editor.

One of the volunteer activities of the Marspedia Project involves reading newly submitted pages and editing them for improved content, layout, and assigned categories. In this tutorial we’ll take you through examples of editing tools used in that process.

Even if you plan to jump right in and become a contributor of new content for Marspedia, you should follow this tutorial which introduces you to the commonly used editing tools.

Now we’ll use the MediaWiki website to practice some editing. Click this URL Notice the blue box above the Contents box that looks like this…

FIG Graphic of link to test page in the Visual editor User Guide

Click on Here is a page where you can freely test it. In the popup box Click Start editing. A notice drops down to notify you that you are not logged in. That’s OK. You’ll also see this page notice that you can click to reset the sandbox

FIG Notice that the Test page in not permanent. The Sandbox can be reset

Do so. This will remove any previous changes to the page by others and allow you to edit the original page. Then click Start Editing and close the warning box at the x in the upper right corner. Scroll around this VisualEditor:Test page and you’ll see that there are many examples of graphics, tables, lists, equations and even poetry on which to practice our editing.

Let’s look first at the top menu in this VisualEditor.

FIG Top menu of VisualEditor

This is the tool bar you will use to edit. Note: If you have scrolled a page or more into the text , the bar may disappear off the top of the screen, but you can leave your cursor where you want to make an edit and scroll back to the top menu to click on the appropriate editing tool as explained in the examples below.

Hovering over the icons in the tool bar will display the name of the icon. Clicking the carets to the right of an icon will display additional options to choose. The important editing icons are briefly noted here… The Paragraph icon has options that reformat selected text with specific heading levels. The StyleText A icon restyles the characters as bold, subscript, etc. The Links icon (a chain) will add a wiki or external link to selected text The List-Structure icon will create a list of your selected text The Insert Icon allows you to add Graphics, Tables and Cited References at the cursor The Page Options (“hamburger”) icon is used to set Categories The SwitchEditor (pencil) icon allows you to switch to the SourceEditor, described in Tutorial E. The Publish changes blue button will save the editing changes.

Example: Editing a graphic

Click on the Blue Marble graphic Click Edit Click Change Image. Scroll down in the existing image files and find a new graphic like the Visualeditor Parsoid yellow flower to the right and select it.

FIG VisualEditor Parsoid flower

Click Use this Image Click Apply Changes. The new graphic will display. Click Edit in the image dropdown box Click Advanced. Click Center image Change the Custom size of the image to 300 x 172 px Click Apply changes The image is resized and centered and text is above and below it. Note: you can click and drag the image up or down to move it between other lines of text. Try it.

Now Publish Changes Reenter Edit by clicking Edit in the top menu. You should find your flower graphic where you last left it in the text.

Example: Editing Tables

To edit text in the table in the Fantasy Worlds section, double click a table entry in any row/column box and start editing or deleting text. The selected entry shows with a blue background and you’ll notice two carets (arrow heads) to the left of the selected row and to the top of the selected column. By clicking a caret you will see options to add or delete rows or columns to the table. You can also move (exchange) a particular row or column in the table.Try it.

Notice the box below the selected table entry. It looks like this…

FIG Table Delete|Properties

Click Properties. There are options to make the table collapsible and or sortable, although these options don’t manifest themselves until you Save Change to the page and examine it in browser read only mode without the editor. Try making the table collapsible and sortable, saving the changes, and then publishing the changes to see these actions in your browser.

Example: Inserting a new Table

Let’s create a new Table just above the Fantasy worlds section. Use your cursor and the return key to create a few blank lines for entering a table. and park the cursor there. Scroll up to the menu bar and select Insert/Table.

Scroll down to see the 4 column by 4 row blank table. By adding text and eliminating extra rows and columns you should be able to develop this table (shown below) in short order.

FIG Author|Book 3 row table

  • Remember: If you make an editing mistake, leave the page and open it again to reset the sandbox.

Example: Adding a Cited (numbered) reference

In the World Health section, look at the references denoted by brackets and numbers - [1], [2], etc. on this page. These are cited references.

Suppose you have a wikipedia page on “depression” at that you want to reference after the word “depression” at the end of 2nd sentence in 2nd paragraph. Put the cursor after “depression.” Click Insert/more/Basic reference in the VisualEditor top menu, Paste in the URL in the upper box and Click Insert. Notice that this reference has been added as [2] and the others after it have been renumbered. The cited reference has also been added to the Footnotes list at the end of the article.

Example: Adding a hotlink to an external URL to a word or phrase in the text

In the World Health section, select the entire word “depression” at the end of 2nd sentence in 2nd paragraph Click the Insert (chain) icon Click External site Copy the “depression” URL link from the last example ( to the box. Click Done. Note that the word now has a special icon after it. It looks like this The word is now hotlinked to an external URL, but this reference does not appear in the list of cited references at the bottom of the page.

Example: Adding a hotlink to another wiki page to a word or phrase in the text Select the heading “Gallery” above the photos of the planets near the end of this article. Click the Insert (chain) icon Select MediaWiki Type Gallery into the box Click the “Gallery (redirect to Help:images)“ item