Acts of Volition


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Jevon -

We have been experimenting with putting a slightly more rigid site structure on top of MediaWiki for a client who basically needs to have a reasonably typical site, but that will be able to change with their audience's needs. The only cost effective way is something like a simplified wiki.

Most of the time so far has been spent taking a lot of the excess out, but we are still hanging on to MediaWiki as it seems to have the best core of all the PHP-Based wiki's we have looked at.

Leons Petrazickis -

We made a fair start, but its origins are still rather obvious. Just tweaked the default theme and made the tabs at the top useful.

Steven Garrity -

Jevon: I've found that a lot of the setup work involves stripping a lot of the ugly wiki UI stuff out of the way as well. If I get the time/energy, I might release a MediaWiki skin that works as a good starting point for a simple-looking/feeling website without all of the Wiki-junk.

James -

Yes, please do! I'd love to be able to shift my whole site over to a wiki. One really cool thing I'd love to do would be the ability to set a certain stylesheet for certain wikipages... Can mediawiki do this?

Merhawie Woldezion -

Please let me know too when you get to it Mr. Garrity. I've been working on a project for a while now but decided that all my work was for naught and I should use mediaWiki.


Sriram Kosuri -

Check out the above site. It was made using a simple script... on top of the wiki page. see the discussion on the talk page for more information on how it was done.
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Dan -

Can someone post a link to a HOWTO on how to modify MediaWiki and use it as simple CMS system?

I have an installation of mediawiki running but I don't know how to alter the layout and design. Any suggestions on where to start?

Steve Knoblock -

My favorite version of Linux uses an adaptation of Mediawiki, which turned my head.

It really hides the wikiness. This led me to consider a wiki for my whole site.

I am still trying to decide between drupal and Mediawiki for my site, which is a collection of random PHP and static pages dating back to 1995.

It would be helpful if there were some clear documentation. The theme and template section of Mediawiki documentation is confusing. I can probably hack it, but I'm going to break something in the process and it would be much easier with a little explanation of what all that gunk in the skin script does. It would nice if they cleanly separated code and template by using Smarty (yes, I believe you can use Smarty with it, but that would just be another obscure learning curve).

Reading some disabled templates in the source, it appears they had problems with PHPTal templating failing to compile (I've not had that problem with Smarty or at least only temporary). The default template is now back to pure php, which is okay with me if they would just separate app logic and template logic into separate files. It is intimidating for non-technical people to edit with class definitions in there. It's not something I enjoy deciphering either, when I am used to going from a mockup to a Smarty template quickly and easily.

BTW I develop for another site,, and I chose Smarty for the platform, so you know where I'm coming from.

Don Farland -

WOW! That was the first word that came to mind when I saw and I long ago decided on MediaWiki for a couple of projects I'm working on, but damn near fainted when I looked closely at 'skinning' the application. I would be extremely grateful for any kind of base template from which I can work.


Ken Walker -

Steven, could you write up a short how-to on this?

Don Farland -

Better yet, is there any chance we can take a look at the PHP file for any of the themes you reference? I've already started to make some progress today on customizing Mediawiki, but there are a couple of things I just can't seem to get right. I understand if there are IP issues, but just thought I would ask.

Dimitrios Kechagias -

Our company website ( recently got ported to wiki. It was after reading this short article and seeing the great examples (Mono and SUSE are my favs) that I realized it would be easy to move beyond the "Wikipedia look".

Jon Dowland -

Notice that the three examples you give are all from the same stable. I was particularly impressed by the beagle site. The mono site has taken some time to get up to the same standard (it languished in "default mediawiki mode" for quite some time).

Jon Dowland -

Uh, yeah. If I read your post more thoroughly, of course I'd notice you are aware they're the same people.

jarret -

Does anyone have any information re. how to embed quicktime movies (ideally linked with a poster frame) within a wiki?

thanks in advance,


ANdrew Barnett -

I have used MediaWiki for the past few months and many people have commented that it looks too much like Wikipedia because I'm using the default monobook.css style and I really want to create my own so that I can customize my whole site that uses MediaWiki, phpBB and Wordpress and I want to create my own template.

Any links to a "how-to" would be appreciated by myself and other.

Pierre Casadebaig -

Just a few words to say that it's hard for non-coding people to build an alternative to the default mediawiki apparence. Are modified mediawiki skins (Mono or Beagle/Arstechnica site) GPL'ed ? Of course, i also raise one hand for a "how-to" to achieve this :°)

Thanks in advance, Pierre

Benjamin P. Keating -

I feel the core code is to complex for it's own good. The templating system is a perfect example of such. phpBB or b2evolution both have very templating systems... esp b2evolution. Why can't mediawiki take on somethng like this? seems even the mediawiki team is confused as to how to explain the templating system.

Benjamin P. Keating -

A good introduction to understanding the skin tech:

Kevin -

Two very simple changes that made a big difference were changing the colors on Monobook by just hacking the CSS and customizing the Sidebar.

Laurence Currie-Clark -

The beagle skin :)

jose -

Would love to read a follow up on this article. I've gutted and rebuilt my blog and PHPBB templates, created CSS that works well across both systems along with my static site. Was planning on fitting the wiki to match, but just realized i may need to start over, reskinning the wiki first. Not sure where to start with wiki styling. Thought it would be more obvious.