MediaWiki offers a collection of special pages and tools to keep track of what is going on in the wiki. So you can watch for example:
- Recent changes to all pages
- newly created pages
- the revision history in the tab of the article: all changes made to one page
- the contributions of one specific user in the link in the top right on top of the page
- Your watchlist in the link in the top right of the page
The most interesting special page is Recent changes. It displays all edits, file uploads, page moves, deletions and other actions done in the wiki. In the menu on top it offers a collection of links to customize your display: limit the number of changes shown, the number of days or restrict it to edits to a certain namespace. You can also hide edits marked as minor (don't forget that major changes can be flagged by a user as minor anyway).
One line in recent changes consists of several links:
- “diff” displays the difference to the previous revision of the page,
- “hist” links to the revision history of the page,
- the link with the full title of the page brings you to the current version. If the title is in bold, it indicates that it is on your watchlist.
Next is a flag describing the article modification type:
- “N” denotes a new page,
- “m” a minor edit,
- “b” an edit made by a bot.
Following the timestamp, it shows the page size difference to the previous revision, then the user is mentioned, with a link to their user page and their talk page and contributions, or to their talk page only in the case of anonymous users. Last but not least, there is an edit summary, appearing in italics, if the user submitted one when they made the edit.
Your watchlist is similar to the “ Recent changes” display, but limited to showing changes only across your set of “watched” pages. Registered and logged in users can see the watchlist display by clicking “my watchlist” link in the top right.
Before you see anything interesting here, you must add some pages to your watchlist. Do this by navigating to a page which interests you, and clicking the “watch” tab.
The watchlist feature is mainly useful on a very busy wiki where the “ Recent changes” display becomes too “high traffic.” On a typical low traffic wiki, you can normally see all of the editing activity across the whole wiki without feeling overwhelmed. On a more busy wiki you will find that many edits are taking place on pages which you personally find less interesting. To help track changes which are more interesting, start watching pages!
Typically you would watch pages related to your interest areas, and also pages where your care most about the content. If you make a significant edit to a page, you might chose to watch the page, to see if there are any follow-up edits for example. Note that there is a “Watch this page” tickbox provided on the editing screen for this purpose.
On the watchlist display, some page names appear in bold. This indicates whether or not you have visited the page to see the change. It's a bit like read/unread emails in an email inbox. The “Recent changes” display will also have some new bold highlighting, but for a different reason. Here bold is just indicating edits to pages on your watchlist.
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Content of this and other "Help" pages was taken and adapted from the Help pages of the MediaWiki.