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Quick pointer to a link or an answer about user sub-pages

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Hi, all.

I'm trying to get more acquainted with the MediaWiki ML (and CSS) and wiki editing in general. I'd like to take advantage of some advanced features (I'm not unfamiliar with MLs — I use the rather complex LaTeX for all serious typesetting, though I mainly learned it via seeing others' examples) in general and prefer writing scripts etc., automating things as much as possible in Matlab (the principal programming/scripting language I use for work/school, and a very high-level and forgiving "language" — far easier than real languages or scripting tools). But I'm no CS or software engineer guy, so I tend to have to ask basic questions and see examples before adapting stuff for my use.

Here's my question: I've noticed on many user pages there exist sub-pages of "sidebars", "templates", etc. What are those? Are they for personal testing, like a /sandbox page (which I'm using)? Or are they handy tools editors can quickly insert into a page instead of retyping all the wiki code relatively?

Is anyone willing to either (a) point me to the proper help section about such things or, even better, show me his/her "tools" and how they're used? I think if I saw an example or two I could pick it up from there.

One last, unrelated question: I'd like to experiment a lot in my sandbox sub-page so I can get acquainted with the MediaWiki ML. I don't, however, want my changes to that page cluttering up the "recent changes" list and obscuring real edits. Is that possible, or must I keep using the "preview" function even on my sandbox?

Thank you!

--Cepstrum 12:50, October 12, 2010 (UTC)

Some of the subpages are for testing, whether for new ideas for layouts for articles, templates, etc, or to keep lists of items "todo" (like mine are). Some subpages are for personal information. It all varies really. In terms of playing in a sandbox, if you do not want to disturb MA, there are some central "sandbox" wikia that you can also play on. -- sulfur 13:18, October 12, 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Sulfur! Can you point me to where this "other sandbox" page I could create is so I can fiddle without confusing things here? Also, are you saying all those /sidebar, etc pages are just for testing and serve no real purpose? One last thing: I'd like to have a "to-do" list. Must I manually maintain one, or do you have some sort of automated or semi-automated method that allows you to add to the list and mark when complete?

Thanks much! --Cepstrum 13:37, October 12, 2010 (UTC)

Some of those sidebar pages are toying around, others are ones that people will put the basic markup there so that they can copy and paste them into other pages. My todo lists are entirely manual. I tend to miss stuff on them.  :)
For sandbox wikia, check out ScratchPad. -- sulfur 14:05, October 12, 2010 (UTC)

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