Wiki Loves Women Mooc/Building your own profile

So you have decided to join a Gender gap initiative as a local leader, or decided to create your very own activity to reduce the gender gap content or to recruit women to participate to Wikimedia projects. Whether you are a completely newcomer to the Wikimedia movement, or have been around for a little while, it is worth pausing a moment to build a good profile and reflect on how you want to present yourself to your team and to the community in general. An essentiel step in that process is to create a proper UserPage.

What are User pagesEdit

User pages are administration pages in the User and User talk namespaces that are useful for

  • presenting yourself to the other editors, through limited autobiographical and personal content
  • facilitating interaction and sharing between you and the other users
  • and for organizing and aiding the work you do on the wikis.

User pages are mainly for interpersonal discussion, notices, testing and drafts. Be aware that all those pages are public.

User pages are available to users personally for purposes compatible with the project and acceptable to the community (for example, the wiki is not a webspace provider, nor a promotional board); Policies concerning the content of pages can and generally do apply to user pages, and users must observe these policies.

What we call User pages are typically include

  • your UserPage - which is the main space where you can introduce yourself. Your user page has a name like this: User:MyName. (This link is to yours.) Its normal use is to give basic information, if you wish, about yourself or your Wikimedia-related activities. You may also wish to create a global user page that will display on all Wikimedia projects where you have not created a local user page (more on that later);
  • your talk page - which is the space where you can interact with others, where they can leave you a message. You will be notified when someone else edits your user talk page.
  • your sandbox - it is your personal draft space where you can experiment edits (again, the sandbox is public...). The link to your sandbox would typically be User:MyName/sandbox;
  • various subpages - it is where you can further organize your own material, links, memos, essays, and such. You can create these subpages yourself. Keep in mind anyone can see them. You may see how to create subpages here;
  • User script and customization - last, you also have subpages ending in .js and .css to store any user scripts and skin customizations that you may wish to have when you edit Wikipedia. Only you and interface administrators can edit such pages, although anyone can view them. This is really advanced set up.

Your in this context means associated with you, not belonging to you. This is very important... All of these pages are your user pages or user space. While you do not "own" them, by custom you may manage them as you wish, so long as you do so reasonably and within these guidelines.

User pages are naturally only available to editors once they have created an account !

When you create an account, it will be Global and will operate on all projects (Wikipedia, wikibooks, wikimedia commons...) and in all languages (English, French, Hausa...). You may log in all the different projects and all the languages with the same credentials (login and password).

HOWEVER, user pages will be different and separated on all projects. So keep in mind that if you are active on the English Wikipedia only, you nevertheless will have user pages in Hausa. And if you participate in both English and Hausa, you can have a different profile page in English and in Hausa.

In the rest of this topic, we will only talk of a very specific page with your user space, the UserPage.

Why is it important to have a good profile on your UserPageEdit

By default, after you created your account, the UserPage will not be created. You will need to take care of that. Until the UserPage is created, any edits you make to the wiki will be attributed to you, but the editors will see a red link instead of the blue link where your UserName is displayed, thus heavily signaling you as a brand new editor. Whilst this is considered ok when you are a brand new participant, it will be poorly perceived once you are a regular.

The way the community operates is a lot by meritocracy and precedent. It is possible for anyone to become a respected editor. However, it takes time. When editors do not know you yet, and see you editing, or participating to a discussion, submitting a grant request, calling for help etc. they will look for information to evaluate your worth and your seriousness. The following are examples of how they will look for contextual information about you.

  • is there a UserPage or not ? (red link or blue link). Any long-term participant would be expected to have one. Not having a UserPage is a signal of you being a newbie, having not build a reputation yet;
  • if there is a UserPage, what's on it ? The content displayed on it will give them context;
  • what about the talk page ? they will also look at your talk page. Are they messages there ? What do those messages say about you ? Any special criticism ?
  • what about contributions ? they will look at your contributions (remember that all your contributions are public). Which projects do you participate to ? Which languages? How often do you participate ? Only in the article space or rather in the discussion space ? Are you involved in controversies etc.
  • and more generally, what about global contributions ? finally, they can also look at your global contributions, which will give them a measure of your own dedication to the mouvement. For your information, you can track that using this tool : or that tool : or that one :

Obviously, the UserPage is only ONE element amongst others... but it is an important element for other editors to get a sense of who you are and how much attention they should give you.

Recommended reading or experimenting

UserPage: locally and globallyEdit

So, as mentionned above... you may have as many userpages as there are projects. When you participate only to the English Wikipedia, then it makes sense to only create a UserPage on the English Wikipedia. If you participate to several languages, one UserPage by language you are involved in seemed to be best. If you participate to international initiatives and are active on meta, it is ALSO a good idea to have a profile on meta. Of course, it can get fairly complicated to update all that.

What's the best strategy ? There are several options.

  • ou may decide to have only ONE main UserPage (for example on the English Wikipedia) where everything is centralized. Then you may create the UserPage in another language where you are sometimes active (let's say Hausa), with a super simple one-line presentation and a link to your main UserPage on the English Wikipedia.
  • or you may decide to have as many UserPages as there are wiki spaces where you are active. This might make sense if you are both a big contributor to the English Wikipedia and to Wikimedia Commons as you may wish to highlight different elements of your profile
  • or you can create a w:en:Wikipedia:Global user page, which will be displayed by default each time there is no UserPage. You may check where you have or have no UserPage here :

IMPORTANT : when you create a UserPage on meta, be aware that this is the page that will be displayed by default on all wikis where you have no UserPage. So it is suggested to invest a bit of time in the quality of your meta page.

Recommended reading or experimenting

What should you generally put on your UserPageEdit

Importantly, there is no fixed use for user pages, except that usually one's user page has something about oneself, and one's talk page is used for messaging. Provided other users can quickly and easily find the pages they need, users may, within reason, freely organize their user pages as they choose.

Users may include a user page notice on their own user pages. Placing the template {{User page}} at the start of a user page clearly identifies the nature of the page for readers, and also helps if people find the labeled page in Mirrors and forks of Wikipedias. Additional benefit to use this template on your meta page is that it is localized (on your Hausa Wikipedia page, it will appear in Hausa).

Legitimate uses of user pageEdit

  • Significant disclosures (voluntary but recommended)
    • Things other editors may find helpful to understand, such as if your account in an alternative accounts (if publicly disclosed)
    • If you are editing for or on behalf of a company, organization, group, product, or person (etc.) which you wish to be open about in order to gain a good working relationship with the editing community.
  • Notes related to your Wikimedia work and activities - current or planned articles, topic areas, to-do lists, reminders, articles worked on, Barnstars and other successes, collaborative works, draft proposals, (constructive) thoughts on articles or policies and how they should be changed, expansion and detailed backup for points being made (or which you may make) in discussions elsewhere on the wiki, being member of UserGroup or involved in a wikiproject etc.
  • Useful links, tools, and scripts (though often in a subpage)
  • Personal writings suitable within the Wikimedia community - reasonable Wikipedia humor, essays and perspectives, personal philosophy, comments on matters, other disclosures, statements of congratulations or condolences for major events (especially if related to wikimedia activity), pictures from Wikimedia Commons, favorite Wikipedia articles, or quotes for inspiration
  • Experimentation (but those are usually on subpages or in the sandbox)
  • Limited autobiographical content - For example, languages you know (see w:en:Wikipedia:Babel) or fields you have knowledge in. Userboxes, for example, are welcome. They are fun little boxes you can put in your user page to express yourself. They are rectangular and usually contain a picture and text.
  • A small and proportionate amount of suitable unrelated material,
  • Contact information : you are also welcome to include a simple link to your personal home page, although you should not surround it with any promotional language. However, if a link to your home page is the only thing on your userpage, this may be seen as an attempt at self-promotion.

Not your page but a page about youEdit

You do not own the page, it is a page about you, thus it can be edited by others
This is an important part to remind. Usually, you will be the only one editing your UserPage, but it is not forbidden to others to edit it.
Others may edit your user pages, for instance awarding you a barnstar or leaving notes and images for you, or adding comments and questions, or fixing typoes. In general, one should avoid substantially editing another's user and user talk pages, except when it is likely edits are expected and/or will be helpful.

Last, User pages are also used for administrative purposes, to make users aware of blocks, warnings, notices, or other sanctions if they happen. Your UserPage may be edited by bots. If you are concerned by such a situation, you should not remove those warnings ;)

Personal and privacy-breaching materialEdit

Some people add personal information such as contact details (email, instant messaging, etc.), a photograph, their real name, their location, information about their areas of expertise and interest, likes and dislikes, etc. Once added, this information is unlikely to ever become private again. It could be copied elsewhere or even used to harass you in the future. You are cautioned to think carefully before adding non-public information to your user page because you are unlikely to be able to retract it later, even if you change your mind.

Privacy-breaching non-public material, whether added by yourself or others, may be removed from any page upon request, either by administrators or (unless impractical) by purging from the page history and any logs by oversighters.

Real name issuesEdit

Should you mention your real name?
This is really entirely up to you. Many editors are only known by their pseudonyms and that did not prevent from building an awesome reputation and being very well integrated in the community. Other editors want to mention their real name. Your choice.

Gender issuesEdit

The term "gender gap" was first coined by Eleanor Smeal in the 1980s to describe patterns in voting differences between men and women in the U.S. presidential elections. Today, the term may be used to note specific differences in the labor market, or broader disparities across areas such as health, politics, and education. Essentially, using the term "gender gap" signals a discrepancy in patterns between men and women.

Wikipedia's "gender gap" has been framed as a lack of female contributors resulting in biased and skewed content as well as different editing experiences. The initiatives to fight the gender gap may involve content creation but often also involve recruitment, training, or support of new participants, in order to increase the diversity of participation. It may be relevant to your project to know the gender of its members.

You might be happy to know that the interface allows you to signal how you would prefer to be described. There are three options, defined in the account preferences, tab User Profile

  • They edit wiki pages (When mentioning you, the software will use gender neutral words whenever possible) - default
  • She edits wiki pages
  • He edits wiki pages

You may also consider adding your preferences on your User Page, so as to limit the risk of the other users using the wrong gender when talking to or about you. For example, some User Pages include the fact the favored pronom is She/Her

Formatting your UserPageEdit

Again, you have the choice to format and present the UserPage pretty much the way you choose (provided that it respects the guidelines above mentionned). You may keep the formatting very simple or build your own sophisticated display.

But there are templates created to simplify your life.

Understanding templatesEdit

Templates are meant to help you. At first, you will probably consider them scary, but once you understand how they work, they can really cut the hassles off.

The contents of one page can be placed onto another page by using a template. Fundamentally, you may consider there are two wiki pages. One is being litterally included in the other one. We call this process transclusion.
There are several uses for templates.

Templates without parameters

First, a template can be used when the same bit of information is meant to be used in many other pages. Some templates are litterally used in thousands of pages. Instead of duplicating and copy pasting the content, you put the content in one page and you simply add the template to your page. The content will be displayed automatically. If the template content is updated, then all pages using that template will automatically be updated.

A typical example of such template is {{User page}}. Placing that code {{User page}} at the start of your user page will automatically display a paragraph explaining that this page is a UserPage.

You may be confused by the title of those templates. This is indeed confusing. Remember that ANY page can be used as a template as soon as it is put within curved brackets. Sometimes, editors create the template as a regular wiki page in the main space (so the page name will be ThisIsATemplate). Sometimes editors create the template in the template space, so that page will have a name such Template:ThisIsATemplate. Do not let that bug you. On Wikipedia, rules will be strict and templates should be in template space. But on meta... rules are way more relax.

In this case, the page including the template is named template:user page. If you wanted to link it in your page, you would simply use square brackets. To use it as a template, use curved brakets. That's it !

The Userboxes that will be described below are also templates that users simply add as-is in their userpage.

Templates with parameters

More advanced templates are templates that will take parameters. In this case, the template is not meant to be a similar content used in many places, but to provide a similar appearance with your specific content. In this case, when adding the template to your page, you will need to provide values for the parameters. Some parameters are mandatory whilst others may be optional. Values may be of different types, such as string of text, picture name, value etc. This is explained in details on template pages, often with examples.
An example of such complex template is Template:Infobox User. In this template for example, you can specify the color of the box, with the parameter color, to which you will provide a value (in this show case lightblue). This type of template is very versatile and can give you many possibilities for different displays, whilst not having to bother too much about the actual wikicode required.

Note that templates can

  • either be added in Edit source mode, such as {{User page}}
  • or directly in Visual Editor mode.

It is up to you to do it in Wikicode or using the VisualEditor. Both solutions work.

An element important to note though is that templates are specific for each wiki. Each linguistic community has developed its own template sets. To find your preferred template, a solution is to look at other editors pages, and when you find a design that pleases you, click on edit the page and find the name of the template. Reminder, a template can be recognised because it is in curved brackets (such as {{TemplatePageName}}.

More info about templates on meta : Help:Template


It may be found here : Template:Userpage

This is a highly recommended template. It is fairly simple and simply allow to identify your page as a User Page, which is very practical when it is displayed in Mirror or Forks websites.

You can use it on all wikis (English wikipedia, French wikipedia, meta...) and the language of the text will adapt to the reader preferences.

{{Template:Infobox User}}Edit

It may be found here : Template:Infobox User

This template can be used on your UserPage to format its content. To see examples of how this template is used on meta, go to the left hand side navigation box and look for the link What links here. Click there. On that page, you will have a list of all current User Pages using that template. Explore...

{{Template:User info}}Edit

It may be found here : Template:User info

This template has been created after the above mentioned one, in particular to facilitate the life of Wikimedia Foundation staff members. It is now widely used by many meta editors. It is more straightforward than the Infobox User. Simpler, but less options.

Similarly, if you want to see how it is used on other people pages, click on the What links here link on the left navigation box.

How and why adding userboxes to your profile ?Edit

Userboxes are special templates which may be added to your profile to enhance it.

A userbox is a small colored box designed to appear only on a Wikipedian's user page as a communicative notice about the user, in order to directly or indirectly help Wikipedians collaborate more effectively.

The first userboxes were introduced to support the Babel inter-language effort by indicating the skills of users in other languages.

Be mindful that like anything else you add to the wiki, userboxes you add will likely be public forever, even if you later have your user page deleted. So be careful when adding controversial userboxes and userboxes revealing information you would prefer to keep private.

How to find the right userboxesEdit

There are many userboxes available accross the projects. But you need to keep in mind that userboxes are wiki specific. A userbox may exist in English, but not in French and vice-versa. There are huge lists on the English wikipedia. The meta list is tiny in comparison.

How can you find out the userbox you want to put on your page ? two options...

  1. you run into a cool userbox on another editor userpage. If you want to have that one, the best option is to edit the page of the editor, grab the code (the name of the box) and paste it on your own user page
  2. you can look into the many userboxes created by users over the last years and collect the one you are interested in

Here are some link to userboxes lists

Adding one userbox to your userpageEdit

There are two main ways you can add a userbox to your userpage

  • the transclusion. The standard syntax for adding a userbox to your user page is: {{user name_of_box}}.. Benefits are the transclusion are that 1) whenever the userbox is updated, it will be updated for all the users of this infobox and 2) very little code on your user page
  • the substitution. You may decide to substitute the template code onto your user page using the syntax {{subst:user name_of_box}}. The use of "subst:" will ensure that the template is always displayed in its form when you add it to your user page (i.e. it will not reflect subsequent edits to the template). This method will lead to large amounts of code on your user page.

Adding many userboxes to your userpage :)Edit

There are several techniques. But the easiest one is to put this code onto your user page.

 This user has a page on french Wikiquote.
{{User Nigerian commons photographers}}
{{User Wikiquote fr}}

Creating your own userboxEdit

Anyone can create their own userboxes. A typical case as a project lead will be to propose to your team a userbox related to your UserGroup, or to your initiative. If so, several options are possible

  1. start your creation from the template ! Template:Userbox
  2. identify a Userbox you like, copy its code and transform it to do your own Userbox
  3. use Userbox_Maker
  4. or use the super simple userbox maker
  5. ask help... (see here on the English wikipedia)

This template can be used to quickly create a userbox for display on a user's user page without having to know HTML or Wikitable syntax.

Additional readings and linke

The Babel boxesEdit

User language
ru-N Русскийродной язык этого участника.
en-5 This user has professional knowledge of English.
fr-1 Cet utilisateur dispose de connaissances de base en français.
Users by language

Babel boxes are arguably one of the most important element of a User Page, in particular on meta. They are used throughout the projects.

User language boxes list the languages a Wikimedia editor is comfortable communicating in, and their proficiency. This improves communication across the diverse community, both directly and by helping find interpreters and translators.

You can add user information to your user page by inserting code like this:


This outputs the boxes you see at right. You can add as many languages as you want, in the form language code-proficiency level.

Language code

The extension recognizes standard ISO 639 (1–3) language codes. You can find your language by searching the list of ISO 639-1 codes.
The proficiency describes how well you can communicate in the language. It's indicated by a single character from the Proficiency column in the table below:
Proficiency Meaning
0 You don't understand the language at all (or can understand it with considerable difficulty).
1 You can understand written material or simple questions.
2 You can edit simple texts or participate in basic discussions.
3 You can write in this language with some minor errors.
4 You can speak like a native speaker (though it's not your birth language).
5 You have professional proficiency; you understand the nuances of the language well enough to translate advanced documents.
N You are a native speaker of the language and have a thorough grasp of it, including colloquialisms and idioms.

Babel links

Some gender gap related userboxes and barnstars availableEdit

 This user is a member of Wiki Loves Women.
 This editor was a wonderful help in the SheSaid campaign !

On the English Wikipedia

On the French Wikipedia

On meta

Barnstar category on Commons

Test your knowledgeEdit

The best way to test your understanding of what is explained above is to actually create or improve your own user page, using the above elements. Do not forget to ask a friend or two some opinion about your userpage !