Categories and templates

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ka3jjz

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In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed some struggling with the concepts of categories and how we use templates. Perhaps a little explanation is in order

Categories are entities that are created by users, but maintained by the wiki software. They're used to gather articles that pertain to a particular topic. It consists of 2 parts - some text to describe the purpose of the category, and the members that belong to it. If there is no text to describe it, a category would show up in red - I believe this is the wiki's way of saying that this category is incomplete.

You can edit the text description for a category - however, certain categories (such as the ones for Fire Tone Outs) were further broken down by state, and a way was needed to be able to build the same text for each one. As it stands now, we have 43 states/provinces worth of FTO data in the wiki. Copy/pasting the same text over and over is not only tiring, but prone to error as well.

In order to insure that the same text - with slight modifications to insert the name of the state or province - was implemented across each of the 43 categories, a template was developed to do exactly that. It also builds the category links to other categories (yes they can be chained) that are higher in the logical order.

A template would look something like this...

{{FTOText
|State=Maine}}

This particular command can be broken down into 2 parts - the first is the name of the template being called. You can find a complete list of the templates used in our wiki here...

The RadioReference Wiki - Template page

The next part - preceded by the old DOS pipe symbol (shift of \, for those not old enough to recognize the symbol :wink:) is a subsitituion for a variable named 'State'. Any state name or province could be put in its place. This makes it very easy to standardize the text across multiple articles

If you wish to copy a category and add it to our list, you can edit the category - and it you see coding like the statements above, please use it instead of hard-coding some description. Using the templates will keep the various logical chains that have been built for many articles intact and growing.

If you have any questions about categories and templates, please feel free to ask. And to finish up, here are the official MediaWiki pages on both topics

Help:Categories - MediaWiki

Help:Templates - MediaWiki

Mike
 
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