Help:Posting stories

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Shifti's primary purpose is as an archive for works of fiction, specifically stories containing physical transformations of various sorts. The posting of stories of this genre is welcomed and encouraged. To make it easier to keep everything properly organized, the following guidelines are provided:

Create a user account

Every edit to Shifti is labeled with the username of the person who performed it. This is important for keeping track of who wrote what; if you want to post a story you should create an account and make sure you're logged in before doing so. You won't need to provide any personal information unless you choose to, all that's required is that you come up with a unique user name for yourself and provide a password. To create an account:

  1. Click the "log in/create account" link in the upper right corner of the page
  2. Click the "create account" link on the login page
  3. Fill in the mandatory username and password fields. Your username can include spaces, there's no need to make it all one word.
  4. Fill in an email address you can be reached at. This is optional, but highly recommended since if you lose your password Shifti can send a new one to you here. It will not be given out to other users or publicly displayed.
  5. The "real name" field is also optional, but is recommended for authors who would like to ensure that their work is properly attributed.

Every user gets his or her own user page and user talk page; the user page is a free-form "homepage" that you can design any way you like, for example providing a list of your stories or links to other web sites. Your user talk page is intended as a public bulletin board where other users of Shifti can post comments for you to read and respond to. You can reach your userpage by clicking on your own nickname at the very top of any Shifti page, along with your preferences, your watch list, and so forth.

Create a new page

Posting new stories to a wiki requires creating a new page first. Doing this can be nonintuitive. There are two methods:

  • Enter the title of your story directly into your browser's address bar.
  • Create a new link with the title of your story on a pre-existing page (such as your userpage). This is the preferred method as it ensures the story isn't orphaned and ensures that the page's URL is properly formatted.

We discourage using the first method, since it creates what are called "Orphan Pages" that are not linked to from anywhere on the site. The second method will be described in detail.

Do not upload your story via the "Upload File" link on the lower left. File upload is intended for use with images.

Creating New Pages by Making Links

You can experiment at Shifti:Sandbox if you wish to see how this process works before trying it on your user page. Editing and page formatting conventions are located on the Help:Editing page, but the basics will be described here.

  1. Every page on Shifti has several tabs along the top. One of these is the Edit tab. We suggest starting on your own user page, as described above. Click on that, and...
  2. The next screen will be the basic Edit box where you can add and delete text.
  3. Create a new link by putting the title of your story in brackets: [[The Thing With the Cheese]]. Use Show Preview to see what it looks like before you save it.
  4. Once the page has been saved, the link you have created will be red: The Thing With the Cheese. Red means there is no content on that linked page, but the blank will have the title of your story. A link with content will be blue.
  5. Click on the red link, you will find a page empty of content, but it will have the title of your story. This defaults to the Edit Page screen. Before you paste in your story, there are a couple of simple wiki formatting commands you should know:
    • Italics are indicated with two single quote marks in front and behind the text. ''Like this''. Like this. Boldface are three single quotes:'''. '''And shows up like this'''. And shows up like this. For a combination of both boldface and italics, use five single quotes on each side. A Find and Replace in you word processor should take care of it. Alternately, HTML italics tags will also work; if your story is already formatted in HTML you can just paste the body directly in.
    • Paragraphs are separated by a blank line. Hit enter twice to create a paragraph break.
    • A line that starts with a space is rendered as "preformatted" text, which will be in a fixed-width font with a dotted border around it. This is a common unintentional glitch made even by experienced editors when copying and pasting large amounts of text.
  6. Make sure you Preview your story to see how it looks. When you first start out, the Shifti Administrators will help you out with formatting. You can also use the Find and Replace function in your word processor if you're using _underscores_ for italics and *astrixes* for boldface.
  7. At this point you story has basically been posted. For formatting tweaks, see the Help:Templates and Help:Editing pages for more detail.

Other Advice:

Page titles can include spaces. Generally speaking, it is easiest when the page title for a story is the same as the title of the story itself. This is not strictly required, however. If your story is set in a shared story universe, for example, you may wish to put the name of the story universe at the beginning.

There are just a few significant restrictions on page titles:

  • Page titles are case sensitive, except for the first letter which is always capitalized. This means that links to "Magic cheese" and "magic cheese" will both lead to the same page, but that a link to "Magic Cheese" would not.
  • Certain special characters such as # and | are not permitted.
  • Certain prefixes such as "Talk:" and "Shifti:" are used to designate namespaces within Shifti and the pages they lead to will have special properties that make them unsuitable for posting stories to.
  • If you are used to using 'curly quotes' remember to not use them in page titles. They make it difficult to link to the page and may cause problems with older browsers. In fact, it'd be best to not use them anywhere, as they can cause problems for those same browsers. If you are copying the text out of an MS Word, OpenOffice or other fancy word processor it might be best for you to first paste it into a plain-text editor (like Windows Notepad) and manually replace the characters.

If someone else has already used the same title that you would like to use, a common means of distinguishing is to add "disambiguation" text to the end of the title in a set of parenthesis. The term "disambiguation" refers to a page that clarifies two pages with the same name. See Xanadu for an example.

Another example, if you wanted to post a story titled "Be Careful What You Wish For" but someone else has already posted one with this name, you could instead use the page title "Be Careful What You Wish For (Joe Author)". You may also want to contact the author of the existing story and request that he move his story to another page name, leaving the original page as a disambiguation page containing links to both stories. If you're posting your stories as subpages of your user page this won't be necessary as disambiguation is built into the page title already.

User subpages

Instead of posting one's story on a generic page, one may wish to instead post it on a "subpage" of one's own user page. For example, User:Joe Bloggs would post the story at User:Joe Bloggs/Magic Cheese.

This has a number of benefits:

  • There will never be a need to disambiguate if someone else uses the same title for their story
  • Only you will be able to edit the story. Other editors will be prevented from editing it.

The latter benefit could be a mixed blessing if one wants to allow other users to help with proofreading or if one's writing a collaborative story with someone else.

For more information on how to protect one's story against unwanted editing, see Help:Page protection.

Format your story

The basic formatting of text on Shifti is very simple. Paragraphs are separated by a blank line, the beginning and end of italics are marked with two single quote marks (''), bold text us marked with three single quote marks ('''), and links to other pages within Shifti are enclosed in double square brackets (like this: [[page name]]). Preformatted text is marked with a space at the beginning of the line; if you post your story and find that certain lines don't automatically word-wrap and are in a monospaced font it's likely that you've accidentally left a space at the beginning of that line.

More advanced formatting is possible. Shifti is a MediaWiki wiki and uses the default wikitext formatting; see Help:Editing for more details.

You may also wish to categorize your story by adding "[[Category:Story]]" at the end. This puts your story's page into the list of all stories on the wiki (see Category:Story), making it easier to discover by other readers and editors. For more detail on how categorization works, including how to change the way pages are sorted within the category list, see Help:Categorization. If you plan on adding more than one story you might also want to add [[Category:Your Name of Choice]] (eg: [[Category:ShadowWolf]]) to the page. This will create a new category to hold all your work.

If you want other editors to help you with your story's formatting, or with any other issues, list it at the editor's corner.

Helpful Software

If you are looking to convert a story that is already formatted as standard document format (like .doc, .rtf, .xdoc, etc) into Wiki formatted text first save to HTML and then employ this HTML to Wiki Text converter. Microsoft Word uses an HTML style that is not conversion friendly so in that case this Doc to HTML converter can be used to create simple HTML that can then be fed into the Wiki text converter.

TEA is a text editor works in linux and windows with a built-in Wiki editing capabilities built in.

This allows you to format a text file, with the correct Wiki markup code, then you can copy/paste the completed document right into Shifti


Categories are not that difficult to work with and proper use will keep Shifti easy to use. For a general overview of how categories work, see Help:Categorization. If you're not comfortable with categories there's no need to learn how to use them right away, they can be added later. The administrators of Shifti also do some category maintenance and may add the correct tags for you.

A category is automatically created if you use a category name that doesn't already exist inside a [[Category:]] tag. New users posting stories should tag them with [[Category:(insert author name here)]] - this will create a category based on their name. After that go to that category page (eg: Category:ShadowWolf is the the category for ShadowWolf's stories) and add the tag [[Category:Stories by author]] to it. This makes the category a member of the Stories by author category so it can be found on the Stories by author Category aggregator page. All stories should contain the [[Category:Story]] tag, unless they are in, for example, the Xandu universe or are of an adult nature. Xanadu stories should contain [[Category:Xanadu]] and adult material should contain [[Category:Adult]] as well as {{XXX}}. (One places it in the Adult Material category and the other is a template that should be at the start of the document and adds an image that provides visual notice that the content is of a mature nature).

Preview and save

To check whether your story's formatting will look correct, click the "preview" button. This will load a page that has both the text editing area and a preview of how the final page will look like. Note that your text has not been saved yet, and that if you make further changes you'll have to click "preview" again to refresh the displayed text.

Once the story appears formatted to your satisfaction, click "save". This will save the text and allow others to view it. You can always come back and edit the text again later if you discover flaws or otherwise want to make changes, so don't fret too much about this stage.