Wikidot Explained

This page explaines how a Wikidot wiki works.

1) What is a Wiki on Wikidot?

A wiki on Wikidot is a collection of pages under a sitename. When you create a site you choose the name you want to use, for example xyz, and Wikidot creates the site with a sitename in the format For example the sitename of this site is This is the url you see in your browser's address bar.

You can choose any site name you like providing it hasn't been used already, isn't obscene or breaches the terms of service.

This sitename is what is found by search engines like Google and Bing although individual pages are often indexed by the search engines as well.

For more information about your generated new site see also Howto: Site start
and Howto: Site check list from our" Emergency Help" page: (My wiki is created - what's now?)!

2) The structure of a Wikidot page

When wikidot has found the site you want it will display it to you in the way as any other website. What you get is as follows:

  • by default the homepage of a wikidot site is named start. If you need to you can change this later to home or another name. The name of a page can be a maximum of 60 characters.
  • a theme. Wikidot has several default themes and variants for a side bar or no side bar. See section 4) below for more information about this.
  • However you can use other themes from or create your own custom theme using CSS (cascading style sheets) which changes the default CSS provided by Wikdiot.
  • the name of the site. This appears in the header area at the top of every page and is clickable to the start page of the site. This is defined in the general settings in the admin:manage page.
  • the tagline of the site. This is displayed under the title the header area at the top. This is also defined in the general settings in the admin:manage page.
  • a top menu bar. This is the horizontal navigation menu that is under the title and tagline. The menu items are held on a page called nav:top.
  • a side menu. This is the vertical navigation menu down the side of the page. The menu items are held on a page called nav:side.
  • You then have the page title. You can change this to anything you like but do note that it doesn't change the page name (the url of the page as shown in the address bar).
  • Under that is the content of the page. This content is what you enter into the page editor using Wikidot wiki syntax and plain text. It is read, or "parsed" by the Wikidot engine and rendered on the page in browser-readable format. A the time of writing this it is not possible just to import wiki syntax from another wiki without changing it to Wikidot wiki syntax. This means that a wikimedia source code cannot be rendered and is left as it is.
  • Under the content area are the options buttons. These enable you to rename a page, delete a page, add meta data for your site and many other functions.
  • A the bottom of the page is the footer which contains licence and copyright information and more links.

3) Categories of Pages

If you look at your browser address bar you will see that this page is called wiki-explained. There is no : colon in the pagename which means that the page is in the default category.

But it is possible for you to divide your pages into logical categories. For example if you have a site about cars you might have a category called Audi and within that pages for the different models called A4, A6, Q7. You might then have another category called Seat with pages Alhambra, Leon etc.

To create a new category and a new page you would either use the newpage module in the side bar of one of the default WIkidot themes, or you could enter it into the address bar of your browser, for example The first part of the pagename before the : colon is the category, the part after the : colon is the page.

As you become more familiar with Wikidot you will see that using categories when combined with a module called the ListPages module is very powerful as it allows you to list pages and do other functions for pages within a specific category. For example you might have a table just of your Audi cars anc clicking on each one in the list will take you to that page:


4) What are "Themes"?

Every site has a layout which formats your content on your screen in a way that is set up by Wikidot or by you.

There are different layouts used on the wikis:

No side bar:
Top Bar

Main content (page)

Side-bar on the left:
Top Bar

Side -


Main content (page)

Side-bar on the right:
Top Bar

Main content (page)

Side -


Some people prefer not to change the theme and stay with the default Wikidot themes. This is fine but if you want to be a bit more unique you can also use different fonts, different colors, different sizes, custom background images etc. You are not restricted to using the theme that Wikidot gives you by default. By using CSS (custom style sheets) you can design your site in exactly the way you want, building up from the default Wikidot CSS. Many sites built on Wikidot don't look anything like the default themes! More information is available at and - the best guide I ever found (thanks Phil)!

5) Access Policy

Every Wikidot site has an access policy which is either Open, Closed or Private. It is really a definition of whether a user needs to join the site to view the content, to edit the content and is based on who who decides if you can get membership of the site.

5a) Open

An Open site means that there are no special restrictions set up and all visitors can read every page unless specific pages or categories of pages have been made private, admin pages for example.

There will usually be a "join" button on a open site and pressing the "join this site" button is enough to get a visitor membership of the site.

However, just by joining a site it does not mean that member is able to create and edit content. This is set separately by the administrator of the site.

5b) Private

A private site is only readable by the site members and nobody else. Even Google, Bing and internet spider engines cannot reach this wiki. But this needs some definitions where the admins can explain to "unexpected" visitors that this site is private and therefore they are not allowed to read any further. This is normally written on a page named "system:join" ( by default). On this page the admins can :

  • offer (if they wish to) the possibility to reach the site admins by email or private message, or
  • offer (if they wish to) an application button to join the site - by password or by text application.

As an example the "community" admins here at Wikidot have a parallel forum on a "private" site where they can discuss anything.

5c) Closed

This is not a mix between open & private; a closed site is a normal "open" site but where in general a distinction is made in the permissions between "anonymous" or "Wikidot-registered" visitors and "site members". A simple example might be that site members are allowed to write a new article but anonymous or registered users can only post messages in the forum.

The system:join page would show whether a visitor can join the site and how they can do that (application by password or in writing).

6) Live Templates

You can set up your site and administer it without ever using live templates - but the more categories you use, and the bigger your site gets, the more you will like it!

Every time a page is called Wikidot tries to find an existing live template for the category the page is in. This is always a page called "_template".

What live templates do is to allow you to define content that will appear on every page in a category. Using the example of Audi cars earlier, you might have a link to Audi's website or some standard information about Audis which needs to appear on every Audi page. You do not want to be typing this into every page or copying and pasting it each time as this is a very time-consuming process and would need to be changed on every page if the text, link or other standard content changed. If you put it into the live template page, in this example it would be called audi:_template, then you only need to changte the content on that live template page and every other page in the audi category will reflect the change instantly.

Even the default category can have a _template page which will affect all pages not in another category. This default category live template page would just have the name _template.

Live template pages can get quite complex with place holders used where the content is mixed up with the live template source: the page content is inserted at given place holders like %%content%% ( which is a "variable" ) or - if different content-blocks are used - in "%%content{1}%%", %%content{2}%%" etc.

Important: if you omit the placeholder variable, for example %%content%%, on the live template then the content of the page is not inserted* and therefore not shown! This has frequently been the subject of questions on the forum (why can't I see my content…?).

For more information see also Apply your first live _template to your pages

Notice - the "live template" is a "hidden page" ( with the starting underscore in it's name) and therefor only possible to create by keying in the name at the adress bar ( URL) - not in the newpage button field witch is often inserted in the side menu!

7) Private Categories

Every admin can define in the "Site Manager" (the page named admin:manage) for selected categories a special "view" permission for a level of users where the complete category is "readable" only for:

  • anonymous (all visitors) (this is the default if no extra permission is given)
  • registered wikidot accounts,
  • site members or
  • site admins,

If you use private categories you can create a special page named "category-xyz:_public" which displays a message or special content to visitors who don't have permission to view pages in that category. For example you can put a polite message on that page like "Sorry but this area of the site is private. If you think you need access to this page please contact one of the administrators".

This means that if you want to have an area of your site for members only, like a "no-comment" forum (threads and postings only done with standard pages without any "per page discussions allowed), then this is a good way to do it. But be aware that some wikidot gurus can find a tricky way to read the source code anyway.

If you really want to "hide" a forum or all other pages only for a special group of members than you should make the site "private".

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