At Prophecy, We use MediaWiki for our internal documentation. Our use has become more sophisticated over time, and we’ve recently made a small change which I hope will make the wiki even more usable in future.
Table of Contents
The default behaviour
By default, MediaWiki page titles are case-sensitive. This means that “Funky Penguin” and “funky penguin” are two unique pages. This makes sense for Wikipedia, which maintains a massive and list of page names, which need to be accessible in multiple languages.
For a small internal wiki though, it’s less than idea, because:
- Case-sensitivity makes it harder to find pages, and easier to accidentally create duplicates. You might create a page titled “Customer ABC Inc”, but a colleague would enter it as “Customer ABC inc”, and complain that the page is not found. Worse still, your colleague might re-create the page as “Customer ABC inc”, and now you have two differing pages each containing a version of your customer documentation
- Mediawiki’s default behaviour is to capitalize the first link of the page, no matter what. This can be a nuisance when recording device details on the wiki (say, ‘router1.isp.co.nz’), since the resulting page will be called ‘Router1.isp.co.nz’, and when staff copy/paste to/from the wiki, all sorts of inconsistencies will result
The new behaviour
We now treat each wiki page as case-insensitive. That means “Funky Penguin”, “funky penguin”, and “FuNKy PEnguIn” now all point to the same page.
We also treat all Semantic Mediawiki data as case-insensitive, so that a search for pages with property “customer” set to “ibm” will also match pages with property “Customer” set to “IBM”.
This page at ITW3 was the basis for the following changes.
How to make MediaWiki case-insensitive
I did the following to effect the desired behavior:
- Identify and resolve any duplicates page names which would prevent us from making the page titles case-insensitive
- Update the collation on the page_title field in the database, to a case-insensitive collation
- Prevent MediaWiki from capitalizing the first letter of the page title
- Update the SMW database tables to make searches case-insensitive
Identify duplicate pages
I wrote this script to help identify duplicate page names. Fortunately we didn’t have many (about 30 over 10 years)
In each case, I had to specify the namespace (0 is the default namespace), and then I simply clicked on the first URL returned (I knew this to be the oldest page) and deleted the page.
Once the script returns no results, it’s safe to proceed with changing the database collation
Update database collation
Bearing in mind that my database is named “wikidb”, with prefix set to “mediawiki”, I ran the following:
Provided MediaWiki is > version 1.2.4, the following will disable capitalization of the first letter of wiki page titles:
Updating the Semantic Mediawiki database tables was a bit more complicated. The following database update was necessary
After making this update, I launched a refresh of all semantic data by running
maintenance/runJobs.php from the command line.