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What are the "Talk" pages for?
Talk pages, in general, are for the discussion of, or discussion of changes to, an article.
Personal talk pages
Personal talk pages are for notifying an individual that you have information that requires their attention; changes made to that page notify the user visually while browsing a Wiki wiki, and depending on their preferences, may also notify them by email.
Logged-in contributors have a personal talk page where other users can leave messages. This is found in the same way, by clicking the "discussion" or "talk page" link at the top of a user page. If you have a new message on your talk page, you will see a bright banner across the top of all other Wiki pages you visit. Click the link in the message (or the userbar link "My talk") to go to your talk page.
There are talk pages for non-logged-in contributors too, but these may not always be useful. Because they are linked to IPs, and IPs can change between visits, the messages may not get to the right person. They are used to explain blocks of IPs and may identify where a user is, but may not be very useful for real communication. This is another good reason to create an account.
Using talk pages
Comments on talk pages can be picked up by Google and other search engines, and the text contributions are available under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 License, so keep that in mind when you write.
It's possible to add a new section to a talk page without opening the whole edit page. Just click the "Leave message" or "+" link at the top of the article. You will be given spaces to enter a title for your new section, and to enter your comment. You can then save, and the comment will be added as a new section at the bottom of the page.
If any talk page gets too long, you can create an archive by typing [[/Archive]] (or any other name you like to use) onto the talk page. You can click the new link (preferably in a new window), and copy over the older comments then delete them from the current page when they are saved.
Some other hints for talk pages:
- Sign your comments by typing "~~~~" (four tildes). This will add your name and the date.
- Add comments to the end of the page.
- Keep your comments polite and friendly. It's always best to be civil, even if things get heated.