System messages, also called MediaWiki messages, provide a means for customizing the interface of a wiki.
Please keep in mind that it is not always wise to tweak these messages. The default value is there because it is considered the most universally understandable terminology.
So, for example, while you might want to make the Chat welcome message unique for your community, please try and make sure that new members of your community will still understand the meaning behind it.
Step by step
As the messages are stored in the MediaWiki namespace, only admins of a community have the necessary permissions to be able to make changes to the system messages.
Note: for security reasons, not all MediaWiki messages are freely editable. You can see the editable list here: Help:System messages/whitelist. If you want to edit a message not listed there, you must contact Fandom Staff.
- Go to Special:AllMessages and select the "all" radio button. Search for the text that you want to replace and click the message that uses it.
- If the message has never been edited before, you will see the default message value in the editor. This will help confirm that you are editing the correct message.
- Edit the page just like a normal page, putting in the message text.
Pay careful attention to anything with a "$" in the message. This is a 'variable' that will be replaced when the message is actually being used. You may want to ask for help on the Community Central Forums if you don't know what these variables represent.
- Save the message and verify that the message has changed.
Clear your browser cache (Ctrl + F5) if you do not immediately see the change.
Using the special language code trick
In many cases you can use a special 'language' code to find out a message name more quickly. This can be done by appending
?uselang=qqx to the URL (see this page as an example). All the messages on that page will then be replaced by the names of the pages in the MediaWiki namespace.
Notable system messages
- MediaWiki:Common.css - controls custom community CSS
- MediaWiki:Mainpage - controls the landing page when a visitor goes directly to the community's main URL in their address bar (such as 'community.fandom.com')
- MediaWiki:Licenses - defines the options users see for image copyright status when uploading an image
- MediaWiki:Newarticletext - this is the message that you get when you follow a link to a page that doesn't exist yet
- Help:System messages/whitelist - the list of pages in the MediaWiki namespace that administrators can edit. All others require a request to Fandom Staff
- System messages help on Mediawiki.org
- Customization policy - details about when it is and is not appropriate to customize certain parts of the site interface
- Description - in-depth information about customizing system messages to help search engines understand your content
- Theme designer - how best to change the background and wordmark of your wiki