Constant Noble:Referata/FAQ

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This page uses material from the home site of the now-defunct Referata, retrieved via Google cache from April 2021, and was originally located at It is republished and retained here for historical purposes. Content below is available under CC-BY-SA 3.0. (Last updated on October 29, 2019 [11:29 UTC]; slightly copyedited with archiver's commentary.)

These are some of the frequently-asked questions for the wiki hosting site Referata.

What is Referata?

Referata is a wiki hosting site, also known as a wiki farm, that uses MediaWiki as its wiki engine. It specializes in Semantic MediaWiki and some of the related MediaWiki extensions.

How do I create a wiki on Referata?

It's very easy; you just have to create an account on Referata (only a username and email address are required for that), then click on "My sites" from the top of any page, and click "Create a site". Only a name for your wiki, and a corresponding subdomain of, are required. By default, every wiki is publicly readable and writeable (meaning, everyone who stumbles onto your wiki can start making edits); you can change these and other features, although some features require a paid subscription.

What are the different paid and free features I can have? You can see a listing of the different features here;[1] most of the features available on Referata are simply inherent to the MediaWiki software and are free to all wikis.

What is MediaWiki?

MediaWiki is the wiki engine best known for powering Wikipedia and the other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. It is an open-source, PHP-based application that has been under development since 2002. It is also the world's most popular wiki engine, being used for hundreds of thousands of wikis in many different languages. It is also the most popular application for wiki farms, including Wikia, the best-known wiki farm.

What is Semantic MediaWiki, and why would I want to use it?

Semantic MediaWiki, usually abbreviated SMW, is an extension to MediaWiki that allows you to easily store the data in a wiki so that it is queriable. Using SMW, in addition to some of its spinoff extensions, allows you to create automatic lists and tables, as well as other displays such as maps and calendars, for the information that you already have stored across your pages. In addition, you can easily define forms for adding and editing the page "infoboxes" that hold this data; in this way, the data in your wiki can gain more structure in addition to reusability. With just a little bit of setup work, SMW can turn a wiki from a collection of text pages to a true collaborative database.

It should be noted that there's at least two other wiki farms that also support Semantic MediaWiki: Wikia, and ShoutWiki. (Two other wiki farms, YourWiki and Pseudomenon, previously supported SMW, but both are now defunct.) Wikia currently adds support for SMW only on user request, and it holds only a subset of the extensions that Referata does; though we hope that their support for SMW will grow in the future. ShoutWiki put SMW and extensions only on user's request.

My wiki on Referata doesn't use Semantic MediaWiki; is that okay?

Yes. In fact, most wikis on Referata don't use the features of SMW; although we find that, among the most popular wikis on Referata, the percentage that uses SMW is much higher.

Who runs Referata?

From the time of its release in July 2008 until December 2009, Referata was run by its creator, Yaron Koren. Since December 2009, it has been run by WikiWorks, a MediaWiki consulting company that Yaron founded.

This may be rude, but how do you make money from Referata?

As noted before, we have paid service levels.[1] Also, the site is not very expensive to run - almost all of the functionality comes from publicly-available applications and extensions, whose development occurs independently of Referata.

How is "Referata" pronounced?

In English, it's "reh-fur-AH-da". In other languages, the key is the accent on the third syllable.

What does "Referata" mean?

"Referata" is a bit of fake Latin meant to suggest both "reference" and "data", as well as indicating multiple sources of information, through the Latin-style plural. By a happy accident, "referata" also means "scientific papers" or "essays" in Croatian.

How can I upgrade my Referata wiki?

Click on the "site settings" link from the top of any page, then click on the "Service level" tab, and follow the instructions to subscribe. Subscriptions are handled via PayPal.

I would like to run an "Enterprise"-level wiki but can't afford it; what do I do?

Please contact us at to discuss pricing options; especially if you are from a school or non-profit, we may be able to negotiate a lower price for you.

Can I move my wiki to a different subdomain?

Not entirely, but you can do something that has the same effect: create a "URL alias" for your wiki, which is another subdomain of, so that the wiki can be accessible at either subdomain. You can change around the URL alias for your wiki as many times as you want, although you can only use subdomains that haven't already been taken. You can set the URL alias in the main tab of the "Site settings" page.

Can I move my wiki to a different domain entirely (though still hosted by you)?

Yes; although that is a paid feature. You need to have one of the service levels "Ad-supported or "Enterprise" to allow that.

How can my wiki become a featured wiki on Referata?

Your wiki must use Semantic MediaWiki, including forms, for it to be considered as a featured site. If it does use SMW, feel free to send an email to to request featuring your wiki.

How can I delete my wiki?

You can request that your wiki be deleted by clicking on the "site settings" link at the top of any page; then clicking on the "Deletion" tab; and then clicking on the "Delete site" button. Typically, the wiki will then get deleted within a week. You can cancel your deletion request at any point within that time if you change your mind, via that same tab.

If I abandon my wiki, will it get deleted?

If your wiki stops getting edited, typically within six months to a year after the last edit to your wiki it will get marked for deletion, and you will get an email notifying you of that fact. You will then have about two weeks to un-mark it for deletion, if you want it to remain in existence. Wikis that are un-marked in this way will probably not be bothered again. Wikis that have a paid subscription level will also not be subject to deletion.

How do I ensure that my data won't get corrupted or deleted?

Our hosting provider, A2Hosting, does nightly backups of data, so your wiki should be fine even in case of a huge foul-up (or a natural disaster). Beyond that, you can use the Special:Export page on your wiki to save a local copy of the entire contents of your wiki, suitable for re-importing - either just the current version of each page, or all versions.

How can I move my wiki off of Referata?

Again, you can use the Special:Export page for this (with a corresponding usage of Special:Import elsewhere). Note that you can also use this same mechanism to move wikis onto Referata.

If I make my wiki privately-readable, how can I ensure that my data truly remains private?

Security is an ultimately unguaranteeable thing: even world-class computer systems, like those of major banks and the United States government have had their data broken into. Referata has not been audited for security. Nonetheless, the system it runs on, MediaWiki on Apache and MySQL, has been well-tested for security, and has no known vulnerabilities. If security is a major issue for you, you may be better off running MediaWiki on a server on your local network. We should note that WikiWorks can help you with such a process; you can write to us at

How can I modify my version of LocalSettings.php?

LocalSettings.php is the file that MediaWiki uses to control the settings for a particular wiki. In the case of Referata, though, every wiki uses the same copy of LocalSettings.php; but the real work of specifying the settings for a particular wiki is done through each wiki's Special:SiteSettings page. If there's something you think that page is missing, please let us know on the Requested features page.

Can you add an extension/feature that I've seen elsewhere, to my Referata wiki?

All Referata wikis use the same code base. However, it is possible to add an extension or feature to Referata as a whole; use the Requested features page to make such a request.

How do I display videos/audio/feeds/etc. on my wiki?

The way to display all of that, from YouTube videos to Twitter feeds, is through the Widgets extension[2] - it lets you easily create "widgets" to show information from any number of sources, so that a separate extension isn't needed for each.

How can I guard against spam?

Every Referata wiki uses a simple CAPTCHA for edits made by anonymous users; an anonymous user must complete a simple arithmetic problem to create each edit. In practice, this simple barrier brings spam down to nearly zero. (For wikis that allow editing only by registered users, spam is usually not a problem.)

Not all of Referata (or this documentation) has been translated into language X; can I help?

If you want to translate the wiki documentation into another language, feel free to just do so on this wiki; the page name should contain the language code, so, for instance, the translation of this page into Japanese should be called "Referata:FAQ/ja". If you do create such a page, please link to it at the bottom of this page.

If you would like to translate Referata functionality, such as the Special:SiteSettings page, into another language, please just send an email to; we would be happy to send you a list of messages that need translating. Any help you could provide would be very much appreciated.

Will you ever place ads on wikis?

We doubt it. But you can do so, if you want, by upgrading to the "Ad-supported" subscription level. Your ads will be hosted via Google Ads, and all ad revenue will go directly to you.

Can you help me run my own version of Referata?

You may wish to have your own wiki farm, either for public wikis or for internal, corporate use, modelled after Referata. The wiki-farm aspect of Referata is handled by a separate extension, "Wiki Garden", as well as some very minor patches to MediaWiki itself. Both are currently private: they may get released as open-source in the future, but there are no plans to do so at the moment. We are willing to license the software, however: please contact us at if you are interested.

I noticed vandalism on Referata. To whom can I alert this?

If you notice strangely-behaving users or spam pages (pages which's content is irrelevant for this site) you are welcome to write a report about this at an administrator's[3] talk page (see here for a list of site admins). If this is a very urgent issue (as for example a "spam-attack") you may directly contact the Referata service at Please do not use the email contact for single spam pages, they do not require an immediate deletion.

How many sites does Referata currently host?

There are currently about 750 sites hosted by Referata, becoming more every day.[4] Referata is one of the largest wiki farms with free non-advertisment service level and one of only a few which use Semantic MediaWiki extensions.

Can I host more than one site with a single account?

Yes, you can host as many sites as you want to, and that without paying anything. You only need one account to create[5] several sites which can be seen as a list on Special:UserSites.

Does Referata support secure HTTP ("HTTPS")?

Referata is not able to handle secure access to any of its sites, including itself. Secure logins with SSL using "Secure Hyper Traffic Transfer Protocols" (HTTPS) require additional settings which are not being used on Referata at the moment, maybe in the future.


  1. 1.0 1.1 This linked to "Referata:Features".
  2. On Miraheze, this was discontinued in December 2020 following a security audit.
  3. This linked to "Referata:Administrators".
  4. This figure probably dates back to the early years of the service, and might have settled at the higher four-digits by the time it went dormant.
  5. This linked to "Creating a Referata site".