The "preferences" dialog allows you to personalize some aspects of MediaWiki. They will apply only when you are logged in.
- Your e-mail: You may optionally register your e-mail address (it will not be shown publicly on the site). This will enable you to reset your password by clicking the "Mail me a new password" box on the log in screen, if you forget it. Additionally, it will enable other registered users to send e-mail to you from the "E-mail this user" link on your user page unless you've checked the disable box (see below).
- Your nickname: You may optionally specify a nickname that is different from your username when you enter your signature with
To change your password, enter your old password, the new password, and the new password a second time. (If you're merely changing the other preferences, you do not need to enter your password.) If you'd like your password remembered across sessions, then check the "Remember across sections" box. Note that cookies must be enabled for this feature to work.
- Remember password across sessions. Enabling this feature will place a HTTP cookie in your browser's cache, which will allow MediaWiki to recognize you each time you visit the page. You will not have to log in each time you visit. (This function will be nullified when you log out.)
You may optionally choose to enter your e-mail address. If you do so, a validation e-mail will be sent to the address provided. After your e-mail address has been validated, you will see a message such as "Your e-mail address was authenticated on 19:01, June 5, 2006" at the top of the e-mail options section. Once the e-mail address has been validated, you can choose to 1. be e-mailed when pages change, 2. be e-mailed when your user talk page is modified, 3. be e-mailed when minor page changes occur as well, and 4. enable e-mail to be sent to you from other users via the "E-mail this user" link on your user page. Note that if you enable the fourth option, your e-mail address remains hidden from other user; the MediaWiki software forwards the message to your stored address.
A "skin" is a style of page display in MediaWiki. The changes are mainly cosmetic and alter only the appearance, not the functionality. However, some skins may override certain other settings in your preferences (such as the quickbar) – some users consider this a bug rather than a feature. Note that the only fully-supported skin on the Law & Order Wiki is the MonoBook (default) skin.
You can limit the size of images on image description pages in this section, as well as set the size for thumbnail images in article pages. Note that the thumbnail size you set may be overridden by image options set on the article page itself.
Date and time
You can select the format in which dates and times are displayed in this section as well as set your local time zone offset from server time. Note that server times are always specified in UTC.
- Date format:
- Offset. This is the number of hours to be added or subtracted from Coordinated Universal Time to find your time zone. This time zone is used when calculating displayed page update timestamps, and may become temporarily incorrect from time to time if you observe daylight saving time – don't forget to update it to match your local time, because MediaWiki doesn't know where you are or precisely when you celebrate DST. (Also, the server's clock may be slightly offset from reality, much as the articles may be.) A scattering of typical time diff values are below. If yours isn't listed, try this list of time zones and abbreviations or add and subtract a few hours as needed.
- -8 (DST -7) Pacific Time (North America)
- -5 (DST -4) Eastern Time (North America)
- -4 (DST -3) Atlantic Time (Canada's Martime provinces)
- 0 (DST +1) Greenwich Mean Time (Western Europe)
- +1 (DST +2) Central European Time
- +3 Eastern European Time
- +9 Japan
- +10 (DST +11) Australian Eastern Time
- +12 Pago Pago (American Samoa)
- -9 (DST -8) Alaska Time
- -10 (DST -9) Hawaii-Aleutian Time
The time is displayed in local time, according to the set preferences, in:
- Recent changes
- Related changes
- Page history, Image history
- User contributions
- New pages
- "This page was last modified" at the bottom of pages
The UTC time is applicable:
- In the signing of Talk pages
- In the Upload log
- In referring to non-localized events, including things that happen on the Law & Order Wiki.
Keep this in mind when copying an excerpt from Recent changes, a revision history listing, etc. to a talk page. Convert manually to UTC or temporarily set the preferences to a zero offset before producing the revision history etc. to be copied.
- Rows: _____ Columns: _____. Here you can set up your preferred dimensions for the textbox used for editing page text.
- Enable section editing via  links. When this setting is enabled, an "edit" link will appear to the right of each section header. This feature makes the editing of long articles easier.
- Edit box has full width. If this box is checked, the edit box (when you click "edit this page") will be the width of the browser window, minus the quickbar width.
- Show preview on first edit
- Show preview before edit box. If you select this option, the preview will be displayed above the exit box when you click the "Show preview" button while editing a page.
- Add pages I create to my watchlist: When this is checked, any pages that you create are automatically added to your watchlist.
- Add pages I edit to my watchlist: When this is checked, any pages that you edit are automatically added to your watchlist.
- Mark all edits minor by default. This option automatically selects the "This is a minor edit" checkbox when you edit pages. (Not recommended for new contributors.)
- Use external editor by default
- Use external diff by default
- Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary
- Titles in recent changes: Sets the default number of page names to be displayed when the Recent changes page is viewed.
- Hide minor edits in recent changes. Registered users may choose to mark edits as being minor (meaning fixes too trivial for trusting users to check up on). It applies to Recent changes, but not to my watchlist.
- Number of days to show in watchlist: This sets the default number of days of edits to be examined for watched changes when the my watchlist link is clicked.
- Hide my edits from the watchlist: This prevents any edits that you make from being displayed in your watchlist.
- Hide bot edits from the watchlist: This prevents any edits made by a bot from being displayed in your watchlist.
- Expand watchlist to show all applicable changes:
- Number of edits to show in expanded watchlist:
- Hits per page: You may choose the number of results returned on each page of search results.
- Lines per hit is somewhat cryptic; specifying a number n means: "do not show any context if the search term occurs beyond line n in the page"; here a paragraph, as well as the blank line between two paragraphs, each count as one "line"; line breaks in the source, even when not affecting the layout of the page (and even when not directly visible in the edit box of the article), affect the line count. Setting the parameter to 5,000 or more gives context for every occurrence.
- Context per line: the number of characters of context per occurrence; however, the context is always restricted to the "line" (see above) it occurs in. To get the whole line, enter a large number like 5,000.
- Search in these namespaces by default: This displays a list of all namespaces, allowing you to select which ones are searched by default; see also Namespaces searched.
These options cover various other settings that control how MediaWiki renders article pages and presents editing functions.
- Threshold for stub display: Links to articles with fewer characters than the amount you may specify here (e.g. 500, 1,000, etc.) will be displayed in a different color. Helpful for identifying stubs.
- Underline links: Normally, link text will be underlined. Optionally, you may request that links not be underlined, although your browser may not respect this setting. Normally links that are not underlined can still be recognized by color. However, one can then not distinguish between two consecutive words being a single link or two links, without pointing at the words with the cursor.
- Format broken links like this: This option is enabled by default. Normally, links to articles which do not yet exist (like the weather in London) will appear underlined and in red. You may optionally make these appear as a trailing question mark link (something like this?). This makes them stand out less, but it's rather confusing to some people (it may be interpreted as indicating that the information is uncertain).
- Justify paragraphs: You may choose to have paragraphs displayed with full justification. If set, article paragraphs will be formatted to avoid jagged line endings. If unset, the paragraphs will be formatted as-is.
- Auto-number headings: This adds hierarchical outline-style numbering to headers in articles.
- Show table of contents (for articles with more than 3 headings): This enables the display of the "Contents" box at the top of an article. Note that only articles with four or more headings will display the table of contents, regardless of this setting.
- Disable page caching: This turns off page caching. This is useful if you're experiencing problems of seeing outdated versions of pages, but this comes at a cost of longer loading times.
- Enable "jump-to" accessibility links: Provides or hides the two links "Jump to: navigation, search" at the top of each page, to the navigation bar and the search box.
You cannot indicate personal information (such as your real name) here, but you may do so on a page named after your username in the User: namespace. (That's available as a link on the line which says "You are logged in as user WhatsYourName" above the preferences panel. Feel free to start your own page with anything you want to say about yourself on it.)
Browsers usually also allow you to specify preferences, e.g. font size and font type. The standard skin is compatible with your browser setting of font size and font type. The Cologne Blue skin has most text in a fixed font size, ignoring your browser setting. Some browsers, e.g. Internet Explorer, allow you to specify that font size specified in the web page is ignored. In that case the font size in Cologne Blue is as specified in the browser, but with the line height not adjusted accordingly. Therefore a large font gives a messy result.
The font size in the edit box is independent of the font size of the other text, and it does not seem to be adjustable at all, except by choosing the screen resolution.
Specifying that the colors specified in the web page are ignored is not recommended, because they are useful in the diff feature.