There are two types of talk pages - standard talk pages are used to discuss an article, whilst user talk pages are used to communicate with other users or leave them messages. Every page has an associated talk page, except pages in the Special: namespace. If there is no discussion of a page, the link to its talk page will be red. You can still discuss the page - you will just be the first person to do so.
Accessing a talk page
To access a talk page look for a link labelled Talk, Discussion or Discuss this page. These links will be found either at the top of the page or on the left hand side (near Edit this page).
A talk page adds Talk: to the beginning of the main page's title. If the main page has a prefix then talk is added after this prefix. For example, a talk page associated with the main article namespace simply has the prefix Talk:, while a talk page associated with the user namespace has the prefix User talk:. This article is in the Help: namespace, so the talk page for this article is Help talk:Talk page. The Main Page is in the main namespace (because it has no prefix), so its talk page is simply Talk:Main Page.
After someone else edits your user talk page, the alert "You have new messages" is automatically displayed on all pages you view, until you view your user page.
Using talk pages
You should sign your contributions by typing three or four tildes (~~~ = Username)
(~~~~ = Username 19:36, 10 January 2006 (UTC)). See Help:Automatic conversion of wikitext.
On a talk page, "this page" usually refers to the main page (i.e. the page the talk page is associated with). If the talk page itself is referred to, write "this talk page".
When debating the name of the page or discussing merging it with another page, always mention the current page name. Otherwise after renaming (moving) a page, references to "this page name" become ambiguous.
This also works on other pages as well, though there is no link displayed, so you will need to use the URL, e.g. http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Meta:Sandbox&action=edit§ion=new
The practice of "spamming" - posting similar messages to more than a few users' talk pages, often for the purpose of soliciting a certain action - is discouraged.
Because the wiki software platform provides for a wide range of formatting styles, proper or at least consistent formatting is essential to maintaining readable talk pages.
The reference of a comment is determined by the number of colons (':') in front of the it. If a reply is made to a statement, one adds a colon to the number of colons used in the statement being replied to. This style of conversation is easy to read.
|note about pipe symbol used below in user page names, and how users actually sign edits (not this way, normally). Click on the down-arrow to the right to display this.|
(The pipe symbol '|' used in a page name, will cause the actual full page name to be suppressed and replaced with what is after the pipe. If there is nothing after the pipe, the pipe, when the edit is saved, will be followed with the remainder of the page name, after the wikispace part ["User:"]. In a real conversation, instead of writing the user names as page names, users would use ~~~~ which will automatically be converted when saved to the name of the logged-in user, or IP address being used, plus a timestamp. ~~~ will just be converted to the user name without timestamp, and ~~~~~ to the timestamp alone.)
How's the milk? --[[User:Bob|]]
The above will produce this:
How's the milk? --Bob