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A namespace is a collection of pages which have content with a similar purpose, i.e. pages where the intended use is the same. Namespaces can be thought of as partitions of different types of information within the same wiki, and keep "real" content separate from user profiles, help pages, etc.

Technical overview

Pages exist within a namespace, and this can be distinguished using the namespace prefix of a page, which forms part of the title of a page, separated with a colon (:).

For example:

Title Namespace
Foo Main
Project:Foo Project
Help:Foo Help

The "main namespace" does not have a prefix. Also, pages in the main namespace cannot have names starting with any of the existing namespaces prefixes followed by a colon.

Pages can be moved between namespaces simply by changing the prefix part of their title.

Namespace prefixes can be translated, and aliases can be configured for each (see $wgNamespaceAliasesManual:$wgNamespaceAliases). All namespaces also have a "canonical" prefix, which works on all wikis regardless of configuration. Aliases and canonical names can be used in links, when performing a search, and in the page title with the help of the {{DISPLAYTITLE}} magic word.

Each namespace has a corresponding namespace index. Within the database, the title is split into namespace index and text title, and this is used for storage in the page.page_namespace and page.page_title columns, among others.

Subject and talk namespaces

See Help:Talk pages for instructions on how to use talk pages.

Most namespaces have an associated discussion namespace (or "talk" namespace). All discussion namespaces have odd-integer indices, and the discussion namespace index for a specific namespace with index n is n+1. The namespaces with even-integer indices are subject namespaces (note that this is a distinct concept from content namespaces). The subject-talk duality can be explored using the {{SUBJECTPAGENAME}} and {{TALKPAGENAME}} magic words. The <body> tag of pages in talk namespaces has the "ns-talk" CSS class, which might be useful for styling.

Built-in namespaces

MediaWiki ships with 18 built-in namespaces:

  • 16 "real" namespaces, corresponding to actual pages, numbered 0 to 15, and grouped in subject/talk pairs
  • 2 "virtual" namespaces (one for dynamically generated special pages, and one serving as an alias for direct file links), numbered -1 and -2, respectively. Since these namespaces don't correspond to pages stored in the database, one cannot create or delete pages in these namespaces, and there are no corresponding discussion namespaces.

The full list is presented in the table below.

Index Name Purpose Talk
0 (Main) "Real" content; articles.[1] Talk 1
2 User User pages.[2] User talk 3
4 Project Information about the wiki.[3] Project talk 5
6 File Media description pages File talk 7
8 MediaWiki Site interface customization[4] MediaWiki talk 9
10 Template Template pages Template talk 11
12 Help Help pages Help talk 13
14 Category Category description pages Category talk 15
-1 Special Holds special pages N/A
-2 Media Alias for direct links to media files

Each namespace also has a constant derived from its name, with all letters in uppercase, spaces replaced by underscores, and prefixed by "NS_". For example, the constant for the "User talk" namespace is NS_USER_TALK. A complete list can be found in Manual:Namespace constants.

  1. The subject namespace has no prefix.
  2. Editing a User talk page generates a notification for the user.
  3. Defined by $wgMetaNamespaceManual:$wgMetaNamespace, which unless manually set otherwise, defaults to $wgSitenameManual:$wgSitename.
  4. Only editable by users with the 'editinterface' permission.

Custom namespaces

Extensions and site administrators can define additional namespaces to group additional classes of pages together. For a thorough overview, see Using custom namespaces.


Some namespaces, like Project and Help, only exist for convenience and do not have any extra functionality compared to the Main namespace.

Template namespace pages can be transcluded without namespace prefix.

User namespace pages are associated with user accounts or IP addresses. Changes to user talk pages generate an automatic message notification.

Pages in the "MediaWiki" namespace are used to override default messages in language file and can only be edited by administrators or other users with the editinterface permission.

File and Category pages have special functionality, as described in Help:Managing filesHelp:Managing files and Help:CategoriesHelp:Categories. Category pages can be moved by users with the "move-categorypages" right. Image moving can be enabled with $wgAllowImageMovingManual:$wgAllowImageMoving in MediaWiki 1.13 and above.

All pages in discussion namespaces have a "post a comment" feature (see Help:Section#Adding a section at the end on Meta).

See also