Manual:Pywikibot/Use on third-party wikis

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Other languages: English  • español

The pywikibot may be used to do all kind of things that are important for the maintenance of a MediaWiki project. When this software is to be used outside of the Wikimedia projects, some configuration needs to be done.

Some non-Wikimedia projects, or families, are already supported. These can be found in the pywikibot/families folder.

Using the existing files as examples, it should be easy to adapt the bot to your own project. For a shorter set of instructions, see the Quick Start Guide which might have your bot up and running quickly. If you have any problems, you can come back on this page. file[edit]

The must have a username defined for a wiki, especially if the bot does edit actions on it. The following three lines must be added to the

Code Explanation
mylang = 'xx'

xx is the code for the language code you are working on, "en" is English. If you want to work with more than one language, choose the most common one, as you can override configured value in command line by -lang: parameter.

family = 'sitename'

"Sitename" is the name of the site you're working on. Like the language, this can be changed by using the -family: parameter. It is the prefix of the <sitename> file without the "".

usernames['sitename']['en'] = u'ExampleBot'

Your file needs to specify the bot's username, for a specific family and language. The sitename must be the name of a valid family and at least one username must be specified for the configured default language/sitename combination. It doesn't create an account on that page so it must be an already created one. The language (en in the example) can be replaced by * and then the username is used for that site, if no username for the specific language is used.

In this example, the user is working on English sitename, and is logging in as a bot with the username "ExampleBot".

Now save again.

Family file[edit]

If there is no family file for the wiki that you are going to use the bot on, then you need to create one. The username must be manually added after creation of a family.


It is possible to define an AutoFamily in the and this doesn't require an additional family file, but doesn't allow as much configuration freedom.

To add a family with the name 'mhwp' or 'w3c' the following lines can be added:

family_files['mhwp'] = ''
family_files['w3c'] = ''

It adds w/api.php at the end of the URL if it doesn't end with api.php. So if your wiki does something different (like the W3C example) simply use the complete URL to the api.php. The text must begin with http:// or https:// to be detected as an AutoFamily. Usernames can be defined as usual (usernames['whwp']['*'] = u'ExampleBot') but there are no such thing as languages.

Script to generate family file[edit]

The in the root directory automatically generates a family file and stores it in the family repository. Given the URL it queries the page and extracts the location of api.php from it. If it succeeds you can login to your wiki using python login (make sure you have already created the account on the wiki!). If that fails, then you will need to modify the existing files below, or create a new file, in a text editor.

Creating the family file manually[edit]

Save the file in the pywikibot/families folder, with a name such as <sitename> where <sitename> is the name of site you have chosen (for example,

The basis looks something like this:

from pywikibot import family

class Family(family.Family):
    name = 'ksp'
    langs = {
        'en': '',

If the wiki is configured like the official WMF wikis, this is the least amount of code required. Important is that the class is named Family and that the constructor (__init__ doesn't require any additional parameters (apart from self). If a wiki does support multiple languages it is possible to define them in the langs dictionary.

This assumes that the api.php is in the directory /w/ (in that example the full URL would be If this is not the case and for example the api.php is in the scriptpath(self, code) method of Family has to be overwritten. It does not return the domain and can be dependent on the language/code:

def scriptpath(self, code):
    return '/mediawiki'

To support HTTPS with a family (not AutoFamily) it is necessary to add that specifically:

def protocol(self, code):
    return 'HTTPS'

This enables for all languages/codes in that family the HTTPS protocol. It can also return 'HTTP' to not use a secure HTTP connection and add conditions to only use HTTP/HTTPS in certain cases. If the certificate is rejected, the authentication process can be ignored via:

def ignore_certificate_error(self, code):
    return True

Configuring custom families folder[edit]

If you create your own family files, you may not want to mix them with those provided by Pywikibot. You can put your custom family files into their own folder, and configure your script to look for them. To do that the easiest way is to edit the and add all directories in which the family files are via register_families_folder(directory). All families in the files ending with are available then.

Via register_family_file(family name, file name) it is also possible to just add one family file which doesn't have to follow the filename convention.

Running the Pywiki Bot[edit]

Refer to Manual:Pywikibot/Basic use on how to run the bot.


Once the family module exists for the Wikibase repository, it needs to be modified so that the Family subclass tells Pywikibot that it supports Wikibase.


Edit the family module so that the Family subclass implements method interface, similar to

Family File examples[edit]

Example: Mozilla wiki[edit]

The Mozilla Foundation's wiki,, is a very simple example because it is only available in one language.

This is the contents of families/ Hints for you to write your own family specification are underlined.

 # -*- coding: utf-8  -*-

from pywikibot import family

# The official Mozilla Wiki. #Put a short project description here.

class Family(family.Family):

    name = 'mozilla' # Set the family name; this should be the same as in the filename.
    langs = {
        'en': '', # Put the hostname here.

    def version(self, code):
        return "1.4.2"  # The MediaWiki version used. Not very important in most cases.

    def scriptpath(self, code):
        return '' # The relative path of index.php, api.php : look at your wiki address.
# This line may need to be changed to /wiki or /w,
# depending on the folder where your mediawiki program is located.
# Note: Do not _include_ index.php, etc.

Example: Starwars[edit]

This is the content of the Starwars wiki at wikia. The file is located at families/

Here explains how to configure the Pywiki bot to work at this site.

from pywikibot import family

class Family(family.Family):
    name = 'starwars'

    langs = {
        'en': None,

    # A few selected big languages for things that we do not want to loop over
    # all languages. This is only needed by the module, so
    # if you carefully avoid the options, you could get away without these
    # for another wiki family.
    languages_by_size = ['en']
    def hostname(self,code):
        return ''
    def path(self, code):
        return '/index.php'
    def version(self, code):
        return "1.9" # Which version of MediaWiki is used?

Example: Memory Alpha[edit] is the "family" definition of Memory Alpha,, a Star Trek wiki. This specification is a little bit more difficult because it has several languages.

# -*- coding: utf-8  -*-
from pywikibot import family

# The Memory Alpha family, a set of StarTrek wikis.

class Family(family.Family):
    name = 'memoryalpha'

    langs = {  # All available languages are listed here.
        'de': None, # Because the hostname is the same for all languages,
        'en': None, # we don't specify it here, but below in the hostname()
        'nl': None, # function.
        'sv': None,

    # A few selected big languages for things that we do not want to loop over
    # all languages. This is only needed by the module, so
    # if you carefully avoid the options, you could get away without these
    # for another wiki family.
    biglangs = ['en', 'de'] # Not very important

    def hostname(self,code):
        return '' # The same for all languages

    def scriptpath(self, code):
        return '/%s' % code # The language code is included in the path

    def version(self, code):
        return "1.4"

Example: Uncyclopedia[edit]

The various Uncyclopedias are slightly more awkward as not all are hosted at the same domain or under the same name. Domain names and paths must be specified individually. Just over half are Wikia-hosted; exceptions include fi: hu: ja: ko: no: pt: sv: and zh-tw:. Many have their own registered domain names and many use custom namespaces.

The approaches which work for an Uncyclopædia or a Memory Alpha project typically can be adapted to other Wikia.

Note: There have been subsequent updates and changes, see wikia:uncyclopedia:es:Usuario:Chixpy/ for more current versions of the Uncyclopedia interwiki bot configuration. There are also unresolved issues in which some interwiki languages are not available from all Uncyclopedia projects or point to incorrect/inconsistent destinations; proceed with caution.

# -*- coding: utf-8  -*-
from pywikibot import family

# The Uncyclopaedia family, a satirical set of encyclopaedia wikis. (May 2006)
# Save this file to families/ in your pywikibot installation
# The pywikibot itself is available for free download from

class Family(family.Family):
    name = 'uncyclopedia'

    langs = {
        'ar': '',
        'ca': '',
        'da': '',
        'de': '',
        'el': '',
        'en': '',
        'es': '',
        'fi': '',
        'fr': '',
        'he': '',
        'hu': '',
        'it': '',
        'ja': '',
        'la': '',
        'no': '',
        'pl': '',
        'pt': '',
        'ru': '',
        'sv': '',
        'zh': '',
        'zh-tw': '',

    # A few selected big languages for things that we do not want to loop over
    # all languages. This is only needed by the module, so
    # if you carefully avoid the options, you could get away without these
    # for another wiki family.
    languages_by_size = ['en', 'pl', 'de', 'es', 'ru', 'fr']

    def hostname(self,code):
        return self.langs[code]

    def scriptpath(self, code):
        if code=='fi':
           return '/hikipedia'
        if code in ['hu', 'ja', 'pt', 'sv', 'zh-tw']:
           return '/w'
        if code=='no':
           return ''
        return '/wiki'

    def version(self, code):
        return "1.7"



For a single-language site, the language specified does not matter as long as it is consistent between the and families/

Login failed. Wrong password?[edit]

Pywikibot does not report anything more useful than success, failure, or host connection failure. If possible, try accessing the web server logs (Apache uses access_log by default) and take a look at the URL strings.

You could also try running in 'very verbose' mode, i.e.: python -v -v . This will dump a lot of information, including possibly the html code from the server, so you can see exactly what is going on. (however this option does run the risk of possibly revealing some security sensitive info so be careful...)

Make sure your scriptpath, the relative path to your api.php and index.php files, is defined appropriately for your wiki in your families file:

def scriptpath(self, code):
    return '/wiki'

If this does not help, add a line like

authenticate[''] = ('botName','botPassword')

to your file.

See the mozilla configuration for clues.

Bot doesn't want to stay logged in[edit]

If you are able to log in with, but the bot doesn't seem to want to remember your credentials no matter what you should consider using a password file.

Add the line

password_file = "secretsfile"

to your The secretsfile should be made only readable by the user who executes the bot (for Unix it's usually the the mode 600), that file has to be UTF8 encoded (or ASCII if it only consists of ASCII characters). Each line contains a tuple with 2 to 4 values:

("username", "password")
("family", "username", "password")
("language", "family", "username", "password")

It'll select the last applicable entry, so the values should be ordered from most generic to least generic. If no language is given it'll use that password on all languages of that family and if family is also not given it'll choose that password if the username is matching.

This is not the same as the tip above, which is for HTTP AUTH BASIC-protected wikis.

Possible issue with SVN pywikipedia, custom URL schemes, and/or MediaWiki in XAMPP[edit]

My particular difficulty with (from SVN rev 9509, with Python 2.6.something and MW 1.17) is that it initially logs in just fine, but -test immediately after says:

You are not logged in on <wiki>:<lang>.

when clearly I just did. There is nothing unusual in the output of python -v -v. Yet none of the other bot scripts are able to use the credentials which should have been cached by Since I'm using it with non-Wikimedia wiki, using a custom (short) URL scheme, with the wiki running on Windows (XAMPP), and with all those strikes against it, I'm not about to call this a bug. But certainly isn't remembering the login cookie as advertised. Annoying, because I was trying to loop through a thousand plus images with and being asked a password for each one. The workaround above works.

Mismatched interwiki configuration[edit]

In some projects (such as Uncyclopedia), each language operates as an independent wiki. This may mean that interwiki tables differ from one individual wiki to another within the same project. is built on the assumption that, if outbound interlanguage links are available at all from a language, the list of available link-destination languages and the destination URL for each will match perfectly across all wikis in the project.

This leads to some potential pitfalls:

  • If one language is missing outbound language interwiki support entirely, one must avoid giving pywikibot an account on that wiki (in in order to ensure that leaves that one language wiki untouched.
  • If one language is using a valid but incomplete interwiki table, running on that language wiki will create broken links. Unlike the case where one language is missing project-wide, there is no clean and easy workaround.
  • If a language in a project has been forked (not just mirrored), the interwiki for each individual language pair will point to only one of the multiple forks. Verify the wiki your bot is looking at is the same one that is being linked from the wiki you're editing - otherwise the bot will delete some valid links as "page does not exist".

Customisation of namespaces[edit]

Some projects use non-standard extensions to provide Special:Interwiki and Special:Namespaces lists; where available, these lists should be checked against the configuration files to detect any additional namespace customisations.

Short URL rewrites[edit]

If your site uses short URL rewrites, you may have to add "/api.php" to the blacklists, Otherwise, your bot scripts will not be able to access api.php.

Check your rewrite conditions in your Apache conf file, and make an appropriate addition.

Bot & private wikis[edit]

Some wikis require logging in into mediawiki before being able to view any wikipage. If you have any such site, add to your custom family file :

def isPublic(self):
    return False

Fixing Permission Denied problems

Creating page [[Category:Help]] via API
Unknown Error. API Error code:permissiondenied
Information:Permission denied

Your wiki may require users to be part of a particular group in order to edit pages. If so, login to your wiki as an administrator and use Special:UserRights to put your bot into the proper group(s) to avoid API permission problems.

Bot & HTTP auth[edit]

Some sites will require password identication to access the HTML pages at the site. If you have any such site, add lines to your of the following form:

authenticate[''] = ('John','XXXXX') # where John is your login name, and XXXXX your password.

Colons in Article Titles Within Custom Namespaces[edit]

I had a problem with a colon in an article title; specifically, for the title The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century in the namespace that I created called WikipediaExtracts. The script failed on that one on account of the colon in the article title.

When I looked at (line 171) I saw that one can pass the namespace number into the function.

So when I changed it from:

page = pywikibot.Page(site, "WikipediaExtracts:The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century")


page = pywikibot.Page(site,"The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century", 3000)

that worked -- where 3000 is the number I had picked for the custom namespace following the example at Manual:Using_custom_namespaces#Creating_a_custom_namespace.

See also[edit]

Other languages: English  • español


  1. The 'u' in front of the username stands for Unicode. The 'u' is important if your username contains non-ASCII characters. If you are using ASCII characters only or Python 3, you can remove the 'u' (if you have troubles logging in with your bot, otherwise you can leave the 'u' as is).

If you need more help on setting up your Pywikibot visit the IRC channel #pywikibotconnect @ freenode server or Pywikibot mailing list.