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Manual:Short URL

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This article is about URL structure. For creating short URLs for articles, see Extension:ShortUrl . For creating a URL shortening service, see Extension:UrlShortener .

Short URLs or URL Rewrites hide php file extensions from the page address. Please take a few minutes to devise a stable URL structure for your website before getting started, to reduce problems later.



The default MediaWiki installation path looks like this:

/var/www/html/mediawiki (installed as root user)
/home/johndoe/public_html/mediawiki (installed with a shared hosting provider)

MediaWiki's default page addresses looks like these examples:

https://example.org/w/index.php/Page_title (recent versions of MediaWiki, without CGI support)
https://example.org/w/index.php?title=Page_title (recent versions of MediaWiki, with CGI support)

Using the methods outlined on this page, we can configure something like this:

https://example.org/wiki/Page_title This is the most common configuration, same as on Wikipedia, though not the default because it requires server-side modifications

Some people do not recommend the last two configurations. See Manual:Wiki in site root directory for potential problems and solutions.

Advantages & disadvantages

  • Advantage: Short URLs hide some technical details from end-users, which can be desirable for site owners. Among other things, this means they can be kept stable when the underlying software changes. (See above for the difference between MediaWiki's default URL structure with CGI enabled vs without.) They are also easier to read, remember, and manipulate for visitors. Additionally, short URLs offer an advantage over the default URLs for w:Search engine optimization, as URLs containing ? can be treated less favorably by search engines when calculating page rank.
  • Disadvantage: Requires configuration, so, depending on the hosting environment you are using, it might be difficult to recreate. However, as every widely used webserver is capable of being configured to use short URLs, most paid web hosting services should support this feature. Any host that doesn't offer you this feature is not worth your money.


Our official guides for short URL configuration for different web servers. Pick your web server's configuration from this list. If you don't know what server software you are using, then it is most likely Apache.

Other how-to mini-guides

These guides are old and are almost entirely bad advice. These will eventually be deleted one by one as our official guides above are created for different webservers.

Anyone is welcome to create a how-to solution page and list it below. Please use a sensible name for the page, one that fits in with the below names. When each unique solution has its own page, readers can skip complexity they do not want. Keep it simple, readable, short, with a separate page per separate solution.

To help others find out which Short URL methods really work, after trying each method please edit the page and increase the "worked" or "didn't_work" numbers for that guide and make a brief (or long, your choice) description on what went wrong by clicking the link on your number.

URL like - example.com/wiki/Page_title

Actions such as edit, view history, etc. will still have index.php unless $wgActionPaths are defined.

Root access

These methods require that you have access to the server configuration. If you are on a shared host, you most likely don't. In this case you will be required to use a method that requires "no root access". You can jump directly to the MediaWiki ShortURL Builder tool and follow the on-screen instructions. Select "I don't have root access" after entering your wiki's URL.

(for Apache guidance, see the link in the Guides section).

URL like - example.com/Page_title

Some people do not recommend this configuration. See Manual:Wiki in site root directory for potential problems and solutions.

How to create example.com/Page_title URLs:

URL like - wiki.example.com/Page_title

Some people do not recommend this configuration. See Manual:Wiki in site root directory for potential problems and solutions.

How to create wiki.example.com/Page_title URLs:


Ampersand (&) problem

The ampersand problem shows up when you have page titles with symbols in them (such as &, ?, #, + and /) which, despite being correctly encoded in the link, are not being passed correctly from mod_rewrite to the script. This manifests in 404 page-not-found errors, because the title gets cut off at the special character. For example, clicking on a link to "John & Maria's page" gets a 404, because MediaWiki is looking for a page named "John ".

This is because ampersands in long-form names are treated as query string separators, and would never reach the PHP runtime environment. This is caused by an old and problematic mod_rewrite bug.[1]


This issue is caused by the ?title=$1 portion of rewrite rules like /index.php?title=$1 which is completely unnecessary and harmful. MediaWiki parses paths directly from the REQUEST_URI, so rewrite everything to /index.php.

Purging cache

If you notice that your changes to $wgArticlePath in LocalSettings.php are not being reflected in mysite.com/wiki/Main_Page, it may be due to MediaWiki's caching of the links according to previous settings.

Go to mysite.com/wiki/Main_Page?action=purge to force MediaWiki to regenerate the cached links.

Also you can:

  1. execute the MySQL query "TRUNCATE objectcache;", or
  2. Ensure $wgCacheEpoch is updated (if $wgInvalidateCacheOnLocalSettingsChange is enabled, all you have to do is edit LocalSettings.php to purge it)

Redirect visitor of your domain to your wiki

Our official guides for short url configuration include recommendations on how to point the root of your site to your wiki using your short url config.

For example our Apache guide recommends using this to point your site root to your wiki:

RewriteRule ^/*$ %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}/w/index.php [L]

Note that we do not recommend doing a HTTP redirect to your wiki path or main page directly. As redirecting to the main page directly will hard-code variable parts of your wiki's page setup into your server config. And redirecting to the wiki path will result in two redirects. Simply rewrite the root path to MediaWiki and it will take care of the 301 redirect to the main page itself.

If using VirtualHosts, place the rewrite rules into the virtual host declaration!

Moving a wiki from /wiki to /w

A common beginner's mistake is to install MediaWiki itself (the source code, not the short URL) in /wiki instead of /w. Once installed they would realize the mistake when trying to configure Short URLs (which would become difficult as the virtual path then conflicts with the real path).

There is a manual for moving a wiki in general, however that is too complicated if all you need is to change the installation directory (and stay on the same server, same database and same hostname).

Here is what you have to do:

  • Backup LocalSettings.php and any other config files you may have created (such as your .htaccess).
  • Rename the installation directory of MediaWiki on your server from /wiki to /w.
  • Set $wgScriptPath in LocalSettings.php to "/w" and remove (or comment out) any definition of $wgArticlePath (this variable will be changed again when setting up Short URLs, further on)
  • At this point your wiki should be working normally at example.org/w
  • Now go through the regular guide to set up short URLs
  • Perform a few tests on your wiki to make sure nothing is broken. Edit a page, visit a few different pages, etc. If anything seems abnormal, revert the changes by restoring your backup of LocalSettings.php and other relevant files you might have changed during configuration of short URLs and rename your folder back to /wiki.

Note for shared hosting users: Many shared hosting plans offer an application manager to automatically Install, Update and Backup applications such as MediaWiki. If your plan has this and if you want to keep using these features, you should contact their tech support and let them know you just manually changed your MediaWiki installation directory.


See also

External links


  1. Bugzilla mod_rewrite for ampersand bug, partially resolved for some users, but only after 13 years