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I am an admin on a MediaWiki instance where I can't edit the code, only act through the MediaWiki system itself.

Can I setup a notification for every new user? The notification should be seen until discarded by the user, never to appear again.

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Check to see whether your MediaWiki installation has the extension DismissableSiteNotice installed. You can check this by navigating to Special:Version of your wiki.

(If not installed, the notice would stay there without the ability to be discarded, so would not work for you -- you'd want to speak to the person who has access to the installation files.)

If you do have it, you can use a combination of MediaWiki:Sitenotice and MediaWiki:Anonnotice. (These are the things Wikipedia etc. use to display stuff like fundraisers on their pages.)

The two messages work in the following manner:

  1. If the user is anonymous, MediaWiki:Anonnotice is displayed (if defined).
  2. Otherwise, MediaWiki:Sitenotice is displayed (if defined).
  3. Otherwise, the global notice in $wgSiteNotice is displayed (if defined).
  4. Otherwise, no notice is displayed.

Therefore, you would want to set MediaWiki:Sitenotice to whatever message you want to show to the logged-in users; and set MediaWiki:Anonnotice to <p></p>. (The Anonnotice is necessary because if it's totally blank, it wouldn't be "defined" and thus the Sitenotice would be shown for anonymous users too.)

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