Help:Wiki Conventions

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Editing ISFDB

Editing the ISFDB Wiki

If none of the pages linked here have the information you need, the best place to ask is at the Help Desk. If you don't get a response there, feel free to post on the Moderator noticeboard.

This page shares Conventions and Customs of the ISFDB Wiki. Some of these are borrowed from other wikis, particularly Wikipedia, and modified to fit our particular needs and tastes; others have just grown up here.

User page

There is a "user page" associated with each Username (or User ID). It is the page named "User:<Username>" where <Username> represents the username in question. For example, User:DESiegel60 is the user page for the username "DESiegel60".

A user page often serves to present some relatively brief information about the person whose account has that username. Some people also store to-do lists, template or editing skeletons, links to frequently visited pages, or other useful information on their user pages. Some people also make use of subpages of their user pages (pages named something like "User:Username/Somepage") as experimental pages, places for work-in-progress, or for other purposes. Such pages are often said to be "in user space" or "in User:SoAndSo's user space".

A link to a user page is often used to identify the person whose account is associated with the page. This is done both in signatures and when referring to a person in discussions. Some people never put anything on their user pages. In that case a link to the page will be displayed in red in the default (monobook) skin. Sometimes this indicates a person relatively new to the wiki, but far from always.

Users are generally free to place almost anything on a user page or user page subpage, subject to What the ISFDB Wiki is not, and the general rule that "The Wiki is a support tool for the ISFDB, and should not be used for anything that is not appropriate for that purpose."

While a user page may, indeed often will, describe a user's off site activities, including the user's professional activities, it should not be used for anything that seems like advertising. Users who are also authors of SF should probably construct a Bio: page, and follow the biography policy and guidelines on the bio page. These guidelines should also be kept in mind when describing a user's activities as an author on a user page.

Even though we speak of "his user page" or "Joe's user page", keep in mind that all Wiki pages, including user pages, are provided to serve the purposes of the ISFDB. These pages belong to the project, and not to any particular user. Except to deal with violations of those principles stated above or by request of the user, editors should be cautious about editing the user page associated with another user. Such edits are quite unusual. Any disputes about such edits can be brought before the community in a public forum, such as the Community Portal.

User talk page

The user talk page (often labeled "discussion") is used to communicate with the user who logs in under a particular Username. It is the page named "User talk:<Username>" where <Username> represents the Username in question. For example, User talk:DESiegel60 is the user talk page for the Username "DESiegel60".

You can leave a new message for a user by creating a new section at the end of his or her user talk page and entering the message there. This can be done by clicking the "+" tab at the top of a user talk/discussion page (If using the default monobook skin.)

Many users have particular instructions or requests for messages on their talk pages at the top of such pages. Please read and follow such requests.

When you have read a message on your user talk page, you should usually respond to it in order to let others know that you have read it. Your response will usually indicate what action, if any, you have taken or intend to take on the subject.

On the ISFDB wiki, a major purpose of the user talk page is to leave messages from moderators for editors who have submitted edits to the database. Such messages may explain problems with submissions, or ask the submitter for further information. Submissions are often placed on hold (neither accepted nor rejected) until the submitter responds to queries. Therefore it is a good idea for anyone submitting edits to check his or her talk page until all current submissions are approved.

Another significant purpose is to query editors who have made a primary verification of a publication for details about that publication. Again, watching the user talk page is a good idea.

Even though we speak of "his talk page" or "Joe's talk page", keep in mind that all Wiki pages, including all user talk pages, are provided to serve the purposes of the ISFDB. They belong to the project as opposed to any particular user and may be freely edited by all editors if there is a good reason.

General discussion conventions

These apply both on user talk pages and on general discussion pages such as the Help desk, the Community Portal, the Rules and standards discussions page, and the Moderator noticeboard.

  • The common convention on the ISFDB wiki is that discussion threads are answered where they are started, so that discussions stay together. Thus if you leave a message on a user's talk page (or on one of the public discussion pages) you should check back on that page to see any responses. This is contrary to the default practice on Wikipedia, but it works well on the ISFDB wiki. (Occasionally discussion threads are moved, see #Splitting or moving a discussion, below.)
  • The common convention on the ISFDB wiki is that in discussion threads, responses are indented using leading colons to show different levels of response. When a discussion has gotten overly indented, someone may set the indent level back to zero, and prefix that comment with "(unindent)".
  • Individual comments should be signed. This is done by putting four tildes (~~~~) at the end of the comment. (The leftmost but one of the tool buttons above an edit window will insert this.)
  • There is some attempt to keep discussions on topic, but they do wander. Sometimes an editor will split a discussion off into a new section or sub-section to try to keep the wandering from hindering discussion.
  • Discussions are generally not erased, either from user talk pages or from general discussion pages. However, they are archived. Many such pages have associated archives where older discussions can be seen. Archives should generally not be edited except to fix their format.
  • It is generally impolite to edit someone else's comments on a discussion page, except when fixing formatting (e.g. broken wiki-code), moving comments to split threads, and fixing obvious typos and spelling errors.
  • Changing one's own comments (beyond fixing typos, spelling errors, wiki code, and other formatting) should be done only within a fairly short time after they are first posted. If much time has gone by, and you have changed your mind, then strike out your previous comments, and add new ones [in brackets], or in some other way that marks them as new, and date the change. This will ensure that the context of other editors' replies is preserved.
  • It should be obvious, but: Politeness should be shown at all times in discussion on the ISFDB wiki. In particular, personal attacks on other editors are not acceptable -- see ISFDB:Policy#Blocking_Policy.
  • The sole goal of this wiki is to work on and improve the ISFDB -- anything that does not assist that goal is marginal, and anything that impedes it significantly is inappropriate.
  • Moderators, who are apt to also be the more experienced editors, are often among the more active editors on discussion pages. However, their opinions do not count any more than those of anyone else -- there are no second class editors here.
    • One exception: on some policy matters User:Alvonruff, who founded the ISFDB, wrote the initial code, and owns the ISFDB domain, acts as a benevolent dictator, and in his absence, User:Ahasuerus very occasionally acts as his deputy or viceroy. This would include policy changes that aren't technically possible to implement in software, as well as policies involving excessive legal risk.

See also Help:Talk page

Editing Help pages

In general, no one should significantly change the Help pages that describe the rules, guidelines, and common practices for making and changing entries in the ISFDB database without first discussing the change on the Rules and standards discussions page, the Community Portal, the help page's own talk page (provided that an announcement of the discussion is made on a general public forum), or another appropriate public discussion page, and getting a consensus in support of the change.

A similar restraint should often apply before changing a widely used template where that change will affect many pages. If in doubt, discuss first.

When a new help page is being created, the initial draft is often tagged with {{NotFinal}} at the top, to indicate that it is under discussion. An editor need not wait for consensus or pre-announce the creation of such a draft, but consensus (or at least an announcement followed by a lack of objection) should be obtained before removing the {{NotFinal}} tag.

If a major change to an existing help page is proposed, one possible way to proceed is to create a draft page. For example if someone wanted to drastically rewrite the (imaginary) page Help:Entering books written in Greek, the page Help:Entering books written in Greek/Proposed draft might be created. Such a draft page might be tagged with {{NotFinal}}, and the base page might have a note added pointing to the draft under discussion. If the draft obtains consensus, it could be moved or copied to the main help page. This procedure is often used on Wikipedia. It has rarely been needed at the ISFDB, but is available if needed.

Edit Summaries

Please include a short but descriptive edit summary for each wiki edit. When editing a section of a wiki page the edit summary field defaults to "/* Section Name */". You should append your edit summary to this. These summaries help identify the edit and let other users know what is going on. They are shown in the recent changes and page history displays, and in other places.

"Minor" edits

When a wiki page is being edited, there is a checkbox at the bottom of the edit for labeled "This is a minor edit". If that box is checked when the edit is saved, the edit is designated as "minor". A bold-faced m appears next to the edit summary in the recent changes and page history displays, and in other places.

The "minor" flag should be set for changes that do not affect the substance of a page, such as corrections of grammar, spelling, or typing errors, or of wiki markup or other formatting. It is also a good idea to use it with repetitive, more or less mechanical, non-controversial changes to a number of related pages, such as the addition of a category or a standard header or footer. This is because other users can opt to hide minor changes on the recent changes page, which prevents changes of greater interest from being hidden or pushed off the page by a series of housekeeping changes.

Any change which is at all likely to be controversial, or which changes the substance of a policy, help, or discussion page, or makes a significant change to any public page, should not be marked as minor. Changes to test pages, and to pages in user-space by the user whose user page they are under, may safely be marked as minor. (Note: Archiving a discussion page is not considered to change its substance, and may be marked as minor.)

See Help:Minor edit for more details.

Splitting or moving a discussion

When a discussions wanders from its original topic (as often happens) or a distinct sub-topic emerges within a broader discussion, it may be desirable to split a discussion. In such a case an editor can insert a new section or sub-section header. Whether and how to split a discussion is a judgment call.

When a discussion becomes more appropriate for a different page, it may be copied or moved. For example, suppose a discussion about the facts of a particular publication starts with a query to an editor who has verified that pub on the verifier's talk page. This may then drift into a more general discussion about what the standards for recording such a pub should be. If this goes on for a while, and particularly if it starts to approach serious consideration of policy changes, it may be a good idea to move or copy it to a public discussion forum, such as the Rules and standards discussions page.

Key points of editing behavior when splitting, copying, or moving a discussion:

  1. Splits, copies, or moves must never be done in an attempt to suppress or support a particular point of view. If in doubt then obtain consensus first regarding how the discussion should be handled.
  2. The objective should always be to improve clarity and avoid or reduce confusion.
  3. When splitting a thread, or moving only part of a thread, care should be taken not to change the context of statements, or to provide a clarifying note when some of the moved comments refer to earlier parts of the thread that are not moved.
  4. Usually a contiguous block of comments are split off, copied or moved. In the rare case that two essentially distinct threads were interwoven, it may be desirable to separate them. This is a particularly delicate case, as the chance of changing context is higher. Editors should be particularly careful, and consider consulting with others, before undertaking such a split.
  5. We generally ask or announce first before moving a discussion. Advanced notice is generally not used when splitting a discussion on the same page or copying part or all of one.
    Exception: If a discussion on a user talk page seems more appropriate for a public forum to the user whose talk page it is, s/he may move or copy the discussion, or ask another editor to do so, without obtaining further consensus.
  6. When discussions are copied or moved to another page we add a note explaining the copy or move and that includes a link to the new location. Likewise, at the new location we start with a note explaining the discussion was moved or copied from a prior page/discussion and link back to the original discussion section. Forward and reverse links are generally not used when discussions get split on the same page, but notes in both the source and destination sections are often used. If the destination section is several sections away from the source section on the page (an unusual situation), a link may be appropriate. See Help:Section#Section linking for how to construct a link to a specific section, on the same or on a different page.

See Help:Splitting or moving a wiki discussion‎ for details on this procedure.