Wiki practice

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To create a useful wiki pages requires some understanding of wiki-markup codes and the conventions used in this wiki. More extensive information can be found on the MediaWiki help pages.

Editing an existing page

  • Understand the Social Contract - Please read and understand our social contract which describes both the intent and behaviors required for continued participation.
  • Communicate - If your edits are substantive, justify your edits in the talk page. You can also leave invisible narrative in the wiki text by writing it like this: <!--this is hidden text-->
  • Add Links and Categories - If you notice that a page should reference another page within the wiki, or should be assigned a category, then please make that revision, and learn more about categorizing and linking strategies that will keep this wiki healthy.
  • Identify Yourself in Critique - Every page has a discussion page accessed through a tab at the top of the page. This is where we make editorial comments intended to identify strengths or weaknesses. Sign comments with ~~~~ which will be replaced by your username and a time stamp upon saving the page.
  • Keep it Brief - Please use the minimum of text necessary to transfer information and point to resources. Please feel free to edit the work of others for brevity.
  • Stay on One Topic - Please be judicious in page content so that individual pages are brief, complete, and cohesive. Avoid mixing several topics on a single page. You may meander at your own risk on your effort pages or where you present some personal synthesis as a document.
  • Help us Improve - If you think of a way to improve wiki infrastructure, please feel free bring it up at the talk:introduction page.

Creating a new page

  • Search the wiki and see how your topic is already being treated and build on that structure.
  • Pick a Page Type - Each page describes one of six parts of human systems or seven parts of our ecosystem. Please pick the page type that applies to your content, and include the template code as the first text in the edit window (for example "{{topic}}" for a topic page). A list of page types can be found in the grey box on the top left of the edit window.
  • Create from a Link - Start the creation of a new page by putting a link to the new page from an appropriate location. You create a new page link by inserting your page name with double brackets around the new page title (for example [[new page]] would create a link to a page titled 'new page'). After your save the edit, your new link appears in red indicating that the page does not yet exist. Follow the link, and select the 'create this page' option.
  • Use categories - If well categorized your page it is more likely to be found by a browsing user. Particularly consider the relationship of your page, to ecosystems and topics
  • Identify your Workgroup - Create a workgroup page to describe your team and link to any efforts, sites, documents, or topics that you are working on. You might learn how to use multiple columns and invoking lists of pages or The Credit Box to develop a workgroup presence.

Wiki writing practices

The purpose of writing text into a shared wiki is different than writing for personal expression. The following guidelines may help your ideas survive editing, and give future editors good material to work with. In general wiki writing works best if you use the journalistic practice of writing short paragraphs with complete ideas that are heavy with citations and links. If you write a whole paragraph without a citation, perhaps you need to publish some of your own materials.

  • Make each modular thought complete and simple--you are creating packets of information. Avoid mixing reports of evidence with speculation, or jumping between multiple topics in the same sentence, unless necessary to convey your idea. A majority of information packets should include a link, either to within the wiki, or to a document.
  • Use section headings to organize ideas, separating distinct topics into sections using "=" signs.
  • Consider starting an article with a strong clear statement in bold and a 'notes' section, and use bullet statements as the starting point for a future article. Bullets force the kind of compartmentalization that makes good wiki writing.
  • Focus on assembling and interpreting sources of evidence--the primary purpose of the wiki is to share sources of evidence, per our social contract. If you have a complex and evolved idea, write a paper and post it. Cross-cutting speculation has value, but fits well in a notes section at the end of an article.
  • Make a note on the discussion page about what you saw, and why you did what you did, particularly when making strong edits to previous work.