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A place to put etiquette suggestions...

Don't be a pillock

That's  basically it.  Rule zero.  Play nice.

Pretty much everything else below is observed convention and probably out of date.

New pages

Before creating a new page, it's a good idea to look around and see if someone's already written a page on which what you are intending to write could usefully fit. You don't have to go out of your way to make it fit - if it doesn't, go ahead and make a new page; but if information and discussion on a subject is spread amongst dozens of nearly identically named pages, it makes information hard to find and discussion hard to follow, whereas if it's gathered together on one page we can hopefully eliminate duplication and get a better overview of the subject.

Good reasons for new pages:

Pages can get tagged with MaintainMe/Delete. This isn't a personal attack, or an attack at all. It just means people think the page or its content has outlived its usefulness; or maybe that the content fits better on a different page. It's not an absolute order - it's a call for discussion; if you disagree with it, please say so. If they don't get the joke, explain it :) in general, please be as patient with such people as you'd like them to be with you!

What's wrong with creating pages with nothing much on them?  Isn't it just harmless?
There are two reasons not to do this.  First, the more pages there are, the slower the wiki runs, especially when searching.  Secondly, and more importantly, we want visitors to enjoy the ToothyWiki and become ToothyWikizens themselves.  People tend to navigate the wiki by clicking on links, rather then using the "Back" button much.  If they quickly reach a "dead end" page (AKA LeafPage), chances are that they'll wander off and never be seen again.  A thriving wiki should have lots of links within each page, to keep people moving forwards all the time.  For a longer discussion, see LeafPage. --M-A

Counterpoint - if pages with nothing much on them don't get created, they can't grow. Suggested response: skip the "page with nothing much on it" stage - just make a link if you want other people to write stuff on a subject, or if you have something to say or ask then reify the page, but don't just make a content-free page in the hope someone will think of content to add later - the unreified link is enough (and, in fact, better since it'll get listed in UnreifiedLinks for people looking for something to do). Thoughts? - MoonShadow
mmmhh.. Just been reading what MeatBall? has to say on the subject.  I'd say that the LeafPage should be created at least when you think the term is ambiguous and you wish to clarify what you meant by it, or when you want to really prompt discussion - though such a leaf will usually end up with a lot of unreified outgoings.  Plus I don't think anyone wants to do away withe the CategoryNotWhatItWasSupposedToBeAbout joke leaves. --Vitenka
Yah, but those are OK - the one has useful content (your definition) and will probably get categorised, the other has outgoing links and context (CategoryNotWhatItWasSupposedToBeAbout). It's the one-off sort that just say something like "Flibble" and nothing else at all that you come across a week later and think "WTF?" that I want people to think about not creating - and I'm not sure how to define what I mean precisely here, which is part of the problem.. - MoonShadow

I'd add that encountering a pointless page of links with no content also quickly drives people off.  The CategoryCategory pages are a good example of those - though they're probably ok since it's obvious from the name the kind of page you are going to end up as.  Real pages that are like that are probably a bad thing.  --Vitenka (Though most of the 'category' pages here end up being silly and fun)
On a related note, AlexChurchill has wondered about adding text along the lines of "Click the title to get a list of all the pages in this category" to every single page in CategoryCategory, since newcomers might not understand how to find new ones immediately.
I suspect that's a jolly good idea. On a similar note, I'm gonna tweak CategoryHomepage to reflect usage patterns observed in the logs.. - MoonShadow
Can you clarify that?  I know a lot of other wiki software automates CategoryHomepage.  --Vitenka (I keep capitalising that p!)
People come from Google, edit a page, make a page for themselves then visit CategoryHomepage when their page gets categorised; it makes sense to link newbie pages from there so they can find them. I don't think the person who's posted on Katakana recently has visited RecentChanges yet. - MoonShadow
I got it by seeing what you wrote.  Nice.  Whereas CorkScrew found RecentChanges all by himself, no harm in giving the nudge.  I'd be suggesting other pages to visit, but our TourBus? is woefully out of date.  RecentChanges really does seem to be the dynamo.  Any other things that might get linked (such as the recent surge in CategoryFiction) seem to be transient in their activity.  Then again, maybe getting a newbie there would restart them?  --Vitenka


Discussion hidden [here].


When posting an indented comment in the middle of stuff someone else has written, thus splitting it up, make sure both halves of the original are tagged with their name. This makes refactoring a lot quicker and easier later.

Comments and example hidden [here].

When refactoring - be careful not to remove discussion completely.  Since past revisions expire, sub-pages are reuired to preserve people's thoughts and rants.  --Vitenka (Reading old rants is fun)

Agreed, rants are good, but six-level-deep discussion is darned hard to read from cold - it'd be good to come up with a way of simplifying old discussions when archiving without losing the rants. I'll do it right after I teach these here pigs to fly.. - MoonShadow

I'd agree about making sure you don't give the impression that a particular person said something when they didn't.  But I've been reading [Ward Cunningham] on the value of DocumentMode? vs ThreadMode? wiki pages, and it made me reconsider whether always putting an attribution on a comment is a good thing.  Maybe leaving an attribution off should instead be taken as an invitation to directly meddle with the words? --DR
The main problem as I see it is if someone says something and signs, and someone else comes along later and says something and doesn't sign, it can look like the first person said both things. In certain cases, this can be very irritating - putting words in someone else's mouth is not something I approve of. In principle, I don't mind you changing stuff I wrote so long as you take my name off it! - as I believe I have said elsewhere before now. I am very much in favour of refactoring to DocumentMode?, but I am very much against ThreadMode? where only some people sign, especially if no other effort is made to distinguish between speakers either - it makes it very hard to follow debates. I am also in favour of interleaved thread mode over append thread mode - again, the latter is hard to follow, leads to repetition since replies are far from their context, and is harder IMO to refactor to DocumentMode?. You don't have to use your name or even your wikiname or hostname to sign, any identifier unique to that chunk of debate will do. - MoonShadow
I much prefer ThreadMode?.  I think it depends what a wiki is primarily intended for.  If it is to be more encyclopaedic then DocumentMode? is most appropriate.  If it is to be a forum for debate and for a certain form of social life, then I really thing ThreadMode? is preferable.  I'll always sign what I write (as I'm used to Usenet, and find it hard enough to conduct threaded discussions on the Wiki as it is), but if our debates were to become nameless information gathering alterable encyclopedic entries, I don't think I'd bother. --AR
It's intended for both. I think there is a need for discussion on pages, as well as for people to go through and write down salient points made and conclusions arrived at in neutral informative paragraphs separate from the area where discussion is happening so people can get quick updates to what's goping on. This page is a case in point: it's mainly informative, things are debated inline in ThreadMode?, the results are condensed so that future visitors can understand them quickly. -MoonShadow
I think that in removing a name and potentially calling something "neutral", an article can be removed from its context.  The subsequent article is no more neutral than the debate - it just has its identifiers removed.  Whether or not I agree with somebody often depends upon the context within which they speak as opposed to what they say outside of that context.  For example, if you were to put up a sign saying "do not trespass on this land" and I didn't know that the sign was intended for (say) non-National Trust members (and I was a National Trust member, and obeyed the sign), I'd have missed out on an opportunity to look at a piece of land.  The line that reads "let's make welcoming our high priority" is a political line (I presume from you, Moonshadow), but one that I like to keep firmly alongside your argument that the wiki is not a democracy.  I shall always argue for attribution, even for those people who summarise previous debate. --AR
Indeed, you're quite correct - rewriting something in a neutral fashion involves a lot more than just removing an attribution, and just removing an attribution can often make things worse, as I point out above; which is probably why real refactoring hardly happens on any important subject on ToothyWiki - it's too much like hard work. There's a rather good [wikipedia article] on the subject, actually. I still think it's a worth goal to strive towards. - MoonShadow
Thanks for pointing me over there.  I've not got time to read the whole thing, but my queries were somewhat answered under the heading "there's no such thing as objectivity".  I find it interesting that they have to re-define what is meant by "neutral" in order to achieve their aims. --AR
'Redefine what is meant by "neutral"?' JOOI, what do you think is meant by it, and how do their definitions contradict that for the purposes of writing informative text? - MoonShadow
This is a bit tricky.  Since I don't think there is any such thing as neutral, I'm not sure that I can say that its use is usefully meaning filled.  In a similar way, I cannot say what atheists mean by "not God".  All I can do is imagine that everything I can imagine about God, atheists don't think.  Even then, I may well be being unfair to atheists. If I were able to define "neutral", I might have demonstrated that it existed.  So I cannot define it, but I can attempt to try and say what I think others describe when they use the word.  Dictionary.com defines it (under one definition) as "Belonging to neither side in a controversy".  However, rather cleverly, the Wikipedia people don't attempt to argue that it is possible to "belong to neither side in a controversy" because they recognise that they are not attempting to "belong to neither side", but instead to "summarise fairly".  I like the self-critique displayed in the paragraph beginning... "If there's anything possibly contentious about the policy along these lines, it is the implication that it is possible to characterize disputes fairly...".  And the self-critique ought not to stop there... (Continued on Theology). --AR


A lot of ToothyWikizens make an effort to use correct Spelling, Grammar? and Punctuation? when writing. A number of StreetSweepers are prepared to tidy up after people who don't. A number of ToothyWikizens can get impatient with particularly bad examples, and might decide not to read them until they are fixed. Homepages and their subpages tend to get fixed less than the rest of the wiki. In general, don't be ashamed if someone fixes your SPAG - no-one was offended, and we all make mistakes; but do try not to make the same mistakes over and over again - everyone should be capable of learning from their mistakes.

Also, smileys and exclamation marks - one per ThreadMode? sentence is plenty enough.

Minor edits

The "this change is a minor edit" tick box at the bottom of the edit screen causes your edit to be hidden from most people's RecentChanges page. The intention is that you tick it if and only if you're just fixing spelling/grammar or formatting, without adding/removing anything to or from the page or changing the sense of what it says.


ToothyWiki is the environment of an on-line community. Within that environment people state information, have discussions and have fun. All these aspects are reflected: the encyclopaedia, the discussion forum and the game-world.

Newbies are people who are new to the community. They may have been lurking (i.e. reading but not contributing) for a while. Then comes the brave day when they make their first post. There are two potential problems.

First, they need to be properly educated in how the wiki works. At the most basic level this is knowing how to edit a page and how to format. There are various formatting conventions, described elsewhere on this page and others linked from here. There are also other conventions, covering categorisation, homepages and maintenance. Some of these conventions may have been picked up through lurking. In general, the solution is to have this page and to keep it as complete as possible. This may well always be a work-in-progress.

The second potential problem is the response from the pre-existing community. What happens if a newbie does something out-of-step with the current conventions? Some people are highly sensitive to criticism (whether meant personally or not) - yet we want them to take part, don't we? (Of course, some/most, newbies will be thick-skinned and fully geek-savvy and will have no problem adapting to ToothyWiki.)

For example, with the best will in the world, I don't think placing MaintainMe/Delete on a newbie's first efforts will ever be tactful. It is dangerously prone to being interpreted as rejection, suggesting that the newbie has no business here. "This is a local wiki for local people -- there's nothing for you here!" (apologies to the LeagueOfGentlemen?)

In this example, I think it would be better to wait a week or so before suggesting it should be deleted. If the new page looks like a test page, one could add a comment, "Is this a test page? (Testing should really be done in the SandBox)" prior to marking it for deletion a week later. If the page looks like a LeafPage or a topic for which there is already a page, we could wait and see if it develops before stamping out the flickering flame of spontaneity in the name of tidiness.

So: ToothyWikizens, are you not excited by new people joining in the wiki? Is it not more important than page-tidiness? If so, then let's make welcoming them our higher priority!

Photos, and identifying people in the RealWorld

If you know someone's name IRL but they are posting under an alias and don't themselves say their real name, use the alias when you refer to them!

I would welcome comments on the WikiEtiquette of posting photos of ToothyWikizens, or by some other method identifying ToothyWikizens as people in the RealWorld. For example, I have a very cool photo of rather a lot of ToothyWikizens from the wedding last weekend, which I'm itching to post, but it may not be appreciated by everyone in the photo. Comments? --Admiral
In that specific incidence, everyone in the photo voluntarily put themselves there (or rather, proclaimed that they knew the meaning of the word "otaku").  You could put the photo up, but let people fill in the correspondence between position in the photo and wiki name for themselves. In general, if someone expressed a wish not to have two of their identities associated then I would not forcibly do so except under exceptional circumstances --DR
Oh, so that's who that photo was for. I couldn't work it out. I was probably right not to be in it. --CH
Rather late but - I liked the photo and was happy to see it up! -Hoshi-Chan (the one on the end)

See also:
contains, amongst other things, lists of markup features and ToothyWikiInternals/PageFormattingGuidelines, which should probably migrate here since it would be more findable.

attempts to be a quick-start introduction to Wiki, simple markup and basic etiquette, without going into gory details or discussion (pointers are given to more appropriate places for those).

creating a wiki page with little or no content or outgoing links is frowned upon by some users.  Discussion about this may be read at LeafPage and is worth taking note of.

[Walled Garden]
creating an isolated group of pages that link to each other and nowhere else is sometimes frowned upon.  Consider keeping it all on one page, at least at first; or if it's isolated because it's not of general interest, consider whether it would be better placed on some other wiki.

Related resources on other wikis:
MeatBall: ShallowPage, MeatBall: ForestFire, MeatBall: SpellingConventions

CategoryCategory, CategoryWiki NotAStickToBeatPeopleWith?...

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Last edited September 15, 2008 11:58 am (viewing revision 77, which is the newest) (diff)