From The Coppermind
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Hi. I have no idea what to write here, so I'm going to write my personal Rules for Wikiediting, because it may help someone else. Or maybe not. Anyway, I'm bored, so here we go.

My personal rules for wikiediting[edit]

  1. Use proper grammar and spelling. This is sort of obvious, I guess, but it's the most important, so it needs to be listed.
  2. Develop consistent conventions. Are you not certain whether a certain word needs to be capitalized? Are you not certain how to address a certain character? Find out if there's an existing convention. As long as it's not outright wrong, follow it. If not, develop, implement, and publicize a convention. Under no circumstances should you constantly switch back-and-forth between conventions.
  3. Use present tense. This is more a style thing, but it's actually really important. I think people tend to use past tense because that's how we tend to perceive time -- a character does something, therefore it ends up in the past. And that's fine if we're talking about real people. Real people exist, and then they don't. They do things that occupy a discrete moment in the space-time continuum. But fictional characters aren't like that. Fictional characters sort of exist in all states: people that haven't read the books, people that are in the middle of reading it, and people that have already read it. Obviously if you're editing the wiki, you've already read the book, which gives you a certain bias and why you will tend to use the past tense. But this is incorrect; it's writing in a backwards-looking fashion. When a character dies, do you switch all tenses in an article to the past tense? That's inconsistent (and sort of spoiler-ish). Moreover, Frodo Baggins is a character from Lord of the Rings, he doesn't cease to become a character; thus, one should never use past tense in articles, unless there's an actual reason, like placing things in chronological context.
  4. Synthesize, don't summarize. This is perhaps the hardest rule to follow. Summarizing is easy. You read a big block of text and make it ten percent shorter. It's easy to understand and do. But it's wrong. You can't slavishly re-write the entire book into a wiki. You have to synthesize. If character A fights an unknown, mysterious warrior, which is later revealed to be character B, don't keep on writing "mysterious warrior." Use character B's name. If a character is known by multiple names, don't string them out in three different parts of the article, revealing the names in the same order that the author revealed them. Write them all immediately in the lead, right next to each other. If you're trying to write about a character's personality, you can't just list and summarize ten different stories in the book which implies that the character is a badass. Just write that he's a badass. Which leads into...
  5. Leave out the details. Perhaps counter-intuitive, but important. We're trying to write a wiki, not a novel. There's a tendency to want to re-create the Awesome that the author wrote down. In an article about a battle, people will painstakingly try to write every bit of detail, about who threw what punch, about the exact words that people say, about how awesome the character sounds. But really, what you should really just write is, "After a short conversation, the characters engage in a battle, which ends in the defeat of character B." When you write every detail, about every word that's said and punch that's thrown, it's unprofessional and sounds like a rabid fanboy writing. More importantly, it's burdensome to read. Specialist wikis should convey a greater level of information than Wikipedia, but it's an encyclopedia article, meant to provide an easily-understandable and digestible summary, for people that forgot or didn't understand the scene. Too much detail actually impedes understanding and readability. But probably most importantly, I find it a moral and ethical problem to put in too much detail. The book is the book. Nothing should ever replace the book. An encyclopedia article is a neutral, source of facts and information; it shouldn't seek to reproduce the Awesome that the author put in, because that's not its purpose. If you want that, then buy the book. I've seen "summaries" which are so detailed, that they are essentially book replacements. And that is morally and ethically wrong.