wikidoc:Avoiding common mistakes
Newcomers to Wikidoc may find that it's easy to commit a faux pas. That's OK; everybody does it! Here are a few common ones you might try to avoid:
Helping in the wrong way
- Making dictionary-type entries. We take the stance that Wikidoc is not an academic medical dictionary. Each article should aim to cover its topic beyond a simple definition and teach something about greater context.
- Making redundant articles. Before creating a new article, run a search for the topic; you may find a related one that already exists. Consider adding to existing articles before creating an entirely new one. In searching keywords, remember that article titles are usually singular, e.g. "Tree", not "Trees".
- Deleting useful content. A piece of content may be written poorly, yet still have a purpose. Consider what a sentence or paragraph tries to say. Clarify it instead of throwing it away. If the material seems miscategorized or out of place, consider moving the wayward material to another page, or creating a new page for it. If all else fails, and you can't resist removing a good chunk of content, it's usually best to move it to the article's "Talk page", which can be accessed using the "discussion" button at the top of each page. The author of the text once thought it valuable, so it is polite to preserve it for later discussion.
- Deleting biased content. Biased content can be useful content (see above). Remove the bias and keep the content.
- Deleting without announcing that you're doing it. Remark on it in the edit summary box. Otherwise, other users who care about the article's development will be caught unaware, and may think you're being intentionally sneaky.
- Deleting without justifying. Deleting anything that isn't trivial requires some words of justification in the edit summary or on the talk page. If the justification is presented on the talk page, you can simply write "See talk:" in the edit summary box.
- Deleting or removing text from any Talk page without archiving it. Talk pages or any discussion pages are part of the historical record in Wiki. Every time the pages are cleaned up, don't forget to store the removed text in its corresponding archive.See How to archive a talk page.
- Deleting your User Talk page or removing text from your User Talk page. Your User Talk page is the best way others have of communicating with you. It's OK to clean up or archive old content, but please be careful before removing content from your User Talk page; it may look as though you're trying to hide criticism.
- Over-respecting "the author".
- Critiquing instead of editing. Articles have no single author with one overarching plan. Offering a suggestion or critique on the Talk page can be helpful, but it is often faster to just give the article what you think it needs.
- Failing to be bold in updating pages. Yes, you might mess things up a little. But someone else will probably clean up after you. Really, go ahead and change it. We mean it.
- Over-capitalizing titles. For instance, the second word in "French grammar" is in lowercase.
- Over-Wikifying. Wikidoc thrives on internal links, but keep it within reason; see the style guideline, manual of style.
Taking it too seriously
- Arming for war. WikiDoc is a unique community of reasonable and consensus-oriented people. In other words, this isn't Usenet, and flaming is severely looked down upon. For more about Wikidoc manners, see Etiquette.
- Using WikiDoc pages as a chat room.
- Getting annoyed because you find some bad articles. WikiDoc is a work in progress; please tolerate our imperfection, and help us improve. There are a lot of smart people here, and everyone finds they have something to contribute.
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