Good Style Suggestions

Additional writing habits have formed beyond those mentioned in GoodStyle. Here are some more suggestions, some of which are subsequently debated.

  1. At the top, establish a context: Tell the reader what the page is about.
  2. Tell important information first, go into details later. Think of the wiki page as newspaper article. Readers are impatient: they start at the top and read down. If they care enough about the page to edit it, they scroll to the bottom (because the EditPage button is there).
  3. Link to other relevant wiki pages wherever possible. Links increase the value of the WikiWikiWeb.
  4. When appropriate, use categories for automatic indexing. See WikiCategories.
  5. Unless you prefer anonymity, sign and date your comment. -- LarsAronsson (18 May 2001)
    • In some circles this is hotly disputed. As a collaborative WebSite we are working together. Individual contributions are generally discouraged, and dated information especially so. Only put a date on something if it will expire and should be updated and removed.
  6. Readers love enumerated lists, (of 7 entries +/-2 i.e. 5-9 entries (see SevenPlusOrMinusTwo)).
  7. WikiWikiWebOrTheWikiWikiWeb: For WikiHistory reasons, when referring to this WikiForum please say "WikiWikiWeb" (without the definite article) instead of "the WikiWikiWeb".

These probably deserve to be considered, pondered, cherished and grokked for a while before eventual inclusion in GoodStyle.

On the other hand ...

Some good advice from DealingWithMinorityOpinions

One should write with the goal of increasing his own understanding. Use written text to clarify one's thoughts, to ask questions of another, or to respond to questions.

Avoid use of "You." You is often used merely as a generic reference, but it is quite easy for a reader to interpret it as a personal reference. I tend to use "one," which although it sounds quaint, seems to come across as less accusatory.

Do not assume the motivations of another, do not even worry what the motivations may be. Assume the other person is also writing with the goal of increasing his understanding.

If someone makes a statement one disagrees with, ask questions to lead to personal understanding of the statement. Do not ask questions merely to try to "trap" another.

Do not try to have the last word in a discussion. Once one has reached his goal of increased understanding, walk away. Respond to serious questions by others who are trying to understand, but also allow others to disagree without comment.

One should not repeat one's self. Say something once. If there is disagreement, try to understand the view of the one disagreeing. This understanding of others will only lead to greater understanding of one's own beliefs.

Accept disagreement. No harm results from disagreement, and one should be able to walk away with a clearer understanding of his own beliefs. One is unlikely to change the beliefs of another, especially in the course of a few days. Changes in beliefs may occur, but will likely take months or years.

(However, don't create links to a non-existent page unless you are planning to create it.) . There's something to be said for not littering a page with dangling links, but there's definitely more than one reason to create them.

If someone has more information, are they not capable of creating the link themselves? Okay, in certain limited circumstances (ie a continuing near-real-time discussion) leave the link broken, if you know it will be picked up. But don't expect someone to complete your thoughts for you.

Sign and date contra EgolessWiki and DatestampsConsideredHarmful


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