There are lots of things that could be done multiple ways, and wikis often evolve informal, unwritten style guides - ways of doing things - that we've attempted to write down to help incoming editors and admins.
Almost all of these conventions are logical (e.g. move pictures to the right side of the page, where there's often blank space available). One or two we follow just to keep the wiki looking consistent - they may be arbitrary, but it's still important to follow them so the site is easy to navigate for people who may be coming here for the first time.
You may also want to look at examples of well-formatted pages to see how they're structured. Here are some examples of pages:
Organizational pages (e.g. business, non-profit, etc.): Ambrosia Cafe & Catering, City of Sacramento Animal Care Services
- Organizational page with more than one location: Marie Callender's
- Neighborhoods: Boulevard Park
- Parks: Cesar E. Chavez Plaza
These are conventions that pertain to the header rows of a page (the table that appears in the top left of many pages, for example in Temple Coffee House).
- You don't need to include "Sacramento, CA" in the address (it's assumed). But it's not a crime to include it, so don't feel bad if you've been including it.
- If the organization has multiple addresses in different cities, list the address (or addresses) that are in or near Sacramento first. Explain in the body of the page, if necessary, that there are other addresses elsewhere. See, for example, Guide Dogs for the Blind.
If you create a page from a template (for example, from the Templates/Business), and you don't have some information for one of the headers, the best thing is to research that information. If you can't find the information, delete the rows you can't fill in.
After the header table of a page (which contains simple, formatted text such as phone number, address, etc. - not all pages have a header table) is the content of the page. Here are some guidelines about the page content:
- The name of the page usually appears early in the first sentence of the content, and is always bolded when it first appears. For example: "The Sacramento Wiki is a website about everything in Sacramento."
- The content should begin with text (not with a title) about the page. So you don't need a "About page-name" title, or a title that duplicates the page name. For example, a page about the State Senate should not have "About the State Senate" or "The State Senate" as titles.
Attribute material you get from other sources.
- Attribute body material by writing a note in italics at the end of the article. For example: "Some information from the City's website". (We're not too strict about references, but it's a good idea to mention where you got information from.)
- Attribute a photo's source by using a caption.
- Personal experience with the subject of the page should usually be placed in the Comments section, unless it is the personal experience of the founder or director of the organization.
- No page (with the possible exception of Explore) should be a list without other content (a naked list). Try to write something about the subject you're writing about - for example, the Taxi Services page should not only list taxi services in Sacramento, but should also have some information about the general "taxi scene" in Sacramento - whether many people tend to use taxis, the cachet of using taxis instead of driving or taking the bus, etc. If you don't know about the taxi scene of Sacramento (or about whatever page you're working on), you should still create the page - having the list of taxi services is better than not having it - but if you do know, please take some time to write about the list. (You can also see the page of Naked Lists if you want to add your knowledge to a subject.)
Pages shouldn't be advertisements. Tone down language that's overtly sales-like.
- Unlike Wikipedia we do not strive to present a Neutral Point of View in pages. The value of diversity in a community based wiki helps to present many points of view and opinions that are all valuable and reflective of the community. Freedom of speech is tied to a certain expectation about responsibility of speech; you can't have one without the other.
Advice that's temporarily irrelevant, until Localwiki includes these features:
- Use a table of contents just above the first title (and below the beginning text of the article that explains the basics of the page) if the page is long enough to require scrolling.
The Sacwiki has quite a few bullet-point lists - there are tons of restaurants, for example, and a bullet-point list is one of the most obvious ways to organize the links to all the restaurant pages. But bullet points aren't always the best way to organize information. Bullet-point lists tend to be very boring to look at, and can make a page really long. If possible, we like to avoid using bullet points if we can. We should try to avoid making lists when possible, though none of the recommendations and strategies below are hard-and-fast rules.
If the the items you want to list mostly have short names, and you don't need to include much or any information after each list item, try making a comma-separated list instead of a bullet-point list. The neighborhoods page makes good use of this strategy - imagine how long the page would be if each of those neighborhoods had its own bullet point! This is successful in part because most of the neighborhoods have short names. The restaurants page, on the other hand, would not be a good candidate for a comma-separated list, because each restaurant listed also lists its address. Turning that into a comma-separated paragraph would probably be even uglier than a bullet-point list. (Since each restaurant's Sacwiki page already contains the restaurant's address, it might make sense to get rid of the addresses on the restaurants page. At that point, a comma-separated list might make more sense.)
If the list you want to make only has a few items, it's probably better to turn into a sentence or two. On our Business Directory page, for example, we chose to write out several special categories of businesses, rather than listing them. We wrote "You may also want to check out places to get things that are free or affordable. Or check out the businesses that open early or late. If you're looking for businesses that used to be here, you should check out our Departed Businesses page." You can look at the page's history to see what an improvement it was.
Lists can be good when there are several options or alternatives, and clarity is very important for getting information across. On the Internships and Fellowships page, for example, there are several conditions a for-profit business must meet before it can offer unpaid internships. (Otherwise it may only offer paid internships.) It would be entirely possible to list those conditions as a paragraph, but it is important to emphasize that each must be met separately. For the sake of clarity, a numbered or bullet-point list is the best choice.
One of the strengths of a wiki is that related pages can link to each other. This makes it easy for a user to find what they're looking for - even if they didn't know they were looking for it in the first place. Here are some linking conventions:
Pages about specific organizations, places, people, etc. should link to the category (or categories) they belong to early in the page content. Some examples:
- Zelda's Original Gourmet Pizza is a popular pizza restaurant in Sacramento. Note that although in the sentence you want to use the word "restaurant", you should link to the correct page name, which is "restaurants" (plural).
- RedRover is an animal support organization in Sacramento. (Again, we linked to the animal organizations page, but used the text "animal support organization" to fit within the description of RedRover.)
- Link to helpful pages, but only the first time they appear on the page you're editing. So if you're writing about Zelda's Original Gourmet Pizza, you should link the first instance of "restaurant", but not every following mention of the word "restaurant".
- Although many pages include helpful text at the bottom to link to other related pages (e.g. "See also Parks page"), linking within natural text is preferable. So it would be better to begin the article "Cesar Chavez Park is one of the many parks in Sacramento", since that puts the link in context, and doesn't require the reader to go any further if they want to see the page about all the parks in Sacramento.
- Locate images on the right side of the page (where there's usually blank space). Double-click an image that's already on the page to edit its properties, and select "right" from the Alignment section.
- If the image is large, and seems to be pushing other page content out of the way in an annoying way, you can shrink the image by clicking the image once and dragging the corners.