Biographical Wiki:Standards

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This page describes the standards currently accepted for page formatting and composition by the Biographical Wiki community. Please try to follow these standards when creating and editing pages.


A few guidelines that it is wise to follow when creating and editing wiki pages:

Always use the Summary box

When editing pages, always fill in the "Summary" box above the Save/Preview buttons before saving, and make sure that you fill it in with something useful describing the edit you made and, if it's not obvious, why. For example, "fixed spelling error" or "added fun fact" or "reverted from vandal" are all acceptable. Saying "made some changes" or just filling in the name of the page is not helpful, because it's information that we already have. Making your Summaries accurate and useful makes it vastly easier for the rest of us to keep track of Recent Changes and keeps everybody happy.

Use the Minor Edit button appropriately

As a corollary to the above, if you're making a minor edit (e.g. fixing a spelling error, tweaking formatting, or reverting a vandalized page to its original state), check the "This is a minor edit" button below the Summary box before saving the page. On the other hand, if you're making an addition, deletion, or other edit that changes the substance of a page (even if it's just a few words), do not mark the edit as minor. Again, this will make things easier for the rest of us.

Don't link to the current page

In other words, a page should not link to itself. Most pages that do so are actually just stubs with a link to edit the current page. This variety of self-link is OK but feel free to expand upon these articles and remove the stub tag.

Link once

A given biography should only contain one link to any other page. If a page links to Martha Ann Truman in one place, then that should be the only link to Martha Ann Truman on that page. Typically this link should be the first instance of the term in the article. For example, parents in a biography are linked the first time they are mentioned, and nowhere else. Infoboxes, however, can contain a second link to family members.


The code <span class="plainlinks"></span>, is used to remove the External.png from external links. This class should only be used enclosing links within HRWiki which can not be linked to using the standard [[Link]] format. Such links include All talk pages, Log pages, History pages, and several others. Use is not recommended in most cases due to possible confusion with an interwiki link, which would appear identical to an internal link of the plainlinks class.

The plainlinks tag causes problems with the accompanying icon.

Special Characters

When you must include characters that are not available in 7-bit ASCII encoding (generally, anything you can't type on your keyboard without using special tricks), please use character references, either numeric (&#233; = é) or entity (&eacute; = é) style. Do not use whatever feature of your operating system allows you to insert special characters directly, as this introduces complicated encoding concerns to both the server and the browser. This includes features like Microsoft Word's "AutoCorrect", which often automatically creates such things as arrows, ellipses, em dashes, and left/right quotation marks as you type.

Try to avoid special characters when possible, as some systems and browsers struggle with them. In particular, be sure to use the generic ' and " characters for all single and double quotation marks and apostrophes except in special cases. The exception, however, is the em dash (&mdash; = —), which is much preferable to a single or double hyphen (- or --) when it's used to mark out an independent clause within a sentence or to indicate interruption of a thought.

Don't use conversational style

This is an information site. It should read like Wikipedia, not like your diary.

  • Check your spelling and grammar. Don't use Internet slang (ex. "How r u?" or "c u 2nite"). If you're not 100% sure about the way a word is spelled, type it into Google or If you know that you're not the strongest speller, compose your edits in a word processor like Microsoft Word that has spell-checking built in.
    • An exception to this rule is when such misspellings or slang appear directly in a quoted reference, in which case they should be preserved in the biography.
  • Don't use "smileys" or "emoticons".
  • Don't "reply" to content others have posted. If you think a particular point warrants discussion, post on the article's Discussion page. If you're 100% sure that something should be changed and don't think a discussion is necessary, just change it. Dialogue goes only on articles' Discussion pages or the forum.
  • Don't leave notes or instructions to future editors like "Add more information here if you find it". Again, use the article's Discussion page if you want to communicate with other editors.
  • Never abbreviate the names. Wherever possible, use the full name of an individual the first time they are mentioned.
  • If something on a page contains a factual error, then edit it or remove it. Do not add a comment below saying "this is wrong."

Don't sign your edits

All contributions are appreciated, but if every user left their mark on every contribution they made, the wiki would be nothing but signatures. If you've made an edit that you're particularly proud of (such as a transcript or screenshot), the correct place to take credit is on your own user page. If you do not have a user account, we respect your anonymity, but your edits will remain anonymous, too.

Do sign your Talk posts

If you make a post on a discussion page, please sign it. If you have a user account, this is as easy as typing ~~~~ at the end of your post. If you don't have a user account, just sign it with your name or nickname so everybody can tell who's who when reading long conversations. Even better, create an account anyway and use the signature method described. There really is no reason not to if you're going to stick around. Also, please try to keep discussions on the one talk page, not moving it to another talk page and replying.

Be bold, but know when not to be

We encourage you to be bold in making simple edits; if you see something that you think needs to be fixed, then fix it. Please note, however, that in being bold you should not contradict established consensus. Additionally, the reason we encourage boldness is because it's fairly simple to revert a page to a previous state. For larger projects, therefore, the amount of boldness you display in making a change should be directly proportional to the ease of reverting that change. In other words, if it would take us a long time to undo what you've done, then you should start a discussion to see what the community thinks first. In a similar vein, anything that goes against longstanding tradition or that would have a widespread effect on the wiki should be talked about before any action is taken.

See also