Wiki Style Guide

InfoInfo TalkTalk

  1. What should I name my page?
    1. General naming rules
    2. A note on names for people
      1. Simple rule
      2. Initials
    3. Renaming pages & Redirecting pages
  2. Search!
  3. Be kind and courteous!
  4. Layout Stuff
    1. Order of Lists
    2. Conversations and Comments
  5. Simple conventions
    1. Date Conventions
    2. Building pages so searching works best
  6. Citing Sources

Don't panic! These are just suggestions and you are under no obligation to follow them — but keep in mind that others may decide to change your pages' names, links, and content to match these guidelines. We are trying to create a flexible, creative environment, but also one without a whole lot of confusion. This guide should be taken with a grain of salt.

We never want guidelines to interfere with your ability or motivation for expressing yourself and getting your ideas out. Your ideas are the most important thing. This is a style guide, which means it's just the style we try to aim for to make sure we're all on the same page when it comes to conventions.

When in doubt, check out the university's [WWW]Communications Style Guide (pdf) or the [WWW]AP Stylebook. Note that style is not absolute; different places can have styles different from the AP and still be perfectly acceptable as long as they're consistent. For instance, the DavisWiki has come to use "AM/PM" instead of "a.m./p.m."

What should I name my page?

If you're making a page, picking a good name for it is important. If the place/idea has a proper name then you should try and make that the page name. For instance, Kerr Hall is often referred to as simply "Kerr" but you should make the page name "Kerr Hall" because this is the officially used name of the building. When you decide to link to Kerr, you can/should link to it with whatever name you want, be it Kerr, Kerr Hall, or the Mathematics building. When making a page for something without a universal name, just use the normal rules for capitalization in the English language.

Sometimes it's not clear what the real name of the place/thing/idea you're making a page for should be. In these cases of confusion, just make a decision as to what the page name should be, then make note of the alternative possibilities in the page itself. Referring to the other possible names allows people to do searches and find the page under any of the possible names. An example of this is the 24 Hour Reading Room, which is known as both the "Extended Hours Reading Room" and the "24 Hour Reading Room". It's not clear what the name of the page should be, so a simple reference to the other name (somewhere in the page, probably toward the beginning) fixes this and allows people to find it in a search (searching is very important for people who don't use the site regularly). Also, making redirects (by making the page contain only the line #redirect The name of the page) allows the other names to be used without problems — they will simply redirect to the one page, whatever it happens to be named.

General naming rules

What do you guys think of capitalizing the first word of a page name and leaving the rest lower-case unless it's a proper name? Personally, I think it looks much better. - MikeIvanov

A note on names for people

If you want to make a page about someone, say the UCD Chancellor, Larry Vanderhoef, you should probably name that page "Larry Vanderhoef" (note the space). If on the other hand you are Larry Vanderhoef you could create a page for yourself with the name "Users/LarryVanderhoef". The page that start with "Users/" is going to be the page associated with a particular wiki user. A link to this page is in their upper right hand corner all the time and is automatically linked when they make an edit or comment, so this page is tied to the wiki user in a special way.

Think of it this way: the username page (starts with "Users/") is the page for that person to use. The page without the "Users" in front is the page where historical information about the person might go.

Simple rule

Pages that start with "Users/" are pages for people on the wiki to use. Pages without the "Users" in front are just like normal wiki pages, etiquette-wise, which means they are pages from a more biographical standpoint. Generally, people put highly-personal or wiki-centric information on their own page. If they're a public figure, then other people are expected to control the content of the biographical page.


When we're making pages for public figures who have an initial in their name, do we use a period? Peter J. Shields has a period, but JB Anderson does not (there are others as well). What's the consensus opinion here?aa

Renaming pages & Redirecting pages

Sometimes, for whatever reason, it's a good idea to change the title of a page. Using the "Rename" feature will cause the old page to redirect to the new page, and thus all old links do not need to be updated. This old page is said to be a "redirect" to the new page. Redirects can be made manually, by inserting #redirect Page Name into the first line of a page.

It's important to keep the wiki clean, and thus many useless pages are eventually deleted. Redirecting pages are sometimes seen as useless when no other pages within the wiki link to them. Here are some things to consider before deleting a redirecting page:

  1. Does the redirecting page aid the user in finding the content by providing an alternative title for the material?

  2. Do resources outside the wiki link to the redirecting page?

(1) is usually easy enough to figure out, but (2) is harder to know because even good search engines cannot index everything.


Searching is very important! Before you make a page you should do a search for it and similar items to make sure the page doesn't already exist. If the page already exists, add to it! If it exists but has (as you feel) the incorrect name, then feel free to Rename it (by going into Edit and pressing "Rename" down under the edit area) — be sure to state your reason. After renaming the page you should change the old links to the old name to the new name — again, by doing a search :) (search for the old page name) — note: you don't have to do this, as the old page name will automatically redirect to the new page name, but it's good style, and good style is sexy.

Be kind and courteous!


Layout Stuff

Order of Lists

Generally, when listing a bunch of links or just making a list in an article, they should be organized alphabetically, unless there is a good reason to do otherwise.

Conversations and Comments

Often times the conversations or comments inside of a page contribute a lot to the page's worth. If possible, integrate and re-structure the page to reflect the important information contained in comments. If a comment is directed at you and it's hardly valuable to anyone else after you've read it, then removing it un-clutters the page. Leaving the subjective/experience-based portions of comments attributed to those who make them keeps (more) subjective knowledge around.

Simple conventions

Date Conventions

In the U.S. people usually write dates as MM-DD-YY. The two-digit years caused the Y2K panic. Incredibly, people seemed to learn nothing from that and still write MM-DD-YY. This is especially confusing with low years, as they can be confused with month or day numbers. For example, when is 01-05-11? Parts of Europe use DD-MM-YY, other places uses YY-MM-DD, it can be ambiguous. Imagine looking back from 2050 and needing to determine when a document dated 01-05-11 was written.

It turns out there is an international standard for dates. It's called ISO-8601 and was developed by the International Organization for Standardization. Simply put, it is YYYY-MM-DD. It was determined not by political means, but by scientific (rational) means. It has these advantages:

It's easy for Americans to learn the new system since the month and date order don't change.

I strongly encourage all people to use this new universal standard, and I have done so since 2000-01-01. —SteveDavison

This is the format used by Wiki comments, BTW.

See also: Wiki Ethics, Davis Wiki Guide and [wiki]Good Style.

I want to add the following, because I think it's important:

Building pages so searching works best

Try to avoid segmenting and replicating information across pages. Putting the same information on a bunch of pages makes keeping information updated extremely difficult and also makes searching very hard. Keep the information about a particular topic on the page devoted to that topic, for the most part. General pages that collect information from specific pages are terrific and useful, but keep in mind that you want to minimize replication of things that change frequently otherwise it will become harder, down the road, to keep it all updated.

Thoughts? I'm not sure I'm phrasing this very concisely or clearly, so I'd appreciate any help.. Maybe it would be best to just say "When editing, keep in mind the years to come and what will need to be updated and how difficult that may be."? —PhilipNeustrom

(from AlphaDog) How about:

Citing Sources

It is good practice to cite any sources you use, particularly if you are using a direct quote or facts/figures from a publication or website. Note that Davis Wiki does not follow the strict [wikipedia]Verifiability and [wikipedia]No Original Research policies of Wikipedia, especially the latter, since the local nature of the subject allows for much primary research.

If a reference is applicable to a specific passage, use the footnote [wikispot]macro after the end of the sentence or paragraph. e.g.

If a reference is applicable to large parts of the page, cite it at the end in a "References" or "Sources" section. The format of the citation is not important but should at least contain the title, author and date of publication for both printed material and online resources. Linking to the URL via the title is preferred, but do not just cite the URL, as it could change. Giving the author, title and publication (even for online articles) gives later editors and readers a chance to find the article via internet or site search engines.

Primary research can be either footnoted or information relevant to the source can be added in the edit comment. For instance "I stopped in yesterday and asked". For items that might change in the future, a footnote indicating when or where the information was gathered might be appropriate.

Note that another way to reference material is via interwiki links. Material that is removed from the target can be retrieved by looking up the history of the citation and then the history of the target article. As a result, a simple link can be made.

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