Wiki Writing Guidelines
The following page describes guidelines for writing on this wiki.
Other wiki guidelines:
- Editing the Core Beliefs and Practices - these sections cannot be edited freely; there is a separate procedure for editing them.
- Creating Wiki Pages - when to create a new page.
For wiki formatting help, see our Basic Wiki Markup Guide.
One goal of editing this wiki is to reach consensus and have the writing on the wiki reflect the consensus of the group. However, the reaching of consensus is an active process, involving repeated editing by many users, and at a given point of time, any piece of writing on the wiki may not reflect the consensus of the group.
A good general guideline is to do your best to make your writing reflect the consensus of the group, but to assume that you will make mistakes at describing this consensus. When reading material, it is not safe to assume that it reflects the consensus of our group unless it is marked as part of our core beliefs and practices, which are agreed upon by consensus at meetings and are not edited on the wiki without first establishing consensus.
Voice, mood, writing style
This wiki, unlike Wikipedia, is written from the perspective of our group. It contains a mixture of informational material, which can be written similarly to how one would write on Wikipedia, together with information about our group, our beliefs, practices, experiences, and perspectives.
Writing in the first person plural: "we", "us", and "our"
When writing on this wiki, feel free to use the first person plural, the words "we", "us", and "our", when describing Why This Way, and our beliefs, practices, discussions, etc. However, be very careful when writing in the first person plural, to follow the rules of communication, specifically, to avoid exaggerating. For example:
- Only write "We believe..." if you genuinely believe there to be a consensus in the group on that issue.
- When there is no consensus, carefully consider options like "some of us believe", "many of us believe", "most of us believe", or "a few of us believe", and choose the word that most accurately reflects the group. Try to be as accurate as possible, but when in doubt, choose understatement over exaggeration.
- Keep in mind that our group, the participants in it, and the beliefs of the group and its participants are continuously evolving. Expect statements of belief to change.
Writing in the second person: "you", "your"
In contrast to Wikipedia, this wiki uses the second person extensively. Our wiki includes beliefs, practices, and writings on how we think about the world and about religion. We want to engage with our users in a more direct way than an encyclopedia would, and we want to provide material that can be directly useful in a person's life in a practical sense. However, it is especially important to follow our rules of communication when interacting with the reader through our wiki.
In particular, when writing in the second person, using words like "you" and "your":
- Be especially careful of avoiding should statements (including equivalent statements that do not use the word should) when talking in the second person.
- Do not make any statements about the reader's thoughts, intentions, or motivations.
- Instead of saying "You may believe that..." you could share the more objective: "One belief we have encountered a lot is..."
These sorts of statements run contrary to our rules of communication. If you want to express a similar statement, find a way to reword them without a "you" statement.
Imperative mood for instructions
When writing rules, guidelines, or other instructions, write directly in the imperative case. Do not use should statements to express rules. Examples:
- Instead of saying "You should not exaggerate." say "Do not exaggerate."
- Instead of saying "Edits to this page should reflect the consensus of the group." say "Obtain the consensus of the group before editing this page."
- Instead of saying "If you are interested in getting involved, you should contact this person..." say "If you are interested in getting involved, contact this person..."
Posts on discussion pages may be I-statements and do not need to reflect consensus, but we still require people to follow the rules of communication. Sign your posts at the end with four tildes:
This will automatically generate your username and the date and time.
Before reverting an edit that someone else made, unless the edit is clearly problematic, write on the talk page and the user's talk page why you would like to revert the edit, and/or ask the person why they made the edit, so that you can come to a consensus about what to write on the wiki.
When creating a page or category, use title case capitalization. For headings and sub-headings, use sentence case.
Using the "needs work" template
If you come across a section of the wiki where you are uncomfortable with the ideas presented or the wording, but you don't want to delete it and you don't know how to reword it, you can use the "needs work" template. At the beginning of the section, write:
And on the discussion page, describe why you are not satisfied, as specifically and thoroughly as possible.