Help:Editing policies

From SNIC Documentation
Jump to: navigation, search

This page contains information on how one should edit this wiki, eg: best practices, protocols, templates and the like.

See for example:

Help:Recommendations for editors
How to configure your account and to make sure your information gets displayed correctly.

Semantic mediawiki extension

The snicdocs wiki uses the semantic mediawiki extension, which enables nifty things like dynamic generation of lists, tables and mashups based on tagged data in ordinary wiki pages. The annotation is unobtrusive, e.g:

I am competent with [[expertise::Python]].

to note that this page (or rather the person described by this page) is competent in Python. The search/generate syntax is equally straightforward

{{#ask: [[Category:Software]] [[Category:Bioinformatics]] |?centre }}

However, we must not let nomenclature run rampant and diverge (see: the problem with the semantic web). See naming protocol below.


In case the examples appear in red, or if you see similar broken links with double colons in them in other places on the wiki, do not edit the links. They appear because you have happened to come across the pages before we have managed to install the semantic mediawiki extension properly on our production server. This problem should disappear very shortly, and if it persists beyond your definition of shortly, it may help to edit the page, do nothing, and click save, to prod mediawiki to regenerate the links. If nothing works, please notify User:Joel Hedlund (NSC).

Categories and properties

The snicdocs wiki makes extensive use of properties and categories, in part to simplify navigation for the users, but mostly because it permits straightforward creation of dynamically generated lists, tables and mashups using the semantic mediawiki extension. This, however, requires generous peppering of category and property tags onto wiki pages, using great restraint and strict discipline so that nomenclature does not run rampant and diverge (see: the problem with the semantic web).

Categories and properties have many things in common, however with gross oversimplification one could say that categories tend to be easier to use and are more magic, while properties are more flexible. Categories are big things. Adding categories to a page not only annotates the page to fall under those categories, but also adds cross links and generates indexes. They are great for searching and finding, but less good for dynamic generation of content. For example, this table:

{{#ask: [[Category:Bioinformatics]] [[Category:Application expert]] | ?centre | ?expertise }}

could not be generated if the pages had not been annotated with properties stating that NSC is a place where a person works, and that these other things are in fact stuff they do good. The reason we don't drop categories altogether is that categories have much added sweet sugary magic which would take a lot of boring effort to recreate with properties each time they're used in that fashion.

When to use one or the other should be quite obvious from gut feeling or looking at examples, but if in doubt: use categories. If using categories leads to awkwardness or unwanted effects, use properties.

Guidelines for creating new categories and properties

Do not invent categories and properties recklessly!
Check these lists first, to see if any of the already existing ones may suit your needs:
Use singular for names
E.g. Application expert, Resource, Centre...
Follow the naming protocol for titles, headings and names
It's right here.
Use descriptive and unambiguous names
Especially for properties. Keep in mind that these will be used to define searches and will also end up as headings in dynamically generated tables, unless other people do extra work to change it on each use.
Are you creating a new subcategory?
Categories can be nested in a DAG (tree) structure. Look at the current list of top categories:
Does yours fit on that list, or will it fit better as a sub(-sub)-category? Drill down and see, and annotate your new category accordingly.
What does it mean, exactly?
What does it entail? How should it be used? Add a brief and unambiguous description to the property page (eg: Property:Expertise, or Category:Application expert). Leave no room for misinterpretation, as this could potentially make your work useless.
Use Type:Page (the default) for properties
You of course have lots of freedom when it comes to selecting a type for your property (cf. Special:Types), but generally, you should use the default unless it would be ludicrous to do so (e.g. it's a number, date, etc...). These are examples where the default "Type:Page" is the most useful: [[expertise::python]], [[expertise::MSA]], [[centre::NSC]], [[image::warface.jpg]]. In short, do not mess around with types and everything will probably work out OK.
Except when it's ludicrous to do so
Property:Description is of type string, because these should be unique, should be a phrase, and would thus look silly as a page heading or link, and for other reasons that are clearly written out on its property page. A numeric property that gives the number of petaflops on a resource would likewise be silly with Type:Page. If need arises, combat need with careful consideration, and when you finally give in, choose another type and provide reasonable rationale on the Property page.

Creating pages

Ensure that you have set up your watch preferences and notifications correctly.
Watch all pages that you create. Unwatched pages rot and we do not want that.
Look at the example pages
These are in the proper layout and use all the nifty templates for getting all the required information right. Chances are that much of the tedious work has already been done for you.
Put some deep thought into the choice of page title.
This is a wiki, so it matters a lot. See the relevant example pages for more details. Read the naming policies for titles, headings and names so you get it right.
Create the talk page
Also called the Discussion page. As this wiki is not open for unauthenticated editing other than through the talk pages, these are our primary form of input from the general public.

Page examples, designs and templates

The examples and designs are all here:

Category:Example page

along with motivation on why you should not call them templates (because mediawiki has called dibs on that term).

Editing help

Editing help is available here: Help:Editing.