The following is a proposed guideline suggesting a standardized method for formatting various type of pages on RocWiki. It is very much a work in progress.
RocWiki is a highly unusual wiki in that it attempts to merge encyclopedic knowledge with the personal opinions and experiences of its contributors. It also has a highly egalitarian ideal; editing is encouraged by everyone on almost every page and administration is highly decentralized. RocWiki also strives to communicate the opportunities that the Rochester, New York area provides both to its local citizens and people from outside the area.
As with any other manual of style, we expect that situations may arise where exceptions are appropriate. This is left to the discretion of the actively contributing community. New contributors should be aware that as with any other community, more experienced and more active contributors may be more persuasive in the development of consensus decisions.
There are four general types of pages: directories, destinations, discussions and redirects.
Directory pages consist primarily of categorized lists and the page title should be the category. Hence, the title of a list of hospitals would be Hospitals. There is little to no content per-se on a directory page. If you need a real life analogue, think of a phone book.
Destination pages provide detailed information about a specific business, person, attraction, place or resource. These are divided into many categories, such as businesses, users, towns attractions and roads. This is list is not inclusive, but it gives you some idea of the breadth of this designation. They are all largely fact oriented, however, and should always be linked to from a Directory page (and any pertinent Destination pages), and should have links back as well to help site visitors (particularly those who arrived via a search engine or a deep link) find related Destination and Directory pages. For example, a page for an Italian restaurant in Pittsford ought to have links to Italian Food, Restaurants and Pittsford. No Destination page should be more than 3 links from the Front Page.
Additional expectations for the different categories of Destination pages are described later in this document.
Discussion pages are provided for discussion about site content. Discussion can take place about the veracity or merit of edits and/or the editor's experiences and opinions. Etiquette is especially important on these pages. Discussion may take place on a Destination or Directory page. However, should that discussion become particularly heated or lengthy, the discussion (and all comments to date) should be moved - not duplicated - to a dedicated Talk page. A link to the Talk page should be provided in the area formerly occupied by the Comments macro and comments.
Due to the relaxed nature of RocWiki standards, these page types may blur. Wiki Watchdog uses a directory format but contains destination data. AdminGroup provides a great deal of important information for contributors and visitors, but the primary destination data is the directory listing.
We believe that providing this sort of flexibility will allow site content to scale more cleanly as content grows from isolated pages to very large sets of related information.
Redirect pages contain no content, but provide valuable flexibility for our site visitors and contributors. An example explains this very well. Interstate 390, Highway 390 and Route 390 all lead to the same page, but accommodate the different terms people may use. These are also helpful when dealing with acronyms, common misspellings and popular slang, like pop versus soda.
American title capitalization is the standard. This means that the first letter of each word is capitalized, with exceptions for connecting words like "of." Acronyms should have every letter capitalized, but these pages are used as redirects to the page with the expanded title. Exceptions are acceptable. For example, self-referential acronyms do not have to be expanded in the title. Likewise, for organizations or businesses with non-standard capitalization, RocWiki will use the non-standard version (:nook is preferred to Nook).
Contributor pages are prefixed with "Users/". Biography pages are not. The difference between these page types is described in our etiquette statement. Templates are prefixed with "Templates/" and internal documentation, including proposals, are prefixed with "Wiki Community/".
The first mention of the page title should be in boldface. This helps draw the reader's eyes to the highest-level description of the topic. This is particularly useful if there are other words prior to the topic name or if there are tables, lists, insets or images that may distract the eye.
The descriptive text for a RocWiki entry should ideally be composed of complete sentences to assist with readability and clarity. For instance, rather than "Restaurant in Greece, serves Italian Food," the first sentence of an article might read, "Tony's Pasta Joint is a restaurant in Greece which specializes in Italian food." Many articles will also contain lists, announcements, dates, timelines, etc. which may not require complete sentences, but if possible the initial descriptive paragraph should use complete sentences and proper grammar.
RocWiki does not have absolute rules for preferring a list over a paragraph. The format that best conveys the material at hand should be considered preferable and this may change with the evolving site audience, community norms, and the quantity and nature of the material being expressed.
As RocWiki has a wide audience with an even wider range of interests and educational background, clear, simple language is preferred. As the saying goes, eschew obfuscation, espouse elucidation.
When a technical or unusual term is unavoidable, contributors should provide a wiki, inter-wiki or external web link to a page that defines the concept or term, as was done in the preceding paragraph. The text of the link should provide meaning outside of the context. For example, "See here" should not be used. In general, make an effort to abide by the Wikipedia site accessibility guidelines.
If a contextual link is not feasible or additional local information is required to properly convey the concept, a very brief explanatory passage is acceptable. In the latter case, however, make use of web resources to the extent possible to define the term or concept.
Opinions and Reviews
Contributors' individual opinions on all things Rochester are welcome in the Comments section of the relevant page. Opinions should be kept out of the main article text, however (see NPOV here). In the case of published reviews or commentary on a particular subject, these may be referenced in the main article text, as long as the commentary is appropriately attributed and not represented as established fact. If the commentary is available online, provide a link. Ideally, reviews and commentary should be in a separate section.
For example, it would be undesirable to say in the main article text, "City Wok offers great Chinese food, especially their incredible City Beef." (This would be acceptable in the Comments section, as always). On the other hand, "The Democrat and Chronicle gave City Wok a highly favorable review, and gave particular praise to their City Beef" would be acceptable and encouraged.
Guidelines for businesses
Since RocWiki aspires to be a guide to the city of Rochester, it is natural that a large number of the pages will feature local businesses. In addition, this is what many of the readers of RocWiki find to be the most valuable part of the guide. As such, it is important that the information on local businesses be presented in a manner that is consistent, accurate, timely, and neutral.
The template for businesses when creating a new page provides a guide to the general formatting that is preferred for businesses. A table at the top gives basic information such as type of business, location, hours, and contact info. Immediately below the table should be 1-3 sentences of prose describing the business in general terms. A brief description of the business' offerings may also appear in this first paragraph, but it should be stated in a neutral manner (see Neutrality below) and should be kept relatively brief
After this description, there is a lot of leeway. The page could contain a "History" section, a list of services, pricing info, or upcoming events and sales. However, these should be stated in as neutral a manner as possible, and they should be placed in a separate section to separate them from the general descriptive text.
We strongly frown upon significantly changing the template. Changing colors, reordering rows on the table and significantly altering the page layout makes it harder for visitors to learn about your place of business. This is not a hard and fast rule, but new contributors especially should try to remain true to our provided templates and guidelines. These are designs that have consistently provided good results and have withstood the test of time.
Information about local businesses is subject to rapid change, and due to the number of contributors, RocWiki may not always be updated in a timely fashion. This can become particularly problematic for readers of the guide when, for example, dinner plans are disrupted by a change in restaurant hours, or a trip to a furniture store is wasted because it has relocated.
While readers are advised to check when a page is last updated, there are a few things that contributors can do to reduce confusion. Time-sensitive information should always be written in an absolute sense rather than a relative sense. For instance, if a restaurant page were to say, "Tonight's specials are...", it is difficult for the reader to tell when this refers to. Even if you intend to update the page every day/week/month, etc., you may forget, or your plans may change. It would be far better to say, "The specials for Thursday July 10th, 2008 are...", thereby eliminating any ambiguity. Similarly, saying, "The grand opening will be in September" would be far more helpful if the year were specified. Imagine if you forget to update the page, and then the following year someone decides not to visit your business because they think your opening is still a month away!
If a business has seasonal hours, these should be clearly stated.
We urge you to put "(as of <date>)" in proximity information subject to change such as hours and prices, to avoid any possible confusion.
The inclusion of ad copy is strongly discouraged. Since RocWiki explicitly does not endorse any product or service preferentially, this material, which frequently includes unverifiable superlatives and fuzzy concepts, may actually detriment the perception of RocWiki as a valuable resource for potential customers.
While local business owners are encouraged to create a RocWiki page for describing their business, they are also encouraged to keep in mind that RocWiki aspires to maintain a neutral point of view whenever possible. This may sometimes be difficult when creating a page for one's own business. Since it is often difficult to remain neutral when discussing your own business, someone else may just come along and revise what your wrote. Almost always, they are not being malicious. Their edits may be far reaching at times, but the goal is to bring the text in line with with the RocWiki writing style and to provide relevant facts for the site's visitors. In the process, their endeavors tend to provide a a great deal of benefits in search engine rankings and general visibility for your business.
We provide some examples to clarify this point. The sentence "Now you don't even have to leave the office, as we offer lunch delivery every day from 11AM until 2PM, absolutely free of charge!" would be discouraged. It is preferable to simply state, "Free lunch delivery is offered between 11AM and 2PM." Rather than writing, "So-and-so Corp. has been serving the community for over 25 years," the preferred manner of stating this information would be "So-and-so Corp. was established in Brighton in 1982." Note that the latter sentence is not only more neutral, it is also shorter and contains more information. Verifiable claims like, "Ranked number 1 in 2006 for total car sales in the Rochester area by the Rochester Business Journal" are more desirable than unverifiable claims like, "the most popular dealership in the area."
RocWiki encourages local business owners to announce upcoming events and sales on the page for their business. Once again, a neutral tone should be used when possible (e.g. "Select items in the store are 15-50% off" is good, but "EVERYTHING MUST GO!" is not so good). In addition, it is preferred if sales and events be listed in a separate subsection from the main descriptive text, to separate it from the general description of the business. This will not only help to separate factual/historical material from promotional material, but it may also help the reader to locate sales and events they may be interested in. (As always, temporary sales should be described in an absolute rather than a relative manner, e.g. "Free wine tasting this weekend" is not very good, but "Free wine tasting July 12th-13th, 2008" is much better — see Timeliness above)
Slogans should be identified as such, rather than stated in the page text. For instance, rather than say, "Hurt in a crash? Call Bob Notash," the article might say, "The law office's commercials employ the slogan 'Hurt in a crash? Call Bob Notash." Care should be taken to ensure that the included material satisfies Fair Use requirements under US copyright law and that its inclusion actually ads informational content to the page. Likewise, quotes from sales materials or company employees should be salient to the material at hand and should provide added meaning to the surrounding content without altering the neutrality of the page.
Businesses which have closed
RocWiki maintains pages even for businesses that have closed, as the project serves to record the history of Rochester as well. When a business has closed, this should be marked clearly in the table at the top of the page, as well as in the textual description. Information on hours should be removed, to avoid any possibility of confusion. The page should also be removed from any lists or categories which suggest that it is an active business.
If desired, the business may be added to the page Gone, but not forgotten.
Menus for local restaurants
While restaurant owners are encouraged to advertise their menus on RocWiki, please keep in mind that copying a restaurant's menu may be considered a copyright violation. Make sure you have the restaurant owner's permission before duplicating a menu. Even retyping the menu by hand may infringe on the owner's intellectual property.
Towns and Cities
The Address macro provided by the Sycamore software facilitates an automated link to Google Maps. This can be used conveniently for businesses, where it makes sense to have the address listed in a table at the start of the article. It is somewhat trickier for towns and cities, since giving the address of a city as itself would be redundant. The following template can be used in the first sentence of the article to resolve this problem:
'''[[Address("City Name, NY")]]''' is a city located near... ''etc.''