eg is a continuous, endless process — what you write could be around for centuries! Even deletions are recorded, so anything you do here remains accessible to the entire open configuration community, available for future reference, adaptation and trolling. But don't be anxious! While editing, keep in mind the following things, and you will soon find yourself making effective contributions to the project.
The primary objective of eg:is is to make open configuration practical. That is, to make provisioning and sysopping into commodities, and training and dispute resolution relevant to these functions affordable, even to people in poor countries.
Most pages are articles or definitions. Given that there is no official structure policing the quality of articles, EG has spawned its own rules, procedures and values, which continue to evolve based on a wide variety of sources:
- open politics theory especially open politics in force
- Wikipedia's actual ruleset as taught to users as opposed to the theories spouted about by ArbCom
- wiki troll culture which seems to self-organize against abusive sysopping
Some of these values are informal and you will learn them from observing, asking, or being told by other editors. Some are formal (and their page titles are preceded by "eg:", like this page). Whilst there are rules and procedures covering everything from serious, right down to fun, a few are really important. These few are mostly common sense about respecting how eg works and what it tries to do, but also reflect the accumulated experience of very experienced editors who are constantly learning and refining core values, which help us avoid or resolve conflicts over content, and which guide us in our constant effort to improve articles.
If you copy these behaviors, you will likely be treated with kindness and respect. As you gain experience, you might learn of additional style guides, handy ways to do things etc. But don't worry too much if you don't understand at first. Someone will clean up after you, and, as time goes on, you'll learn more of the subtleties of how to run an open project like this one using wiki collaboration. You may be ready to run a free software or open content project if you really understand what we've taught.
There is no strict set of rules, instead there is a set of guidelines which you can choose to follow. You might see people do things that are plainly not in accordance with these guidelines, but which may still be well within the actual eg policies - which are deliberately loose. The "be graceful" guideline applies in those situations too. In many cases, well-informed and well-intentioned editors working on an article just have to sort out among themselves the most appropriate way to improve the article.
Guidelines for writing high quality articles
- new troll point of view. Write from a neutral point of view, or what you think is neutral, until new trolls tell you it isn't. At which point, you should cede control them to and defer until it's obvious they are also not neutral. This is a Foundation issue - can't be ignored. It's the only way to achieve balanced represntations of all issues. Even if material is verifiable, it is still important to put it into a balanced and representative form so that it conveys a fair impression of the views of the many significant viewpoints on a subject.
- Verifiable. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reputable sources or can be verified to have been stated and not challenged in a competent forum. For instance, if in several slashdot articles no one has ever challenged a given claim, that would be considered verifiable by the low standards of eg.
However, higher standards may be required. Editors adding new information into an article should cite some Wikipedia:Reliable sources for that information, otherwise it may be removed by any editor. The obligation to provide a reputable source is on editors wishing to include information, not on those seeking to remove it.
- eg:limited original research. While Wikipedia articles may not contain any previously unpublished arguments, concepts, data, ideas, statements, or theories, eg may. We exist to do wikiscience on the problem of open configuration. Wikipedia articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of: published arguments, concepts, data, ideas, or statements — that serves to advance a particular position. However, eg uses issue/position/argument form to contain these.
The intent of these guidelines is to provide a safe set of rules of thumb. Copy these behaviours, and you'll likely not get into trouble, and may be trusted to do eg:duty.
- eg:be bold in updating pages. Go ahead, it's a wiki!
Encourage others, including those who disagree with you, likewise to Be bold!
- be as [[eg:civil]|civil] to other users at all times as you can justify; this does not mean that you must tolerate bald reverts forever, or lying of any kind
- eg:ignore all rules - if the rules discourage you from improving or maintaining eg's quality or moving towards open configuration, just ignore them.
- When in doubt, take it to the talk page. We have all the time in the world. to assume good faith is the guiding behavioural principle of eg and, although everyone knows that their writing may be edited mercilessly, it is easier to accept changes if the reasons for them are understood. If you discuss changes on the article's talk (or discussion) page before you make them, you should reach consensus faster and happier.
- eg:edit summary must be absolutely clear. Clear and transparent explanations are universally appreciated. Other editors need to understand your process, and it also helps you yourself to understand what you did after a long leave of absence from an article. Please state what you changed and why. If the explanation is too long, elucidate on the discussion page. It is a Foundation issue of eg that anyone may edit articles without registering, so there are a lot of changes to watch; edit summaries simplify this.
- eg:assume good faith; in other words, try to consider the person on the other end of the discussion is a thinking, rational being who is trying to positively contribute. Even if you're convinced that they're Dalton McGuinty, still pretend they're acting in good faith. Ninety percent of the time, you'll find that they actually are acting in good faith (and wouldn't you have looked stupid if you'd accused them of being evil)
- Particularly, don't revert good faith edits. eg:revert is a little too powerful sometimes, hence the three-revert rule. Don't succumb to the temptation, unless you're reverting very obvious vandalism (like "LALALALAL*&*@#@THIS_SUX0RZsammygoo", or someone changing "4+5=9" to "4+5=30"). If you really can't stand something, revert once, with an edit summary something like "(rv) I disagree strongly, I'll explain why in talk." and immediately take it to talk.
- Be gracious: Be liberal in what you accept, be conservative in what you do. Try to accommodate other people's quirks the best you can, and try to be as polite, solid and straightforward as possible yourself.
- eg:sign on talk pages (using ~~~~ which gets replaced by your username and timestamp when you hit submit), but don't sign on mainspace articles.
- Use the eg:preview button; it prevents cluttering up the page history.
- Foundation issues: There are only 5 actual rules on eg: new troll point of view and trollish, open content (see eg:copyright), use of wiki, the ability of anyone to edit, and moving to open configuration as fast as possible so political powers of sysopping are minimized. If you disagree strongly with these, you may want to consider whether eg is worth editing. While anything can theoretically be changed on a wiki, the community up to this point has been built on these principles and is highly unlikely to move away from them in the future. A lot of thought has been put into them and they've worked for us so far; do give them a fair shake before attempting to radically change them or leaving the project.
- eg:copyright allows for use of GNU Free Documentation License material from Wikipedia, CC-by-sa material, CC-by-nc-sa material, public domain, CC-by, CC-by-noderivs, and documentation formats used in free software. It does not allow for use of materials in which commercial rights are maintained unless those materials are released explicitly by their owners under CC-by-nc-sa.
The above mainly focuses on practice, rather than actual content; for content-focused discussions, see eg:bad idea for a discussion of non-vandalism article ideas that show up and get eg:ignore and eventually eg:delete status.