Forum:Page layout templates and formats

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Forums: Index > Watercooler > Page layout templates and formats

I've seen two discussions regarding the layout of headers on the article pages:

First discussion - how/why the sub-headings are done on articles. I've tended to do them however the existing article was marked up, but I don't really understand why each sub-heading includes the full name (and more) of the article. Surely that is redundant information that just adds to the bulk of the page. It also makes it more difficult to use the headings in the "Contents" list as anchors on the page to direct links in from outside as a link could be something like Zhodani#History & Background (which only takes you to the top of the page as the subheading is not complete) but instead would have to be Zhodani#Zhodani (Sophont) History & Background (Dossier)(which will take you to the desired location on the page).
Second discussion - I don't think it's a good idea to introduce a new article format without discussing it first. I, for one, would not have approved. The basic idea is that we try to keep articles so like actual in-setting library data as we can (subject to various practical limits). The multiple headlines and parentheses makes the articles seem overly busy and quite disquieting to me. It also makes them stylistically different from the 7,000 previous articles. Rancke (talk) 21:24, 26 April 2015 (EDT)

I tend to agree with both of these points. I would like to come to a good agreement about the size and scope of the headers in the article to allow clear delineation of topics without over specification. Tjoneslo (talk) 19:56, 27 April 2015 (EDT)

Hi Rancke, I think you make excellent points. I did not act alone and Tjoneslo liked some of the layouts I helped pioneer enough to make a template out of them. I am very open to discussion and cooperation as part of the community. Please note that there was and still is discussion. I am not a lone wolf and I am a very reasonable person. Thank you. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 20:12, 27 April 2015 (EDT)
Hi Rancke, please also note that these layouts are not a brand new thing. They have been around for nearly four months now and vetted by the community of active users, many of whom like them and have begun to use them. This being a new occurrence to you coincides with your last contribution (before the last few days) being nearly four months ago. At any rate, I do not want to pick a fight. I admire you and your work. Thanks for all of your hard work over the years. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 20:15, 27 April 2015 (EDT)

The heading system, which is very much a work-in-progress, works as following:

SUB 2 hierarchy -- ARTICLE (category) [2-word title such as 'History & Background'] (clarification) --

SUB 3 HIERARCHY --- ARTICLE (One of the two word titles) [area title] ---


[area title] ----

There are four SUB 2 HIERARCHIES common to most articles:

  • Synopsis
  • Description
  • History & Background (Dossier)
  • References & Contributors (Sources)

The above four SUB 2 HIERARCHIES govern most articles, but specific layouts exist for articles, which benefit from other categories.

So, for instance, publications use two different version of the basic SUB-2 HIERARCHY:

  • [Book title] (Book) Synopsis
  • [Periodical title] (Periodical) Synopsis

They both add a category for: [Book title] (Book) Credits

And that's it in a nut shell.

The system was originally developed by intelligence agencies such as the MI6, CIA, KGB, GRU, etc. Hence, the word "dossier." I'm a former military guy and I used similar systems in the two militaries I had experience serving.

It is now also used in many Wikis, particularly those for younger readers (I have worked on the "Five Nights at Freddy's" Wiki), who grew up with electronic information devices, "Handcomps" in Traveller parlance, and do not have the willingness to read long tracts of expository writing.

This system breaks down those expository "whales" into smaller, more digestible pieces and allows readers to pick out what they are most interested in... (such as militaries, synopses, etc.). This often leads to the reader deciding to read the rest of the article.

It also makes it easier for active users to see what's missing from an article and could be added to, such as "History & Background", a GURPS World Paragraph, or other "holes" in what's available.

Since the system has been implemented in January 2015, I have been non-scientifically monitoring the articles and their access counts. Pages with the layout schema are overwhelmingly being read more. This could be due to many factors, but I think at least one contributing factor is that the pages are more organized and it's easier to access the information.

I don't know what the community will, in the end of ends, decide to go with, but I do very much think that the pages could use some kind of an organizational schema.

That's my two cents! Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 13:47, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

As one more aside, I am a former public school teacher and have exposed hundreds of young people over the years to Traveller and other games ("Lunch-time Game Club"). I meet very few young people who have the patience to dig through the canon of dozens or hundreds of Traveller books that now exists. Every time I run games with groups of young people, I refer them to the Traveller, which has been far more successful at getting those same young people interested in Traveller lore and the Traveller OTU storyline. It works. Wiki technology, when well-organized can be one of the best tools we older grognards have for getting the younger generation interested. I see that idea in action all the time. Some of my friend's children and former students get the Traveller bug from a site like this. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 14:07, 28 April 2015 (EDT)
Such an organizational scheme isn't needed for old grognards like many of us, folks like User:Jmattera, User:Ronald B. Kline, Jr., User:OGuutan, User:Tjoneslo and many others. We grew up with Traveller when it consisted of an easily-countable number of books. The newer generation hasn't had that experience and never will. They need help. Plus, as a generality, they are not as literary, as many of us were. They are far more apt to text, surf the Internet, use a computer than to read an old-fashioned Mk. I book. Collecting some of the lore in this Wiki, making it easy to access, and having it organized is a boon toward the goals of getting more young people interested in Traveller. In summation, the older generation of Traveller fans doesn't need much of any of the articles on the Wiki, we are already dedicated fans. The younger generation needs a project like this very much. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 14:07, 28 April 2015 (EDT)
And one more aside: Rancke mentions 7,000 articles. When I use the toolbox app named "special pages" under the "statistics" option (Wiki data and tools), I see the following: 11,418 content pages. In just over 4 months, I have been able to edit well over 5,000 pages and probably many more pages. Whatever the community decides, we can match up everything and make it all look sharp. It's possible. I am not the only ultra-productive editor and contributor to the community. We can make this happen. I've really enjoyed working with some of the many users here already and I'm very much looking forward to working more with an old grognard and valued member of the community like Rancke. Let's make this happen. Not to be lurkers. Not to argue about OTU, ITU, and all that, but come together to make this site even better. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 14:07, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

I'll add my thoughts here as well. (Since adding it I have made minor edits of "you" to "we" to make clear I was not intending this to be an attack on an individual but was using the word "you" in a more impersonal third person style (which is not always clear).)
I don't have any problem understanding the benefit of subheadings. The point I find odd is the fact that every subheading has the name of the article in front of it when that is obvious from the fact that it is on that page. A set of subheadings that are individually concise are still helpful in subdividing the bulk of an entry (although they can still be a bit much in something that is only going to be a sentence or two long anyway). So using subheadings (with further subdivisions as appropriate) in the fashion:
  • Synopsis
  • Description
  • Meta-History & Background
  • Credits
  • Contents
makes a lot of sense to me. But when this is added to the article GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4, as an example, and then we use:
  • GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4 (Book) Synopsis
  • GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4 (Book) Description
  • GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4 (Book) Meta-History & Background
  • GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4 (Book) Credits
  • GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4 (Book) Contents
we have massively increased the word content in the subtitles with no benefit, and we have reduced the effectiveness of the subheadings as navigation link anchors. About the only useful bit to my mind might be the (Book), which could be added as a single line at the start of the article to indicate the category it falls into if it was felt necessary to do so.
How an individual looks at categorisation of information probably depends on their experience. I have worked for a long time in technical marketing, writing detailed technical data sheets, product performance recommendations and technical papers. In all those cases, short, concise subheadings clarify the divisions in the document without adding unnecessary overhead.
I'm happy to implement whatever is agreed as a method, but given a vote I would go for simplicity as an aid to clarity.
OGuutan (talk) 16:12, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

Your point about my lack of recent contribution to the wiki is well taken, and if after a thorough discussion the current main contributors reach a consensus decision to change the standard format, so be it. I'd be sorry to see it, because I consider your scheme quite unsuitable to something that emulates a Traveller library data collection, but I wouldn't object any further to it. I'd probably just stop contributing altogether, which, considering how much I've seen fit to contribute lately, would probably not be any big loss.
I don't want to pick a fight either, but I do want to put the kibosh on this new format if I can. I have no problem understanding the format. I just think it's inappropriate for the Traveller wiki. I'm not a former military guy, and the original developers of Traveller and the wiki did not use this format. You can break up walls of text quite adequately with traditional headlines without adding those IMO completely superfluous article name repetitions and, again IMO, likewise superfluous and jarring words in parentheses.
It's unfortunate that I didn't notice this new scheme right at the start so that I could have spoken up before you'd used in 5000 instances (very impressive, BTW), but the fact that I didn't isn't going to make me shut up and go away now that I have noticed, though being told by Thomas that this is an official format change will.
One final thing, somewhat unrelated to the rest of the format differences: The distinction between canon and non-canon is quite important, and IMO worth lessening the resemblance to a real library data entry to emphasize. Hence the occasional top division into first a canon section and then a non-canon section. Rancke (talk) 16:37, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

I love you guys :)Ronald B. Kline, Jr. (talk) 16:56, 28 April 2015 (EDT) ALL of my stuff is non canon, or cannon (look out!) as I have often mispelt it. I just make junk up to suit myself. I try to avoid stepping on toes and try to pick fringe items, so no one minds what I write about. I need all the edit help I can get. I freely admit it. I have never seen some one add as much as fast as brother Maksim. I have frequently written some random, non-sensical blurb about some wandering bit of detritus, and wham bang there are thirteen additional sub categories w/ n/a under them. So for the sake of completeness, I have gone back and tried to fill in the missing pieces. Templates are great. Organization is great. I am not skilled in either. It is funny that we think we are emulating a hand computer, that is cute all by itself. I am simply here to amuse myself.

Rancke, I think you leaving would be a real loss. I wouldn't want to see that, large or less large amount of contributions. What you have done is very impressive, and I'd love the chance to work with you. Please don't leave, your creative mind would be a real loss. I'd be happy to part of the team modifying the current schema if it would help.
Your point about it not being Traveller has obvious merit, but Traveller will need to change with the times or the current batch of older fans won't be renewed by younger generations. That would be a tremendous loss. Of course, Traveller started with 1970's ideas about gigantic ENIAC-like computers that took up entire rooms. Times changed.
Your other point about what Traveller or future computers look like is an interesting one. I can tell you that many current databases, use a very similar format to this one. The Dewey Decimal model of library entries is dead. Everything is online and saving a few characters of space in system that handles gigabytes or Terrabytes (...or more) isn't really a prime consideration. It seems wiser to bank on bringing in new blood than preserve the simple "look" of the 1970's. The content is what really matters and you are a master of that, Rancke. Thank you again for all of your cool contributions. Please stay on with the Wiki and add to its richness. Come up with something better. You have the mind to do it. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 17:38, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

I should probably add one more thing: I am more concerned with adding to the richness of the site than I am about exactly how that adding happens. Content beats out format every time. I would rather have a site with Rancke and as many other contributors/authors as possible than not. And optimally, I would rather see him working with the rest of the team to devise something better than leave over what I think is a minor disagreement. I feel that a policy of inclusion is optimal, not exclusion, whether it's a personal choice or not. We all have preferences for game versions, TU's, and what not, but, in the end of ends, we're all sci-fi and Traveller fans. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 17:58, 28 April 2015 (EDT)

I would like to make a specific proposal for the the page layouts. I'm also going to refer to our Manual of Style and the Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Manual of Style. In the absence of a specific formatting requirement in the former page, I've usually assumed the latter is the guide for articles. We are, in theory, sort of like the Wikipedia of the 57th century.
The sections we've been using for the pages are good, but the titles are too long. The sections should not include the page titles. Or, to quote from the Wikipedia manual of style: Headings should not refer redundantly to the subject of the article, or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer. As User:OGuutan points out, the section headers are also used as link anchors. So using the above suggestions I recommend something shorter as a default, and to be made longer with warranted. For example.
  • Synopsis
  • Description
  • History
  • Credits
This is my suggestion for resolving this, and not a decision handed down from on high. I would like to hear if you (anyone) think we be more specific about this, and if so, how.
To get the number of articles you have edited you can look at Special:Contributions page. For example, querying for user: Maksim-Smelchak and I get 2470 individual articles edited since 10-Jan-2015, and probably about 3-4 edits for each article, puts you into the range of 10,000 edits. Which is impressive.
Tjoneslo (talk) 02:29, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

Hi Tjoneslo, sounds fine to me. I am more than willing to go with that option, especially if it will help keep the peace and persuade valued users to stay. Thank you for putting that into words. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 07:03, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

Hi Tjoneslo, how do you get the Special:Contributions page to give you numbers? Mine just gives me a listing and I can't get it to give me a total count. I have to manually count the pages, 500 listings, at a time. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 07:05, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

I cheated. I copy the entries from each page and paste them into a spreadsheet. When I get to the last page, I see how many rows are in the spreadsheet. You can also go to Special:ActiveUsers which gives you a count of edits made in the last 30 days (For you: 5,086). Tjoneslo (talk) 07:15, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

Sometimes, Tjoneslo, I almost feel like I'm getting to know you despite being electronic acquaintances. I ad a feeling that you had a spreadsheet somewhere to track all of this. Now, I know where to go to get the numbers! Makes me chuckle. Please let me know where I can be of the most use in contributing to the blog. I am working on the updated Allegiance Code/alphabetical information today. I finished updating sectors yesterday. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 11:41, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

I also wanted to note that OGuutan is doing an amazing job updating various publications and bibliography articles and deserves all of our praise and encouragement. That's hard and sometimes thankless work. I really appreciate his initiative and hard work. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 11:41, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

Hi Tjoneslo, your suggestion seems fine to me: concise subtitles, appropriate to the subject matter, used to break up and enhance the basic text in an article, avoiding repetition and redundancy. OGuutan (talk) 14:45, 29 April 2015 (EDT)

I likewise agree with Thomas. I will add three small suggestions. Templates are fine, as they provide a skeleton to build our articles on. But the synopsis shouldn't be headlined. The first paragraph(s) of an article is either automatically a synopsis or the article is too short to warrant a synopsis. Instead, have the template put something like: '[Synopsis: Start with a synopsis if the article is long enough to warrant it; substitute it for this bracket.]'. Secondly, empty headlines should be deleted. Thirdly, the credits do not need to be headlined. They always go at the end of the article. Rancke (talk) 11:17, 30 April 2015 (EDT)

It's been almost two months since we had this exchange, which I thought had led to the decision that the templates in question should be simplified in the manner outlined above. And yet the templates still feature all the repetition and redundancy. What gives? I'm reluctant to do change the templates on my own, partly because I think it's something only an admin is entitled to meddle with and partly because I've never mucked about with templates before. But every time one of these overloaded templates are used means one more article that will have to be corrected by hand. So, loath as I am to appear pushy, isn't it about time you fixed them, Thomas?

Or am I completely mistaken here? Was no such decision made? Rancke (talk) 17:47, 16 June 2015 (EDT)

We have come to an decision to follow the Wikipedia manual of style. The Template: World Layout has not been updated because I'm the only one who (apparently) uses it. All the rest of the templates have been updated. The challenge here is there are many articles who don't follow the agreed upon layout and need to be updated, manually. Tjoneslo (talk) 09:05, 19 July 2015 (EDT)

I wasn't aware a decision had been made. The communication broke down somewhere. I would be happy to follow the template. I am the most prolific updater and uploader of worlds. I have watched several different people use several different formats. Ultimately, it would make sense to standardize and switch over to automated formats. Maksim-Smelchak (talk) 09:11, 19 July 2015 (EDT)