Help:Discussion pages

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Need assistance with something on the wiki? Want to leave a message for another wiki editor? Discussion pages are where you can do just that. But first, it's a good idea to learn how to use them properly!

Where to Direct Messages

If you are leaving a message for another person, or responding to another person's message to you, then you need to leave the message on their talk page! Do not respond to someone's comments to you by putting the comments on your own talk page, because the other person will not receive notice that you are responding.

However, if you are discussing a specific article on that page's discussion area, then just click the "watch" button so that page's discussion area is updated on your Special:Watchlist.

Layout

  • Use indenting to keep the threads of the conversation straight: The first contributor is all the way to the left, the next person starts with one colon (:), the next person starts with two colons. Then, when the first contributor responds, they start at the left margin again, and the second and third persons continue to mark themselves with one and two colons respectively. In that way, who is saying what is clear. Other indentation systems are equally acceptable and widely used (such as a threaded tree format, like that often seen in email clients).
  • Separate discussion topics, with new topics at the end: Put each new conversation topic or major thread at the end of the talk page, under a different section header (== Subject ==). This uses section headers like the "Subject line" in email messages. The "Post a comment" feature can be used to do this automatically. Enter a subject/headline in the resulting edit page, and it will become the section heading. This allows section editing of the thread in question. The edit summary automatically includes section heading information, making it much easier to track a particular conversation. The section headers also appear in the talk page's table of contents (once there are several of them), giving a list of conversation topics in chronological order.
  • Proceed descendingly within topics: Within each topic, chronological order should also be preserved: the further down the contribution to talk, the later in time it was made.
  • Use whitespace when making a point by point discussion: While conciseness in a talk page discussions is always desirable, sometimes, when engaged in point by point discussions, it is impossible to be brief. In such cases, use paragraph breaks when you've reached the end of your discussion of one point. This results in a much clearer post, that is also easier to respond to.

Markup

  • Sign your posts: To sign a post, type three tildes (~~~), and they will be replaced with your username after saving, like this: Eloquence. Type four tildes (~~~~), and they will be replaced with your username and time stamp, like this: Eloquence 03:44 Feb 17, 2003 (UTC). (The latter is usually preferred, to make it easy to piece together the chronology of a page.) Comments can be further customized in Special:Preferences, like so: --Maru (talk) Contribs 00:37, 27 October 2005 (UTC). No comments are really anonymous, because anyone can check the history of the page to find out what user or IP address posted any given text. Signing your post is a common courtesy which allows people an easy way to see who is speaking; unsigned posts are confusing.
  • Avoid markup: Don't use a lot of Italic text, Bolded text, or CAPITAL LETTERS. These are considered SHOUTING, and contribute to the view that you are RANTING!!!!!

Other conventions

  • Make links freely: Links to articles are as useful on talk pages as anywhere else, and links to non-existent articles can help get them onto the most wanted pages list.
  • Use UTC when referring to a time, e.g. the time of an edit or page move.
  • When discussing the name of the page, cite the current name: If the page is moved afterwards, the Talk page is usually also moved, so then it would not be clear what you were talking about and people may think e.g. that you are suggesting to change the new name, while you were referring to the old one.
  • Feel free to ignore typographical conventions: Do what you need to to make your points clear. The Manual of Style is for articles.

Headings on talk pages

Please refrain from using headers to personally address people on talk pages. Headers should be used to facilitate discussion by indicating and limiting topics related to the article. For instance, you could make a header whose title describes in a few words one problem you have with the article. This will make it easy for people to address that issue, work towards consensus, and eventually resolve the issue or dispute and improve the article. Thanks and happy edits.

Article talk pages should be used for discussing the articles and how to improve them, not to criticize, pick apart, or vent about the current status of an article. This does not mean one should not use talk pages to propose improvements: Headings on article talk pages should be used to facilitate discussion and article improvement by indicating and limiting topics related to the article in a positive, fair, and NPOV manner.

Write headers whose titles in a few words describe the issue or problem you have with the article in the form of a question, through a broader issue, or as a positive assertion. For example: If your issue with the article "Dinosaur" is that it states that "All dinosaurs walked on two legs." Do not write a heading on the talk page: "This article is completely wrong and stupid," or, "Morons think all dinosaurs walk on two legs," or even "All dinosaurs did not walk on two legs." Rather, attempt to make your headings welcoming to those you disagree with. Try, "Did all dinosaurs walk on two legs?", "Dinosaur locomotion", or, "Brontosauri walked on four legs". This will make it easy for people to address that issue, work towards consensus, and eventually resolve the issue or dispute and improve the article. Thanks.

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