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Manual of style/Top tips

From Retro CDN

Help: Contents

The following is a set of tips that, if taken into account, generally lead to better wiki articles:

Avoid walls of text

Pick up a novel and chances are the paragraphs will be "stuck together", indicated only by indentations on one side. This is a long-established formatting tradition held by world of print - in addition to reading it in books, you will see it in newspapers and magazines and this style of formatting is taught in school.

On the internet, however, we prefer to separate paragraphs by two lines. This is partly due to legacy reasons - older typewriters and computers may have had trouble indenting text, but it also assists readability - paragraphs are more clearly defined, and so are easier to move around and edit. It is rare on the Retro wikis to see a paragraph consist of more than four sentences - it is generally better to start a new paragraph if there is a natural break in the text's flow. Like this one.

A "wall of text" is an internet phenomeon caused by people who do not heed this advice, or indeed do not use paragraphs at all.

Example: Do not do this:

Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) is the first game in the long-running series by video game publisher and former console maker Sega. First released in the United States and Europe on June 23rd, 1991, it was the premier outing for the character of Sonic the Hedgehog and the group behind his creation, Sonic Team. Though the game only received marginal success in its home country, almost overnight Sonic became a sensation in the West, solidifying Sega's place in Europe and turning the company into a household name in the United States. For the first time, a company was able to directly compete with console and gamemaker Nintendo, which had dominated the second half of the 1980s. Though Nintendo still reigned supreme in Japan, the highly-contested 16-bit war in the West was a marvel to behold, the big two being neck and neck through almost the entirety of the third generation of console gaming. The game propelled the creators into the realm of video game superstardom, programmer Yuji Naka for a time becoming the face of Sega much as Shigeru Miyamoto became the face of Nintendo after the success of Super Mario Bros. The franchise took off, with a version of the game being released on the Sega Master System and a series of sequels across Sega's various consoles over the years. It not only became the definitive title for the system and replaced Altered Beast as the pack-in title for the West, but would go on to be ported to no less than twenty platforms after its initial release.

Separate the text into paragraphs, so it looks like this:

Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) is the first game in the long-running series by video game publisher and former console maker Sega. First released in the United States and Europe on June 23rd, 1991, it was the premier outing for the character of Sonic the Hedgehog and the group behind his creation, Sonic Team. Though the game only received marginal success in its home country, almost overnight Sonic became a sensation in the West, solidifying Sega's place in Europe and turning the company into a household name in the United States.
For the first time, a company was able to directly compete with console and gamemaker Nintendo, which had dominated the second half of the 1980s. Though Nintendo still reigned supreme in Japan, the highly-contested 16-bit war in the West was a marvel to behold, the big two being neck and neck through almost the entirety of the third generation of console gaming.
The game propelled the creators into the realm of video game superstardom, programmer Yuji Naka for a time becoming the face of Sega much as Shigeru Miyamoto became the face of Nintendo after the success of Super Mario Bros. The franchise took off, with a version of the game being released on the Sega Master System and a series of sequels across Sega's various consoles over the years. It not only became the definitive title for the system and replaced Altered Beast as the pack-in title for the West, but would go on to be ported to no less than twenty platforms after its initial release.

Red links are good

Don't be afraid of red links, caused by linking to nonexistent internal pages. Here are three pages that will never exist on Retro CDN: crazy geese, wacky swans, goofy ducks - the red links signify that articles have been requested, and so will appear in Special:WantedPages (although please, don't actually make these pages).

If you feel a page should exist but doesn't, link to it anyway - one day it might actually be created. Likewise if you feel a redirect should exist (e.g. "goofy ducks" -> "ducks", because all ducks are goofy), leave it as a red link and make the redirect.

The only reason you should avoid making links is if the pages are outside the scope of the wiki. Retro CDN is not a wiki about birds, so in normal circumstances, the above three red links would be removed.

We would ask, however, that if you refer to a template that doesn't exist, you actually make the template - we can't always guess what you're wanting.

Talk about things

If you're unsure, use talk pages - they're there for users to ask and answer questions. It may be that your question has been asked and answered before, or someone might be able to implement your grand plans in a better way. 99% of edits tend to be positive, but for that extra 1%, don't be afraid to consult others.

This is particularly important if you're doing the wrong thing, and a sysop has attempted to contact you through your user talk page. The software will alert you to a message - do read it, or you're going to have a bad time.

It is expected that you read these help pages first. Chances are if you're reading this sentence, you already know that, but if you're using talk pages to learn how to use a wiki (rather than to discuss the page in question), chances are you'll be sent back here.

Write in past tense

With an enormous, active userbase, Wikipedia is very good at keeping up to date, so when describing present or future events, it can afford to use present or future tense. Once an event occurs, it is reasonable to expect that someone will update the page within 24 hours.

For example, if a page, written in January 1991 says:

Sonic the Hedgehog will be released for the Sega Mega Drive this June.

There is a high chance that by July, the page will read;

Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the Sega Mega Drive in June 1991.

The person who makes this change is either very keen, or is an automated script (a bot) that addresses these sorts of issues as soon as they occur. Much of Wikipedia is in fact maintained by bots, not humans, which are very good at clearing up minor inconsistencies such as these.

The Retro wikis have no bots. They are maintained almost entirely by real users, and as such, if the above case occurred on one of our wikis, there is no guarantee the page would be updated after June. Relying on far fewer volunteers than Wikipedia means we are slower at responding to current events - this required change might not occur for months or even years if nobody remembers to change it.

Thankfully this is not an issue if you always write in past tense. Writing in past tense means the page does not need to be updated straight after the event occurs to be considered up-to-date. While the page might read strangely prior to the event, it will always read correctly after the event, which should be a significantly longer period of time.

For example, in this case, it was only known that Sonic the Hedgehog would be released in June 1991 for less than six months prior to it happening. Conversely, many decades have passed since June 1991 - the past tense version has been appropriate for far longer than its future tense counterpart.

You might have to invent things

Not facts, that is - we're talking about methods of doing things on the Retro wikis. The correct templates and categories may not exist, and the current set of active users might not have the expertise or drive to assist in certain subjects. You might have to invent new ways of organising and displaying information, and as long as it's sensible and hasn't been done before, you're likely to get approval.

As an example, both Sonic and Sega Retro have ever-growing lists concerning toys and merchandise. The volume of potential content is high, the interest in that content is comparatively low - if you have any interest in Sonic or Sega toys, you might find yourself pioneering new methods of documenting them. You could even be a world leader!

You don't need special priveledges to take risks, but again, you might want to use the apporpriate talk pages so we can understand what you're actually trying to do.