OGF:Making a good wiki article
Like a good map, a good wiki article is made up of many different components. These components come together to communicate a message in a way that is easily understood by different people, is engaging, and is informative. It can take a lot of work to create a good article and most articles go through many revisions before reaching this stage. Since the mapping of most countries in OGF is ongoing, it will also be a long time before many articles are finally complete.
|Warning: Focus on quality, not quantity. You can't make good articles if you're trying to write lots and lots of them. The main role of the wiki is to help "bring your mapping to life" so that you can share your vision with everyone else. So there's no need to write articles about things that haven't been significantly mapped. And remember, it's better to have one high quality article that powerfully expresses your vision in a rich and engaging way, than a million articles that don't. Be aware of Overwikification.|
OGF wiki vs real Wikipedia: similarities and differences
Because OGF is in essence creative rather than factual, there are a few differences between ‘our’ wiki and the real one. In fact, we don’t actually know (yet) what this Wikipedia is, where it came from etc. Do the 5 pillars of wikipedia stand? We can only assume they do. Nevertheless, there are many similarities between a ‘good OGF article’ and a good Wikipedia article. We may not have to worry so much about issues of bias and referencing, but we do need to fit the article into the rest of the OGF wiki, and we can at least give the appearance that the article is objective. Adding in a ‘bias box’ like this:
or references can also be a way to indicate that there are other people who have debated its content or have contributed knowledge to the article. Of course, all these people can be fictional.
Articles that differ from these principles can still be an interesting read, but they don’t always fit into the story of what the OGF wiki is; in that sense, although interesting, they’re not ‘realistic’ wiki articles.
The best real world Wikipedia articles are ‘featured articles’. We have a slightly different way of featuring articles through the Main Page Featured Articles. We have write a few of these now, but if every user aimed to write at least one article to this standard, we’d end up with a much higher proportion of ‘good articles’ than the real Wikipedia, where only around one in a thousand articles is a ‘featured article’.
Features of ‘good articles’
The main features of good Wikipedia articles could be summarised as ‘communicating information in a way that is clear, interesting and un-biased’. That means that they should:
- be well written – if in English they should use plain English
- be structured – they should have a section followed by hierarchical section headings. This gives consistency both within and between articles
- use media – usage of free-use photographs, maps, graphics and tables all add interest and enhance an article’s ability to communicate its points. See OGF:Uploading Images
- be the right length – they should focus on the main topic, using links to other pages and summary style to add depth and detail where necessary. As said, there is no need to write so long to address one point.
Wikipedia has a 'house style’, a style of writing that whose aim is to maintain clarity and cohesion between different articles. This, probably, also exists in the OGF wiki. But it is up to individual users whether they stick to it or not. It is likely to develop further over time.
OGF is a fictional world. Each article in the OGF wiki fits into the story of this world in one way or another. Whether the article you’re writing refers to a place in a country you’re mapping, to a wider area or to a specific person or incident, it forms part of this larger narrative. Even a place like Ūdzđąnąrąt which is largely cut off from the rest of the world has links to other people and places elsewhere. If you can link into other articles, this embeds your article more deeply in this world and adds further interest and detail to the world itself. Refer to articles about wider geographic areas, world organisations or movements and link to these wherever possible. Remember: if writing about someone else's country you always need to check with the country's owner first (Be respectful). But no good wiki pages are orphan pages.
Whatever the article you’re writing, try to make it tell its own story. As in any good story, there are clear, logical reasons for why each section comes where it does. Most articles about countries and cities are set out in a way which refers first to ‘the bigger picture’: for example, location, geography, and then focuses on small but crucial points, differences or interesting facts. Many articles also work chronologically, with the most recent history coming near the end of the article.
Point of view
Most OGF wiki articles should be written from an "in-world" point of view. So for example, an article about a country shouldn't be describing your mapping process or inviting others to collaborate — these things should go on the article's talk page or on your user page instead. If you wouldn't say it about a real country (e.g. "Germany is planned to have a population of 100 million once a few more cities are built," or "Canada is mostly empty for now but progress is being made") then you probably shouldn't say it in your country's wiki article either. Articles that aren't written from an "in-world" point of view (such as this one) should generally have the "OGF:" prefix in the title.
Linking to the map
Any wiki article about a place should normally include a link to its location on the map.
In addition, mini-maps within an article are one way you can show that what you're writing about has a wider existence. Multi-maps or simple interactive maps are fairly easy to make; historical maps or manuscripts, if you can make them, are another way to get some more depth into an article.
The OGF world is, of course, being created on both the wiki and on the OGF map. So wherever possible, it's a good thing to link from the wiki to the map; that way readers can see that what you’re writing about also has a real presence. It is a very powerful way to show that something you’re writing about has an existence outside of the words or pictures the article is showing. Some of the best articles about places - like Khaiwoon, a small country at the south of Gobrassanya - refer back to places on the map many, many times.
The OGF wiki is, generally, written in English. Be aware that an article written in bad English detracts both from the story you’re trying to tell and from the rest of the wiki; if the article is hard to understand, readers are likely to be put off from reading any more about your country and probably won’t look at your maps either, even though they may be of the highest quality. But speakers of other languages need not despair. There are plenty of willing contributors who will comment and correct written English, and you may even get additional feedback on your articles which the native speakers will lack. Just post a diary entry or contact a neighbouring native English speaker.
Finally, it is always a good thing to seek feedback; in practice, this is how the real wikipedia works. In OGF, feedback may take a long time to filter through, but persevere with an interesting article and one day someone will comment on it or, less obviously, link to it from another article. Being open to this is a great way to set your creations more deeply within OGF. Finally, enjoy your writing and be appreciative of other users' efforts.