Religions Wiki:Editing guidelines

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Here are some DOs and DON'Ts to get you started on editing articles here on Religions Wiki. Note that you can try out editing experiments in our Sandbox before committing to editing articles, if you wish. (You'll have to create an account before you can edit any pages.)

General guidelines[edit]

  • DO use Wikipedia as the gold standard.
    They've been at this a long time. When in doubt about style, check out how they do it and, if necessary, adapt it to this wiki.
  • DON'T plagiarize Wikipedia... unless you have to.
    We recognize that Wikipedia articles are sometimes an excellent source for information about certain topics, but our copyright policy is slightly different from theirs, so don't just cut-and-paste an entire article to this wiki (even with attribution, this is just not good editing style). Try to reword, summarize, edit, and generally adapt the information to meet our goals here at Religions Wiki.
  • DO check out other sources of information.
    See our Interwiki map for some particularly useful sites.
  • DO read our statement on the neutral point of view.
    Our version is not the same as Wikipedia's, but we do have standards.
  • DON'T use times relative to the present; DO use absolute times.
    Statements like "this book was published last year" or "this movement has grown over the past decade" grow increasingly inaccurate with time. Use absolute times instead: "this book was published in 2003" and "this movement has grown from the mid-1990s onward".

Editing tips[edit]

  • DON'T use HTML code unless it's absolutely necessary.
    Many HTML constructs have wiki equivalents. If all you want to do is write italic or bold text, for example, the wiki markup looks like this:
    • ''italic''italic (double-apostrophes in front and behind)
    • '''bold'''bold (triple)
    • '''''bold italic'''''bold italic (5 apostrophes — use sparingly)
  • DO link to other articles and external sources.
    Link to another article here at Religions Wiki by using "double-brackets" wiki markup:
    Link to external websites by using "single-brackets":
    For other examples of wiki markup, including lists and tables, see WikimediaMeta:Help:Wikitext examples.
  • DO use references to support your claims.
    • Embed references in the body of the text: John Smith converted to Protestantism at age 20.<ref></ref>
    • At the end of the page, include a ==References== section containing the text <references/>.
    • Put the References section after the See also section, but before the External links section.
  • DON'T copy articles from other sites.
    If you copy someone's text without crediting them, that's plagiarism. Even if you do give credit, don't copy articles wholesale.
    If an article makes a good point, you can link to it; there's no reason to copy it here.
    There is a big difference between things like magazine articles or blog posts, and wiki pages: the former are intended to stand on their own, and remain unchanged. Wiki pages are expected to link to related pages, and to be edited by many authors over time.
  • DO mark minor edits.
    Remember to check the "minor edit" box before you submit a typo fix or other small change. The rule of thumb is that if you don't change any actual information in the article, or the way it's organized, then it's a minor edit. Most changes to spelling and punctuation would be minor. Changing any fact/assertion in the article, even a small one, is not minor.
    • "Atheist commedien Pen Jilette..." → "Atheist comedian Penn Jillette..." — minor
    • "Theist comedian Penn Jillette..." → "Atheist comedian Penn Jillette..." — not minor
  • DO use the special editing "preview" features.
    Sometimes the first attempt to change an article doesn't come out the way you expected. To avoid having to edit a page multiple times, use the "Show preview" button before committing to your changes (by choosing "Save page"). The "Show changes" button is helpful for creating informative edit summaries (after a lot of editing, it's easy to forget what changes you've actually made).


  • DO [[link]] the first occurrence of each significant word or phrase in an article (see how above).
    "Significant" means something that should have an article here at this wiki, whether it does or not. (See also the article naming conventions below.)
  • DON'T link subsequent occurrences, unless not doing so would significantly inconvenience the reader.
    A second, or even third, link may be warranted if the they are far apart in a long article and the later instance(s) would benefit from linking even more than the previous one(s). In other words, don't make people go searching in the article for the "missing link" (no pun intended) when they come across a term they'll probably want more information about. But don't overdo the linking.
  • DO prefer internal links to external (see the distinction above).
    Except for special cases, like Bible verses (for which a special template exists) or topics that should not have articles here (because they are too off-topic), links in articles should be to other articles here at Religions Wiki whenever possible. If the article doesn't exist yet, it's sometimes a judgment call: readers would probably prefer an external link to none at all, yet editors would prefer to see the "redlink" so they know an article on the topic is lacking.
  • DO prefer singular page names to plural, when appropriate.
    That is, when linking a plural word like "atheists" in article text, link only the "atheist" part, leaving the "s" outside of the double-brackets:
    There are exceptions, of course, such as when the plural form is the most common form for the intended meaning (for example, "apologetics" or "statistics"). When the plural of a word formed in a way other than adding an "s" or "es" on the end, a redirect might be called for (see next item).
  • DO create redirection pages, as needed.
    If you link a term and notice (when previewing your edits) that no article exists with that title, you might want to try to find a similarly-titled article that would serve well as the target for the link. If the second article will always (or almost always) be a relevant target for the word or phrase you're linking, then you'll want to create a redirect to it by following your "redlink" and entering a directive of the form:
    • #REDIRECT [[target term]]
    Replace target term by the title of the existing article; make sure the "#" is the very first character of the page content. Of course, only do this if the original word or phrase you're trying to link isn't itself the most relevant article title for its topic.
    As a more specific example:
    • if this is a "redlink" → [[apologist]]
    • create a page there with this content → #REDIRECT [[Apologetics]]
    Of course, in this case, the redirect already exists. Note that you might have to change grammatical categories to find a relevant article (usually nouns are used for article titles more than verbs or adjectives). If you can't find a relevant article by "guessing" different links, you can search the wiki.
  • DON'T create "double redirects".
    These are redirect pages that point to other redirect pages. The MediaWiki software will not follow multiple (i.e., chained) redirects. Always check the redirect you just created to make sure it points to an actual article.
  • DON'T create misleading links.
    It's occasionally okay to use this format:
    Note that this link goes to the "Evidence" article, so the displayed text differs from the link. In general, you should be sparing with this technique. If the words that you want to link are a subset of the words in the text, then you can reduce the link like this:
    • standards of [[evidence]]
    If the linked text is actually a synonym for the article title being linked to, consider setting up a redirect page (see previous two items) to the target article. If a redirection page doesn't make sense, maybe you don't really need to be making a link to the article you had in mind after all; or maybe you can figure out a way to display the actual title elsewhere in your article, and make a regular link out of it. Remember, you usually only need to link a term once in each article.

Creating new articles[edit]

  • DO start new articles by linking from other articles.
    Although there are other ways to do it, creating an article by linking (see how above) a word or phrase in an existing aricle is the best way to avoid "orphaned" articles (those not linked to from any other page on the wiki).
  • DO prefer "sentence style" capitalization.
    For multiple-word article titles, capitalize only words that would need it if the phrase were used in an ordinary sentence. The purpose of this guideline is, of course, to facilitate linking in running text. For example:
    If necessary, you can always redirect (see previous section) pages with different capitalization to a canonical version.
  • DO use "sentence style" capitalization on section headers, too.
    That is, use a header like "Content guidelines", not "Content Guidelines".
  • DO remember to add a category to new articles.
    This is accomplished by adding a special link of the form:
    • [[Category:Category name]]
    to the bottom of the article (although technically it doesn't matter where it appears in the wikitext). Most articles have a category if you think hard enough, and maybe several (multiple categories each require their own separate "Category:" link). You can check the alphabetical list of categories to see if one is relevant, or just try a few general ones (e.g., Category:Atheism, Category:People, Category:Arguments — notice how category names are usually plural, in contrast with article titles) and navigate the category hierarchy down from there to the most specific, relevant category you can find. See also Project:Categorization.
  • DO create new categories if they don't already exist.
    If no existing category seems to fit for an article, create a new one by simply using it in an article (see previous item). The "redlink" will indicate that the category is missing until you actually create the category page itself by following the link and adding some text. Most categories don't really require any explanation (if they do, consider making the category name more self-explanatory), but every category should be a member of another, parent category. (The only exception to this is the top-most, "root" category. Please don't make it a subcategory of itself.) Thus, all you need for most category pages is a "Category:" link to an appropriate parent category.
  • DON'T create "stub" articles just because you don't like seeing a "redlink".
    The red text serves as a helpful flag to let people know that an article is lacking. It is acceptable to create a stub article if you have one piece of genuinely useful information, such as an external link (Wikipedia is especially useful in this regard) or a well-written summary. It is not a good idea to create a three word phrase and call that a stub article.
  • DON'T duplicate text on multiple pages if you can help it.
    When the same information is found in two separate places on the wiki, it is often a real pain to keep them in sync. Therefore, please take some time to figure out which article is the best place to put your information and then, if necessary, link to that article from any other relevant articles. For example, the article on omnipotence used to include a lengthy discussion of the omnipotence paradox. Now, it merely mentions the paradox and links to the other article.

Types of pages[edit]

  • In general, it is important to keep pages relatively short and avoid unnecessary bloat. Remember that the primary purpose of Religions Wiki is to provide concise counter-apologetic information for people trying to learn about atheist arguments.
  • Pages about people should provide an explanation of how they are relevant to theism or atheism. They should usually not include a lengthy biography; a link to Wikipedia should suffice.
    • Rather than providing a lengthy critique of the person's body of work, please create individual subpages dealing with each book, movie, or pamphlet.
    • Rather than going into a detailed response to a person's "common arguments," please identify the argument and link it to the relevant page where it can be discussed in depth.
    • Avoid the use of unprovable libel against the person. Source your claims whenever possible. "Trash talking" is not an acceptable use of this wiki.
  • Pages about arguments should fully and fairly describe an argument and typical counter-arguments, avoiding the use of straw men and sarcasm.
    An argument page should be unique. Please do a search to make sure that you are not duplicating information that already exists on other argument pages.
    • If you are creating the same argument with a different name, create a redirect instead of a new page.
    • If there is a related but different form of the argument, make sure that the pages link each other appropriately. For example, the Cosmological argument page notes that Kalam is a common special case, and Kalam notes that it is a subcategory of cosmological arguments.
  • Pages about particular works (such as books, movies, or sermons) may be argumentative and use a "statement/response" format. However, as with argument-based pages, avoid duplicating material on other pages.
    For instance, DO NOT respond to a chapter on Pascal's Wager by repeating arguments against Pascal's Wager. Link to the appropriate page and then leave it at that, unless there is something unusual about the usage. If the argument pages you are linking don't do a good enough job rebutting the claim, fix them.

This page[edit]

  • DO feel free to edit this page.
    This is a community effort and a learning process for everyone. Please change or add to any guidelines if you think we've missed something important. If you'd rather post your suggestions to the "talk" page, you can do that instead. The talk page is for discussion about how to make this page (and, by extension, the whole wiki) better.