Content is where things get a little tricky and difficult to explain in very simple terms. However, this is the "Simple Tutorial", so let's give it a shot... For a more in-depth discussion on writing quality articles, see the article How to write an article
Monstropedia is an encyclopedia—it is not a dictionary, soapbox, journal, discussion forum, site mirror, or link repository (see more on what Monstropedia is not). It might be useful to think of a Monstropedia article as a short (but well-written) high school research paper. As such, an excellent Monstropedia article should:
- be written in the third person, without being dramatic, poetic, or mysterious
- reflect knowledge from expert sources, not personal opinion or subjective experience
- be clear and concise while covering all relevant aspects
- cite its sources
- be written for the reader who is not familiar with the topic or its related jargon
- present information without attempting to persuade or advocate
When writing or editing an article, it should embody the Primary Editorial Principles:
- Articles should promote clarity, accuracy, and the will to inform without distortion or fabrication.
- Articles should draw from expert sources or common knowledge.
It would be a good idea to go over Monstropedia's Editorial Policy when you have a chance. An important note: The perfect article does not exist. The pathway towards that ideal is travelled by multiple editors adding what information they can and collaborating on things like content, formatting, and grammar. It is far more valuable to add lots of imperfect material than to have a trickle of "perfect" contributions.
You may wish to read this longer article about writing styles here.
Basic article structure
Although every topic is different, and some articles will have unique information structures, most will follow this general pattern:
- Brief intro—a lead section which is brief but sufficient to define and summarize the topic
- Detailed sections—covering the major aspects of the topic (be sure to use headers!)
- See also—List of links to other relevant Monstropedia articles
- External links—to relevant sites of interest
- References—citing sources used
- Categories—add any that fit
It is important that you cite your sources if you draw from a book, journal, or website. If you write something like "John Doe believed that the vampires were yellow", you should tell us where he said that. Also, if you write something that is a statement or belief of a group or person, be sure you attribute that statement or belief to them. This is not necessary for beliefs that are considered very common knowledge. It's your call, but be thoughtful about it.
There are two ways to cite sources in the body on an article:
- After a quote or paraphrase eg. Diana was also worshipped "as a goddess of nature" (Frazer, 1993, p.141).
- Before a quote or paraphrase eg Frazer (1993, p.141) writes that Diana was also worshipped "as a goddess of nature."
If a page is taken from another GNU-licensed site, like Wikipedia, it should be referenced as such: Adapted from: Wikipedia. (2005). Retrieved on July 1, 2005. Citing sources provide references that help the reader to check the veracity of the article and to find more information. If you consult an external source while writing an article, citing it is basic intellectual honesty. More than that, you should actively search for authoritative references to cite. If you are writing from your own knowledge, then you should know enough to identify good references that the reader can consult on the subject. The main point is to help the reader—cite whatever you think will be most helpful. This applies when writing about opinions, as well—beware the temptation to write weasel phrases like, "Some people say..." Who said it, and where and when?
You don't have to write a complete article
Don't wait to contribute until you've written an entire article. It is completely acceptable, and even expected, that editors will add materials in a piecemeal fashion. If there is only one thing you know about a topic, then write about that one thing.
- The Basics
- More Formatting
- Quick Mark-up Guide
- How to write an article
- Content sources