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Bloomingpedia:Policies and Direction

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While Bloomingpedia, like other large Wiki projects such as Wikipedia, is meant to be as democratic a community as possible, there are times when administrative intervention may be necessary. Since Bloomingpedia can't expect to have the size of user community as some of the larger Wiki's, the normal rules of user organization and structure by consensus don't always apply. There may be times when Bloomingpedia's content needs a little nudge in the right direction. We obviously want these sorts of interventions to be as fairly applied as possible. This is the reasoning behind the formation of the Bloomingpedia Council. We expect the council to be less and less involved in the formation of policy as Bloomingpedia evolves. It will likely become a more operational role, though there will still need to be constant re-evaluation of Bloomingpedia policy and wiki direction.

The topics below contain a general outline of the sorts of things that we want to encourage as well as the things we want to discourage. There are some things that are patently not allowed. It is the job of the Bloomingpedia council to review this list periodically for changes in the attitudes of the wiki user community.

Desired Activity

Objective Articles

At it's core, Bloomingpedia is a place to find facts about the town we live in. As such, the insertion of subjective comments and opinions serves to undermine the goals of the wiki. If you have a comment about an article, please list it on the Discussion page for the main article. Objective means that you should not use promotional or emotional wording such as "best", "greatest", or "worst". Anything promotional should be avoided. You are already promoting the subject by creating an article about it. Let the reader decide for themselves. Articles in need of objectivity are listed on the Category:Objectivity-needed articles page.

Local Content

Remember that this is a wiki about Bloomington, Indiana. Keep your articles relevant to the city and surrounding area. If the article you want to create is of interest outside of Bloomington and is documented on other websites (for example, Wikipedia) create a Bloomingpedia article and create a more local view of that article. Link to the larger article at the bottom in an "External Articles" section. For example, Hurricane Katrina is considered related to New Orleans and the gulf coast, but an article on Bloomingpedia about Hurricane Katrina's affect on Bloomington is OK.

The Bloomingpedia Council has decided that local includes an area around Bloomington in a radius up to 30 miles away from the Monroe County Courthouse. Although exceptions will be made where it makes sense. Anything existing within that area will most likely not be questioned for its locality to Bloomington. Anything outside that area may be if it has too weak of a relationship to Bloomington. For instance, having an article for Indianapolis probably isn't a good idea just because its close to Bloomington, however an article talking about the shortest routes to get to Indianapolis from Bloomington is fine.

The council feels that Bloomingpedia should only serve Bloomington so that other communities around Bloomington have the oppurtunity to create their own City Wikis.

If you have material to contribute that falls outside the scope of Bloominpedia, consider adding it to the Indiana Wiki.


No need for Bloomington in titles

Unless the name of a subject has Bloomington in a title, such as Bloomington Bagel Company, it is not necessary to put Bloomington in the title of articles. For example, don't call an article Bloomington Businesses, just call it Businesses. Bloomington is implied. The only time you will need to put the name of a subject locality of the article is when its not Bloomington, like Ellettsville Businesses.


Neutral Point of View (NPOV)

Articles need to be written from a neutral point of view. Avoid using pronouns such as "I", "we" and "our". If you create an article that uses the first person, expect to see a future edit from someone with an explanation of "NPOV". Think of an article like you would a real encyclopedia article.

It is OK to create an article about you or related to you using a third person point of view. It might seem silly to do so, but in many cases with this depth of local content, it is necessary so that the content can be added. Articles in need of NPOV attention can be found listed on the Category:NPOV-needed articles page.

Subdivision of Articles

Let's face it. Some people are really good at dividing their thoughts up into easily digested segments for reading. And some people think so fast that they just want to get it all typed out before they forget it. We don't want to discourage either person from posting, but we do want the end result to be an article that has clearly defined sections and some level of consistent formatting. If you're a stream-of-conscious writer, consider coming back to your article later to clean it up. At the very least, categorize the article as "Needs to be Wiki-fied" and hopefully someone else will come back to make your text easier to read. You can do so by adding the following text to the article:

[[Category:Needs to be wikified]]


Frequent Review of Article

Don't just throw up an article and walk away from it! Keep it as up to date as possible after it's up on the page. Remember that Bloomington is a constantly evolving place that will require effort to keep the the article base up to date. There are a number of ways to keep an eye on Bloomingpedia articles. You can subscribe to the rss feed of the page changes, or you can periodically review the recent changes page that tracks all changes to the article base. You can also choose to watch a specific article by clicking on the "watch" tab up at the top of each article page.


Consistent Article Format and Use of Templates

This is a bit tricky. Since the wiki system is completely unstructured, it's very difficult to keep a level of consistency between articles. Don't be afraid to get it wrong the first few times! Our advice is to spend a bit of time browsing articles that are similar to what you want to write about to see if an organizational pattern has emerged. If one hasn't, invent one and discuss it on the talk page for your new article!

The wiki does support the creation of templates, but there's no enforcement of their usage. If you think you'll be a frequent Bloomingpedia contributor, take some time to browse the available templates. If you don't see a template where one would be useful, make one up! A few words of caution about templates:

  • A change to a template can affect hundreds of pages. Please be careful.
  • A change to a template could mean revisiting hundreds of pages to insert or change content already there.
  • A template can have Categories, which automatically add the articles with that template to the Category. But be careful. If you add or change a category for an already existing template that is being used by existing articles, those articles won't be placed into the category until someone loads them. That means, they won't show up in the Category list until all the articles are loaded by someone!


Anecdotes and Opinion

Does an objective main article mean that you can't share your thoughts, opinions, and personal stories? No! If framed correctly, Bloomingpedia users can stick these sorts of entries in the ""discussion" page. Eventually, we hope to have a better system for adding this sort of information so that it's distinct from the articles, but the Wikimedia system wasn't really designed for it.


Vanity Articles

While the main Wiki's that server larger user communities discourage the creation of personal information pages, Bloomingpedia encourages it for Bloomington residents (past and present). Feel free to tell us about yourself. Where you went to school. How long you've been in Bloomington. Where you work. What your favorite restuarant is. Anything is fair game. Keep in mind that even your vanity page is peer-reviewed, so you need to keep an eye on your page's history to make sure you're the only one editing it! Also, as silly as it may feel, keep the article in a NPOV so that the reader doesn't feel like they have stumbled upon your personal website.

Put pages for yourself in an article called by your full name. The User:Username sectional pages are more for talking about the wiki itself and your relation to it. For example, if your name is John Smith and you have a username on Bloomingpedia called jsmith, then your personal history and information about your life should be on a page called John Smith while anything you'd like to say about what you do on Bloomingpedia can go on your User:jsmith page.

Speaking of a name like John Smith, as Bloomingpedia grows, there will no doubt be multiple people who have the same name. Wikipedia handles this name collision with disambiguation pages. On Bloomingpedia, this will probably be handled similarly, by moving people's pages to names with something about what they do in the title. So if there is a John Smith who is on the city council and another John Smith who is was a bank clerk for 30 years and is less well known, then John Smith the councilman would have the main John Smith page and the bank clerk would be on a page named John Smith (Bank clerk). Another way this could be handled is by putting the year of their birth the article title, like John Smith (1947).

If you have a better idea for how to handle this issue, please let us know by placing your comment on the Talk:Bloomingpedia_Policies_and_Direction Talk Page for this article.


Use of Categories

Categories help people in a number of ways. It makes it easier to find similar articles for consistent editing. People can select random articles from each category (for example, "Find me a random Italian Restaurant for dinner tonight!"). It also helps editors go back to previous articles to make them all look alike. We are in the process of writing an extension for the mediawiki software that will act like the Random Article link, but instead chooses a random article from a set category. Then we can have another link on the side menu called "Random Restaurants" that you can use to quickly decide where to eat. This emphasizes why it is important to put articles into categories, especially restaurants.


Division of Responsibilities

Are you someone who knows a lot about a particular subject, but aren't the world's greatest speller? Are you someone who likes to organize other people's thoughts? Or maybe your someone who knows a little about a lot of things and can't create complete articles. Bloomingpedia has a job for you! As people write articles, they should take advantage of the available templates to put consistent text at the top of each page that needs further work by someone else. If you have a few minutes here and there, you might just randomly pick a page in an editing category of your choice and expand upon it!


Pictures and Other Metadata

Articles are much better if they have images to accompany them. Please read the article on taking pictures for Bloomingpedia for more information. In addition to photographs, try to identify other useful auxiliary files that would be of interest. For example, if you write an article on a local hiking trail and you have a GPS device, you might think of posting a GPS track log for others to use or an overhead map with an outline of the trail. Original content is highly encouraged.


Discouraged Activity

Personal Attacks

Personal attacks are, at their core, an opinion. As such, they don't belong in the main article. Remember that any wiki user can come along and remove your remarks, so it's not an effective tactic anyway. If you want to have flame wars, do it on another turf. That being said, the Bloomingpedia Council won't censor article talk pages since they should always be viewed as a dumping ground for the unconfirmed and non-fact-based thought.


Rumors and Conjecture

Try to stick to confirmed information that can be backed up. In small amounts, rumors and conjecture are OK, but they need to be flagged as such in the article. If you post something that you're unsure of, add one of the editing Templates that categorizes the article as unconfirmed. If you can't confirm the information yourself, hopefully someone else will come along and confirm it. If you feel really unsure about the information, or have a question about it, consider first posting it on the articles "talk" page. Bloomingpedia users that subscribe to the RSS feeds will see your question and might be able to respond.


Plagiarism

Please try to keep your information as original as possible. Grabbing information from an organization's website is OK as long as you format it from a neutral point of view (NPOV) and make an attempt to add additional information from other sources. Cite your sources as much as possible using the available source templates. Do not copy information verbatim down from reference sources. Just keep in mind the same principles you were held to in middle school and you should be OK.


Vandalism

Vandalism can take many forms but is usually a deliberate attempt to ruin the content of an article, move it to an improper name or add junk that doesn't belong. Please don't even bother doing this. Often times when people first learn about Wiki they like to try editing a page just to see if it "works". If you want to test your ability to edit, you can do so on the Sandbox page. It is almost pointless to vandalise a wiki because it is trivial to undo those changes. So there is really no challenge for anyone wanting to get a thrill from it.

On the flip side, we are open to people putting up articles about vandalism, such as graffiti that happens in Bloomington. A good example of this is the Sheldon Graffiti article.


Prohibited Activity

Nothing much is prohibited, per se. Since Bloomingpedia is a peer-reviewed site, everything you contribute is subject to the review of your fellow Bloomington residents. The Bloomingpedia council members may participate in the peer review process. In extreme situations, the Bloomingpedia council will delete or alter content that is patently illegal. Examples include illegally obtained images or content, child pornography, or extremely offensive or disturbing images. Keep in mind that the review process is a constantly evolving effort that is subject to the consensus of the larger Bloomingpedia community.


Wiki Spam

Hopefully, we don't have to lecture anyone from Bloomington about this. Wiki spam is almost always of a distinctly different nature from the content of any other article on a wiki. It is usually created by an automated program that scours the internet for wikis and adds several visible or invisble links to websites promoting the popular marketing items of the day (currently, prescription drugs, rolex watches, etc). It is almost always obvious that it is spam once it is added to an article. Our policy is to immediately rollback the article to a previous good revision or delete it if there are none and ban the user that created it for a period of 1 year. We may also block the user's IP address or their entire IP address group from accessing the website entirely. If you feel that for some reason you have been mistakenly banned for spamming this wiki, you should let us know immediately by sending an email to "comments (dash) questions (at) bloomingpedia (dot) org", making the following replacements: (dash) = "-", (at) = "@", (dot) = "."