CassWiki:Contributing

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For people familiar with one or more of the kinds of materials covered on this wiki, there's many things that most people would be able to help with. Here are some suggestions for contributing.

Introductory pages

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Contributing · Guidelines

Suggesting and discussing

If you think of a potential improvement, feel free to bring it up on the forum. Maybe it's an idea for the content, the project itself, or even the way the wiki works. And if others have ideas to discuss, your input could also be valuable.

You can discuss things to do yourself, or for others to consider, or to collaborate on. From the appearance or style of content, the content itself or the way it is organized, the wiki functionality, how we work on things, etc., it could be anything. The only way to find out if it's a useful idea is to explore it – and if nothing comes of it, no harm done!

Participating as an editor

To join this project as an editor, you'll need to be a member of the Cassiopaea Forum. You don't need to be exceptionally knowledgeable, and you don't need to work on everything. This project is also open to people of varying proficiency in the English language. Like on other wikis, we build upon the work of one another.

As contributions are made, others can use them as a basis for their own contributions. We can discuss and revise, both before and after a contribution is first made public. And as can be seen further below, there are many ways of contributing, varying greatly in terms of the knowledge and skills required.

Finally, we have some basic guidelines for contributing and working together. In terms of basic standards for constructively working towards a common aim, the guidelines are the same as the Cassiopaea Forum guidelines. Additionally, as this project develops, we're developing some editorial conventions to keep the content more tidy and consistent.

Individual competences

Probably, most people who read this page know enough to contribute some new content, even in areas that they are not greatly knowledgeable about. There's a lot of material which can be drawn upon, e.g. excerpts and discussions on the Cassiopaea Forum, the recommended books, and relevant articles found on Sott.net. Apart from writing text, simply linking to such materials within articles is also a helpful contribution.

The more you know about a given subject, the more extensive the coverage you can probably give it in a competent way. With less knowledge, it is still possible to summarize the work of others, though one then has to be careful not to draw unsupported conclusions. With more knowledge, one can more competently draw conclusions of one's own, and potentially create unique syntheses of value to readers and supported by the facts.

For those delving deeper into a subject, further research can be the basis of contributions, and along with networking add to the ongoing learning of our community.

Accuracy is the most important consideration in writing and editing content. Style matters less, though of course it is good for content to be as clear, understandable, and concise as possible.

It is also possible to focus on improving the presentation of content, regardless of how much you know about the subject, assuming a reasonably good command of the English language. One can preserve what an article says while improving how it says it. Such work is also valuable. Grammar Nazis, pedants, and obsessive perfectionists who join are invited to bring their tendencies to bear on articles.

Improving articles

If you read something and see room for improvement, you can edit it, and/or discuss it with others. Here are some examples of the kinds of things often improved:

  • Grammar, spelling, etc. There may be errors.
  • Clarity. Maybe some text has vague wording, or is simply not as readable or understandable as it could be. Maybe text can be rewritten in a more straightforward way. Maybe terminology and acronyms can be better explained, with links to relevant articles. Or, maybe adding some concrete details or examples would help.
  • Meaning. Something of significance to a subject may be missing in an article. And/or, it may be possible to relate a subject meaningfully to more subjects. Then there's also the possibility that an article gives a wrong impression, perhaps because it focuses too much on some things and too little on others – or because it's outdated, or contains factual errors, etc.
  • Article structure. Maybe the content can be rearranged more nicely. Bringing together related things under headings, naming those headings, making the text "flow" well, etc. Particularly for longer articles, using headings makes it easier for readers to look up specific things.
  • Conciseness. If something is unnecessarily wordy, it can be condensed.
  • Formatting. Tweaking the "style" of the text, making articles look nice and consistent.
  • Links and references. Adding relevant links to articles. Links to other articles within text can help provide context, and be generally useful for browsing. External links can be added to the end of an article, so readers are pointed to further information (e.g. Sott and forum links). Finally, references can be added within the text to show where information is from.

There's no need for any one contributor to do everything – we can complement the skills of one another, and build upon one another's work. Different types of changes can vary widely in difficulty, depending both on their nature (all the way from trivial changes to requiring a rewrite that's better than the previous article) and on the particular skills and knowledge of the person doing the editing.

One of the easier things, adding useful external links (Cassiopaea Forum threads and posts, articles, videos, interviews, etc.) is a big undertaking that's barely been begun – and an important one, replacing the earlier idea (which never really took off) of assembling "Best of" threads on the forum for each of the big topics discussed there.

On the somewhat more difficult side, many articles could do with expansion, in order to cover more things and connect the dots. In particular, there's much that wasn't known when the Esoteric Glossary was written, but which is relevant to the articles derived from it, such as findings within modern fields of psychology and neuroscience.

Writing new articles

There's much we've come to learn and which is important but which isn't covered. Among the most helpful in practical terms might be psychological and health topics, though other things are also good to have on the wiki.

Then there's book pages, another little project which ties into generally covering things. Writing a page on a book about a subject is another way to add coverage of that subject.

In writing new articles, considerations are similar to when improving old ones. But it is more important to cover a topic accurately than to do it with style. Style can be improved later on, by whoever gets to it first.

Specific tasks

From time to time, one or more specific tasks for the wiki may be discussed on the forum, everyone who reads the discussion being invited to participate. Maybe a new article is started, forum members collaborating on the contents. Or maybe some larger project or idea is discussed and coordinated, and progress tracked through periodic updates.

Sometimes, various little projects or tasks are also tracked on this wiki itself, either instead of or in addition to on the forum. You can view such task tracking on the page CassWiki:Task tracking. You're most welcome to take on any open tasks!