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Tutorial - GovITwiki


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GovITwiki is a continuous, endless process — what you write could be around for centuries! Even deletions are recorded, so anything you do here remains an accessible part of GovITwiki, available for future reference. But don't be anxious! While editing, keep in mind the following things, and you will soon find yourself making effective contributions to the project.

The primary objective of GovITwiki is to produce a high-quality reference site that tracks all of what is happening today in government information technology. There is no official structure policing the quality of articles, but the GovITwiki community does follow a simple set of internal rules, procedures and values, which continue to evolve. Some of these values are informal and you will learn them from observing, asking, or being told by other editors.

If you follow these behaviors, you will likely be treated with kindness and respect. As you gain experience, you might learn of additional style guides, handy ways to do things etc. But don't worry too much if you don't understand at first. Someone will clean up after you, and, as time goes on, you'll learn more of the subtleties of how to be a great Government IT reference site.!

There is no strict set of rules, instead there is a set of guidelines which you can choose to follow. You might see people do things that are plainly not in accordance with these guidelines, but which may still be well within the actual GovITwiki policies. The "be gracious" guideline applies in those situations too. In many cases, well-informed and well-intentioned editors working on an article just have to sort out among themselves the most appropriate way to improve the article.

Guidelines for writing high quality articles

  1. Neutral point of view. Write from a neutral point of view. This is a fundamental principle of this wite, which allows us to make a fair representation of the world around us. Even if material is verifiable, it is still important to put it into a balanced and representative form so that it conveys a fair impression of the views of the many significant viewpoints on a subject.
  2. Verifiability. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reliable sources. Editors should cite reliable sources for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, otherwise it may be removed by any editor. The obligation to provide a reliable source is on the editors wishing to include the material, not on those seeking to remove it.
  3. No original research. Articles may not contain previously unpublished arguments, concepts, data, or theories; or any new analysis or synthesis of published arguments, concepts, data, or theories that serves to advance a position.

Safe behaviours

The intent of these guidelines is to provide a safe set of rules of thumb. Follow these behaviours, and you'll likely not get into trouble. (And adhering to these ideals may improve the prospects of aspiring administrators.)

  1. Be bold! in updating pages. Go ahead, it's a wiki!
    Encourage others, including those who disagree with you, likewise to Be bold!
  2. Be civil to other users at all times.
  3. When in doubt, take it to the talk page. We have all the time in the world. Mutual respect is the guiding behavioural principle of GovITwiki and, although everyone knows that their writing may be edited mercilessly, it is easier to accept changes if the reasons for them are understood. If you discuss changes on the article's talk (or discussion) page before you make them, you should reach consensus faster and happier.
  4. Decent edit summaries and clear and transparent explanations are universally appreciated. Other editors need to understand your process, and it also helps you yourself to understand what you did after a long leave of absence from an article. Please state what you changed and why. If the explanation is too long, elucidate on the discussion page. It is a fundamental principle of GovITwiki that anyone may edit articles without registering, so there are a lot of changes to watch; edit summaries simplify this.
  5. Assume good faith; in other words, try to consider the person on the other end of the discussion to be a thinking, rational being who is trying to positively contribute to GovITwiki. Even if you're convinced that they're Evil reptilian kitten eaters from another planet, still pretend they're acting in good faith. Ninety percent of the time, you'll find that they actually are acting in good faith (and wouldn't you have looked stupid if you'd accused them of being evil).
  6. Particularly, don't revert good faith edits. Reverting is a little too powerful sometimes, hence the three-revert rule. Don't succumb to the temptation, unless you're reverting very obvious vandalism (like "LALALALAL*&*@#@THIS_SUX0RZsammygoo", or someone changing "4+5=9" to "4+5=30"). If you really can't stand something, revert once, with an edit summary something like "(rv) I disagree strongly, I'll explain why in talk." and immediately take it to talk.
  7. Be gracious: Be liberal in what you accept, be conservative in what you do. Try to accommodate other people's quirks the best you can, and try to be as polite, solid and straightforward as possible yourself.
  8. Signing. Sign on talk pages (using ~~~~ which gets replaced by your username and timestamp when you hit submit), but don't sign on mainspace articles.
  9. Use the Show preview button; it prevents cluttering up the page-history.
  10. Foundation issues: There are only 5 actual rules on GovITwiki: neutral point of view, the wiki process, the ability of anyone to edit, and the ultimate authority of Jimbo and the board on process matters. If you disagree strongly with them, you may want to consider whether GovITwiki is the right place for you. While anything can theoretically be changed on a wiki, the community up to this point has been built on these principles and is highly unlikely to move away from them in the future. A lot of thought has been put into them and they've worked for us so far; do give them a fair shake before attempting to radically change them or leaving the project.
  11. Don't infringe copyright. Content posted here becomes owned in whole by Government IT Wiki.
  12. Ignore all rules - rules on GovITwiki are not fixed in stone. When a rule seems wrong, and it prevents you from maintaining or improving GovITwiki, ignore it.
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