Help:Developing New Rules

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Here is how new WikiTree style rules and policies are developed.

See the Style FAQ for background information.


Proposing New Rules

We are a community that develops our rules together in a very open process.

Any member of the community can propose a new style rule, a clarification, or a change to a policy or procedure.

Step 1: Draft the Rule

If you'd like to see a change, start by drafting the style page or help page you'd like to see, or the change or addition you'd like to see made on an existing style page or help page.

You can do this on a free-space profile or in the G2G message described in step 2.

Even though this is a draft try to write as if it's an existing rule that you're describing. Carefully explain to the reader how they should implement the rule. Link to related rules and explain how they relate to each other.

Put a notice at the top of the rule that makes clear it's a draft. Sign and date this comment (you can sign by entering four tildes, ~~~~).

Step 2: Propose in G2G

Next post a message in our G2G forum.

Title it something like "Should this become the official WikiTree policy on X?"

Tag the message with proposals and anything else appropriate to the topic.

In the text of the message, include or link to your draft, and add any additional information that might be helpful, such as:

  • Why you believe it's important for this change to happen.
  • Disadvantages to the rule that you have considered and why you think the advantages outweigh them.

It's a good idea to specifically ask for input, positive and negative. It often makes sense to post two answers to your own question, one saying "Yes, I support this change" and one saying "No, I don't support this change." Ask for members to vote up their preference and explain with comments.

If you are a WikiTree Project Leader, draw attention to your post through our private e-mail list. It should not be discussed privately. This is just to make sure that Leaders see it.

You might also contact other individuals or project groups that might have a special interest in the topic. Simply tagging the question should make sure they see it, but messages can get overlooked.

Step 3: Discussions and Revisions

After you post, expect feedback and be prepared to listen to it. There will almost always be things that you didn't consider.

You may need to redraft your proposal. If there are significant revisions and the original G2G post is becoming long and complicated, post a new one.

Don't rush this. Give yourself and others time to mull it over, especially if the issue isn't urgent.

Finalizing Rules

It's usually clear from the G2G discussion whether a new rule or change has significant objections or will be controversial. Highly controversial rules are not usually implemented. They are usually discussed until major objections are overcome or a compromise is found. Ideally, we aim for consensus.

However, our community is not a democracy. The WikiTree Team has final responsibility for making sure that rules:

  1. don't contradict each other,
  2. can be supported, technically-speaking, and
  3. are consistent with our mission, our pledge to keep WikiTree free forever, and our commitment to the long-term future.

We cannot promise to support new rules unless we are confident that we can do it.

There is no set timeline for finalizing a rule. It may depend on:

  • The urgency of the issue, e.g. whether delaying the implementation of a rule will be harmful.
  • Other rules that may need to be considered or finalized first.
  • Internal or external technical changes that may be coming which would affect the issue.

If there has been no discussion for two weeks and you would like to see it finalized, post a follow-up comment on the G2G discussion asking if it can be closed. Then email pointing to your request for closure.

Finalization requires that a Team Member put the rule on an official page in the Help namespace, e.g. /wiki/Help:Test. Official rules cannot be on free-space profiles because any member can edit these pages and edits are not monitored. Only Team Members and Leaders can edit pages in the Help namespace and Team Members monitor changes to them.

Rules are categorized in Category:WikiTree Help and/or Category:Styles and Standards. Pages outside of the Help namespace should not go in these categories because members can reasonably expect that what they see here is officially recommended.

When a rule is finalized — when it becomes something officially recommended — WikiTree will make every attempt to:

  1. Support it, technically.
  2. Not recommend against it later, unless the rule is changed through the same public, deliberate, somewhat slow process described above.

See the Style FAQ for related questions and answers, such as whether doing something that isn't officially recommended is forbidden.

This page was last modified 20:23, 8 October 2021. This page has been accessed 4,330 times.