Help:Style FAQ

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Here are questions and answers about WikiTree's agreed-upon styles and standards.


Why do we need style rules?

Since we all collaborate on shared profiles we need to agree on how profiles should look. Otherwise personal preferences might conflict and lead to bitter disagreements. For example, the poet e.e. cummings might prefer that every word of his profile be written in lowercase letters. On his own profile, it might be fine. However, profiles of his ancestors that are shared with other descendants should use capitalization standards that are generally agreed-upon.

Clear style rules make technical development easier, and make our content more resilient to future changes.

Where do you find the style rules?

The style guide is a category page: Category:Styles and Standards.

Official style rules should all be on pages linked from here. If you see a rule that is on a free-space profile (the page URL begins with Space:) you cannot assume it's an official rule.

If you are working on high-level profiles it's best to be in contact with project members and ask questions in G2G. Highly-collaborative, widely-shared profiles are where style rules are the most important, and often where they are hardest to understand and apply. Communication with others is especially important because there may be rules that are generally agreed-upon by the project members but haven't yet been clearly explained on an official style page.

How are new style rules developed?

The need for new rules usually emerges in the context of projects where members are collaborating on widely-shared profiles of deep ancestors. Often there is conflict that provides the impetus to clarify a policy. However, anyone can propose a new rule at any time. See Developing New Rules.

Do style rules apply to all profiles?

Yes. Style rules apply to all profiles on WikiTree.

Style rules in one project should never conflict with those in another project or with basic rules.

Style rules apply on private profiles and free-space profiles as much as they apply on widely-shared Open profiles. This is misunderstood because, practically speaking, the rules don't matter as much where there is less collaboration. Style rules may not be enforced on private and free-space profiles, and those who want to experiment may do so here. This experimentation is done at the editor's risk. See below.

See "Do style rules apply equally to all profiles?" on G2G for more explanation.

Is it forbidden to break the style rules?

We don't usually use the word "forbidden" when talking about style rules.

Things like pornography and spam are forbidden through our legal Terms of Service. The points of the Honor Code, such as those on courtesy and citing sources, are rules that all active members are expected to follow. Styles and standards are more like guidelines. Style rules are the community consensus for what should be done.

That said, we strongly recommend against using anything other than recommended styles, especially on Open profiles. If you do something that isn't specifically recommended on private or free-space profiles, you do so at your own risk. See below.

What happens if you knowingly break style rules?

If you knowingly break style rules on Open profiles it may cause conflicts that, ultimately, could escalate to the termination of your account. The same is true on private or free-space profiles if it's a problem for others who are collaborating with you. Even private profiles are not owned by the Profile Manager(s) and the style rules still apply.

There is wiggle room here, intentionally. Pioneers who experiment with new methods may discover ways of doing things that are ultimately adopted by the entire community. However, it's important to understand that if you do something non-standard you are taking risks:

  • First, you have to accept that someone else may change what you have done and you have no grounds to object. Any member can edit a profile so that it conforms to standard style.
  • Second, anything non-standard may not be supported in the future. If something is specifically recommended on a help or style page WikiTree will always try to support it in future changes and in whatever comes after WikiTree.

What HTML, CSS, and wiki markup tags are allowed?


This page was last modified 15:11, 11 May 2022. This page has been accessed 7,719 times.