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, this might not cause problems. However, profiles of his ancestors that are shared with other descendants should use capitalization standards that are generally agreed-upon.

Clear style rules also make technical development easier, and make our content more resilient for the unknowable future.

Where do you find style rules?

The style guide is a category page: Category:Styles and Standards. Style rules should all be on pages linked from here.

If you are working on high-level profiles it's best to be in contact with the project for the region and time period, or 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.

How are 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 a conflict that raises a question and provides the impetus to clarify a policy. However, anyone can propose a new rule at any time. See Developing New Rules.

What is the difference between site-wide rules and project rules?

If you see a rule on a free-space profile instead of a help page — the page URL begins with Space: instead of Help: — it is a project rule, not a site-wide community rule.

Project rules are elaborations on site-wide rules. They are meant to apply the agreed-upon rules of the general community to the specific circumstances of a region or time period. They are not meant to enforce stricter or higher standards, except as they apply to pre-1700 profiles and project-managed profiles.

Site-wide rules are created through the slow and deliberative Developing New Rules process. All community members have an opportunity to consider and debate them. The help pages that describe them are carefully monitored by the WikiTree Team. Project rules, on the other hand, are created and managed by smaller groups of members working within projects. In some cases, they were written by just one or two leading members who needed to make decisions in a new area.

Because of how carefully they are developed, site-wide rules are the most reliable. You can assume that they are correct and will not frequently change. We sometimes discover that site-wide rules are inconsistent with each other, but this is more common with project rules. We often discover that rules developed within one project conflict with rules developed by another project. Since we collaborate on one tree, these conflicts need to be worked out, and this often results in site-wide rules being created or clarified.

If you find a project rule that seems inconsistent with a site-wide rule or convention, or conflicts with a rule in a different project, please ask about it in G2G. See Help:Finding the Question in a Conflict for guidance.

Do style rules apply to private profiles?

Yes. Style rules are meant to apply to all profiles on WikiTree, including private profiles of living people. However, 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 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 page WikiTree will 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 14:20, 5 December 2023. This page has been accessed 10,572 times.