Battlestar Wiki:Perfect stub article

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Copied in part from Wikipedia's "Perfect Stub Article", under the GNU GPL.

Stub articles are the ugly ducklings in the Battlestar Wiki nebula. Stubs are the antithesis of the Battlestar Wiki's goal and thus should be eradicated with ruthlessly accurate research and writing. However, they should also be considered seeds, from which information will blossom. As the site is recent, users are welcome to leave seeds for others to grow upon.

Creating or Editing

When creating or editing a "stub" article, remember that its value is primarily in what it will become, and that it must grow if it is to become anything at all. Don't assume that additions and improvements will immediately pour in of themselves. 'The best way to draw the attention of others into contributing is by editing it yourself, even a small copyedit — your edit will appear on the recent changes page, where many seasoned contributors yearn to follow the action, and jump in where there's work being done. You don't have to do extensive research to create a foundation on which others will be eager to build, but you should be thoughtful enough to simply add what you know, or correct what you may know is incorrect.

When looking at incorrect information, avoid negativity. Do not offer offensive, abrasive comments to contributors; do not label the work of others as "FUBAR" or wrong. Accept it as an opportunity to improve upon existing work with your own knowledge and skill.

To Define a Stub

Among the traditional proverbial suggestions about Wikidom, there is the idea that articles should not be "perfect" — having a misspelled word or two draws a reader into correcting that article and being interested in adding more. A summary of this idea might be focus on writing an article or editing it — don't try to do both. Here are a few suggested guidelines:

  1. Provide a "This is a stub" message by adding {{stub}} or {{mstub}}.
  2. Follow the standards of correct English. Write in full, clear sentences.
  3. Give a clear, precise definition or description of your topic. Avoid fallacies of definition. For biographies and articles about non-concepts (e.g., about planets and ships), definitions are impossible, so begin with a clear, helpful, informative description of the subject. State what a person is noted for, where a place is and what it is known for, the basic details of an event and when it happened, etc. A good definition or description may encourage potential contributors by suggesting the limits of the article, indirectly summarizing what needs to be done. For example, President Adar was the last president of the 12 Colonies prior to the Cylon Holocaust would be a good description.
  4. Try to give more than just a definition — at least a little more. It doesn't hurt to be provocative, as long as you attempt to be unbiased and reasonably accurate. What is interesting and important about the subject? If your introduction would make someone want to read further, then it will probably entice someone to write further. As little as one extra sentence can turn a good description into a brilliant stub, e.g. President Adar was the final president of the 12 Colonies prior to the Cylon Holocaust. His confidant was the impromptu traitor Gaius Baltar, who indirectly caused his murder, and Laura Roslin's ascension to the presidency. With a start like that, you don't have to know any more yourself; a dozen contributors will be falling over themselves to fill in the details.
  5. Make sure any relevant linkable words have been linked. But be careful about which words you link to; see naming conventions. e.g. President Adar was the final president of the 12 Colonies prior to the Cylon Holocaust. A notable acquaintance of his was the impromptu traitor Gaius Baltar, who indirectly caused his murder, and Laura Roslin's ascension to the presidency.
  6. Submit the article with a Summary comment that will attract the attention of others to your stub. If nothing else, cut and paste the stub itself into the Summary field when you save your article.
  7. Feel some responsibility for your stub article. There is a fine line between helping by outlining out what needs to be done, and being annoying by not doing anything yourself. If nobody contributes to your stub for a few weeks, roll up your sleeves and expand it yourself. Take the fact that nobody has contributed as a hint that your stub might not have been that great, and if nothing else, try to make it a better stub.
  8. Don't just add links. Links are fine normally, but just on their own, they say very little about the topic you are writing about.

It is possible to follow these guidelines without writing a treatise. Generally, for the shortest of Perfect Stubs, two sentences will do fine — as long as they're two good sentences. (And if you don't know enough about a topic to write two good sentences, do consider not writing a stub.) The extra time and concentration required will pay off in a higher probability that you get the ball rolling on something, rather than putting up a static object of derision.

Admittedly, these guidelines are in some sense irrelevant because no matter what you do, someone will probably fix the article for you. That's the beauty of a wiki! But if you want to contribute something positive, and you can't write the whole article yourself, then at least let your contribution be an implicit invitation to participation.