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Warhammer 40k - Lexicanum:Guide to Article Writing

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Introduction

This article is written as a guide, and the contents represent the opinion of the author(s). It is not a definite approach to article writing, but the experiences and ideas of the following writer(s) are presented to assist the reader in improving his of her skills with using the Lexicanum.

Where to Start

Welcome to the Lexicanum, soon to be the number one source of Warhammer and Warhammer 40k information. These two fictional worlds are extremely vast, the accumulative works of more than two decades of gaming, writing and artwork. As such, the depth of them requires a large online source to explain them in detail.

The scope of this article is to introduce the reader to basic approaches on creating and improving articles throughout the Lexicanum. Many new wikipedia users sit down and immediately begin writing to the effect of the subject matter. Unfortunately, after they finish they get a slap on the wrist by moderators for forgetting simple things, such as sources, correctly categorizing the article, etc, etc. This can be discouraging and the worst possible result is that the Lexicanum contributor can completely give up submitting.

The Lexicanum can only thrive because of the combined efforts and personal initiative of hundreds of users. No one is paid to support this, to write for it or find sources and material to add. No Commissar put a gun to this writer's head and made him write this. It is only by the users' good will that the world have the Lexicanum in the first place, and as such one should endeavor to respect other authors and illuminate them as to the protocol of the Lexicanum, while at the same time encouraging what they are doing correctly.

Writing

The meat of the Lexicanum is in our writing. Due to copyright laws, we are forbidden from simply using the source material itself as the contents of each article. Instead, we write about the subject matter and its details as per views supported by the source material itself. Thus, whatever we write is technically our own words, but still requires citable sources from accepted source material. Hence, written material from Games Workshop and the Black Library, publications from White Dwarf, and any other branch or company who has been given permission to use the Intellectual Property of Games Workshop, such as Relic Entertainment in the Dawn of War gaming series.

When sitting down to write, remember. Never write anything you can't back up yourself. Even taking the subject matter from other sources, the sources themselves need to be checked and verified. Just because Wikipedia says something does not mean it's true. Just like Denzel Washington said in Training Day, "It's not what you know. It's what you can prove."

You can write something and leave it there for a while, but sooner or later those citations are needed, or the article has to be removed.

Second, when writing, stick to the appropriate language and use grammar and punctuation to the best of your ability. Do not write English in the German section, even if many German fans can read it. The same goes vice versa. Punctuate and use proper grammar as best you can. Other more detailed users will correct the articles as we go, but there is no reason excessive bad spelling should be published on the Lexicanum.

Third, and this is paramount, write as though your words represent the authority on the subject matter. Never use phrased akin to, "It is my opinion that-" because this article isn't about what you think. It's about the subject matter and the sources that prove it. Never use words such as I, my, our, we, as they represent what someone thinks as opposed to what the subject matter is truly about.

Technical

What differentiates the Lexicanum and Wikipedia from a regular encyclopedia is that it makes strong use of the internet to connect articles, present information in different formats and can have pictures added or removed per dictated circumstances. This is powerful, but we need to grasp the underlying technology in order to make use of that power.

Your best friend in this matter is the formatting toolbar, located at the top of the editting page. This toolbar has a variety of basic tools that simply add the necessary syntax commands into the editting field. Basics such as Bold text or Italic text are available with just a click of the button if you do not know them off hand.

Another significant method to learn tagging is simply to look at the underlying tags in articles that make use of what you want. Click on a page and select the "edit" tab up top. The source of the article is displayed, and without changing the article, you can locate the necessary tags you need to make changes.

Certain multi-variable (as in, tags that can be modified in many ways) tags are represented by using a | inside the context of the tag. For example, pictures. Pictures are a combination of a link combined with options to change details about them. Observe to your right.

Look at me! Don't do drugs, kids!

This picture was linked by the following syntax: [[Image:Enginseer.jpg|right|thumbnail|Look at me! Don't do drugs, kids!]]

The first part, Image:Enginseer.jpg, connects the image to this article. The second part, right, moves the picture over to the right. Thumbnail shrinks it down and gives it a nice looking template, which the fourth part then adds text underneath for humorous effect.

Linking, as in putting words between these [[double brackets]] lets you not only put images in your articles, but links this article to others, such as information about the Imperium. Working articles will appear in bold brown, but bad articles will appear in bold orange. These mean that there is no article at the end of that link. You can create one, but for the one listed above, please don't.

To link an article just put the exact name in double brackets, like this: [[Imperium]]. If you want, you can link phrases and words to articles. By the way, Leman Russ says hello. The link says something different, but takes you to an article about Leman Russ. To do this, use a | inside the link, followed by whatever you want it linked too. To see what I mean, the syntax of the link above is [[Leman Russ|says hello]].

Aesthetics

Just because what is written is fantastic and the technical use is amazing doesn't mean that articles can't need work. A good looking article is just as important as the other two aspects. Terrible looking articles are rarely read, or are sometimes illegible all together.

Parts of aesthetics fit into the other two categories. A few pictures can really bring out an article. Proper spelling, grammar and punctuation help greatly. But sometimes an article needs to be broken out, have pictures and sections moved and proper alignments placed to improve the quality of the article over all.

Your best bet to accomplish this is the preview button at the bottom. Before submitting everything, try and give it a once over and proof read your work. Although mistakes can always be made, do your best to minimize them since it's a pain for others to be correcting your work for you.

If your work is far from finished, and you have no other source or whatsoever to complete it yourself, please remember to put it into the Stub category, this can be done by putting this {{Stub}} at the very top of that article.

Conclusion

This article should give you a good idea of the basics behind good article writing. Try to make use of everything listed here in your approach to using the Lexicanum. If anyone needs help, has questions or wants assistance, contact a Sysop, or myself.

Good luck. And may the Omnissiah bless you,

--Techpriest Lygris