ArchaeoWiki:Beginner's Guide - Writing Articles

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Introduction

So, you want to create your own article? We can help you with that.

ArchaeoWiki, like other wikis, relies on its contributor community to expand its content. This can be done through adding to existing articles or making new ones. If the topic you are interested in writing about doesn't exist already, you must establish one on your own. Sound daunting? Making your first article can seem like a major undertaking but, as we'll show you, it need not be difficult at all. Even small contributions set the stage for yourself and others to expand. Remember, you are free to write as little or as much as you like. All we ask is that our contributors endeavor to provide the best information they can and convey it as clearly as possible while giving credit to those who are responsible for generating that knowledge.

The following step by step guide will walk you through the basics of article creation. Keep in mind that you must be a member of ArchaeoWiki in order to add or edit pages. If you haven't gotten yourself an account with ArchaeoWiki, register here.

Also, at any point you can check to see what your article looks like by clicking the 'Preview' tab at the top of the editing window. You can also use the 'Show preview' button at the bottom. Clicking on the 'Wikitext' tab will return you to the editing page. You'll want to check often to make sure your text formatting and general layout looks how you'd like it.

Lastly, be sure to save your article on a regular basis! Few things are as frustrating as crafting an excellent article section, only to have a browser crash erase several hours work.

Step 1: Choose a topic

The range of topics to choose from throughout the entire discipline of Archaeology is truly staggering, even if one only considers types of material culture. Selecting something from this overwhelming pool of options can be challenging, but for your first article we suggest you choose something specific and with which you are familiar. For the sake of this tutorial, let us say that you are a numismatic scholar/student/enthusiast with an interest in Colonial Period South Asian coins. You might, then, choose to write about a particular type of coin, the Pai Sikka, that was produced by the East India Company in the early part of the 19th century during the Bengal Presidency in India. You search ArchaeoWiki using the search bar at the top and see that no one else has as yet made this article. Excellent! You'll start things off.

Step 2: Create the Article Page

Before you can start writing you must first create the page, and this is accomplished by simply typing the name of the subject into the search bar and clicking the "Go" button. If the page exists, it will either take you right there or show you options for similar matches. If there are no exact matches, you will see a link that says: Create the page "Pai Sikka" on this wiki! Clicking that link will create the page and automatically enter editing mode.

At this point, it is important to remember that nothing you create on ArchaeoWiki is written in stone. Content, links, media, and even page names themselves can be changed in the future by any collaborator. While the community as a whole, and administrators in particular, will be diligent to ensure that information is not deleted or modified inappropriately, the ability to alter and reorganize information is one of the main strengths of the wiki platform. So, expect things to change and don't stress about getting your format or organization 'right' the first time.

Step 3: Layout

At this point, you have a blank canvas on which to work. Again, this can be overwhelming. You may want to look at another page to see how a similar article has been organized under subheadings or with tables of summarized dates, places, etc. How you organize an article very much depends on that the topic is and what kinds of information need to be conveyed. Since this is your first article, let's take the easy road: a single paragraph under one heading. As you become more confident with your layout, additional subsections and content can be added. For a list of basic coding guidelines, including headings, see the Editing How-To Guide.

Step 4: Basic Content

Here's a short example of what you might write for the Pai Sikka article:

==Description==
The Pai Sikka is a kind of copper coin minted in India between approximately 1775 and 1831 during the Bengal Presidency. This coin was produced by the East India Company at several mints, including one in Banaras and one in Calcutta. It held varying value depending on the year and economic context, but was typically worth 1/4 anna or 1/64 rupee. Pai Sikka weigh (approximately) between 11.64g and 6.1g.

The first line above creates the heading "Description", and the following text appears below it. This small bit of information is a good start and you might leave it there for the time being as far as content goes. However, all information provided should have a source cited, where possible, so you'll need to know how to reference.

Step 5: References

For the sake of argument, let us suppose all this information came from one source, John Tiberius Doe's famous 1901 monograph entitled Coins of the Bengal Presidency. It is possible that someone else has already used this source in another article. If so, some work has been done for you and you will be able to use the reference tag (RefTag) to put in your citation. To check whether a reference exists, or to generally search through the entire reference database, click on the References link in the Navigation bar. To make life a little easier, we recommend opening that page in a separate window (ctrl-click on most Windows-based Browsers).

Under the 'Search References' section, input the author's (last) name and the publication year, or perhaps a portion of the title and then click 'Run Query'. Note that spelling and capitalization must be exact, so less information often works better. If the reference exists in the system, it will be shown with the appropriate RefTag, which you can use to make your citation. In this case, let's assume it does not exist.

To make a new reference, have a look at the New Reference section of the References Page. It prompts you for a reference tag ID and a reference type. Guidelines on how to come up with a RefTag are provided in the Article Naming Conventions page, a link to which is provide don that page. For our single author, the appropriate format is DoeJT-1901. If that RefTag is already in use, you can always add a letter to the end (i.e. DoeJT-1901d). Place the RefTag in the appropriate box and choose Book in the drop down box, then click the 'Create or edit' button. Once you do this, a window will open that prompts you to put in all the relevant information for that source. Fill out the relevant fields and then click 'Save Page'.

Now that you've made your reference, anyone can use that RefTag to refer to that particular resource. To add your reference to the text of your article, add an in-line citation as shown below in bold:

==Description==
The Pai Sikka is a kind of copper coin minted in India between approximately 1775 and 1831 during the Bengal Presidency. This coin was produced by the East India Company at several mints, including one in Banaras and one in Calcutta. It held varying value depending on the year and economic context, but was typically worth 1/4 anna or 1/64 rupee. Pai Sikka weigh (approximately) between 11.64g and 6.1g ({{Cite|DoeJT-1901|Doe 1901}}).

The double square brackets define a link of some kind, in this case to a page - your new reference. The first half of the link includes your RefTag (DoeJT-1901) and denotes the specific page to which the link will send the user. Following the 'bar' separator, which is found above the Enter key on most PC keyboards, is the text you want the link to appear as on the page. In this case we include the author's last name and the year of publication. This is the preferred format for in-line citation on ArchaeoWiki, but alternate forms are also permitted under appropriate circumstances. For instance, the code {{Cite|DoeJT-1901|1901}} would display just the year, as in: As discussed by Doe (1901), the...

Step 6: Links

In addition to references, links to other pages on ArchaeoWiki and elsewhere on the Internet should be included in your page. Let's add external links to the Wikipedia pages for the Bengal Presidency and the East India Company (both topics that have been covered extensively elsewhere) and internal links to Anna and Rupee, even if those pages don't exist.

==Description==
The Pai Sikka is a kind of copper coin minted in India between approximately 1775 and 1831 during the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_Presidency Bengal Presidency]. This coin was produced by the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company East India Company]. at several mints, including one in Banaras and one in Calcutta. It held varying value depending on the year and economic context, but was typically worth 1/4 [[anna]] or 1/64 [[rupee]] . Pai Sikka weigh (approximately) between 11.64g and 6.1g ({{Cite|DoeJT-1901|Doe 1901}}).

Note that the format of external and internal links are quite different. Now, these portions of the text now serve as connections to those pages. If, in the case of the anna page, an article does not yet exist on ArchaeoWiki, clicking the link will take the user to a blank page for that topic. In this way, contributors can identify subjects that they think should be covered and make them known to the rest of the community. In fact, you can check to see all non-existent pages that have links to them from other pages here.

Step 7: Property Tags

Equally as easy to do, but more exciting for some, is the addition of property tags. This is where you can attach information to the database in a format that yourself and others can use in a more dynamic and flexible way than plain text searching. For example, you could use the tag [[Is Made From::]] to indicate from what material the coin is made, or the tags [[Date Start Is::]] and [[Date End Is::]] to set the temporal range for the coin. New tags are created simply by using them, though you'll want to check to make sure someone else hasn't already made the same tag. You can find a list of the tags defined so far here. If we add the above to our Pai Sikka page we get:

==Description==
The Pai Sikka is a kind of [[Is Made From::copper]] [[Artifact Type Is::coin]] minted in India between approximately [[Date Start Is::1775]] and [[Date End Is::1831]] during the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_Presidency Bengal Presidency]. This coin was produced by the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company East India Company] at several mints, including one in Banaras and one in Calcutta. It held varying value depending on the year and economic context, but was typically worth 1/4 [[anna]] or 1/64 [[rupee]]. Pai Sikka weigh (approximately) between 11.64g and 6.1g ({{Cite|DoeJT-1901|Doe 1901}}).

Now that you have added those tags, anyone would be able to find Pai Sikka if you searched for coins (under the Artifact Type Is tag), for artifacts made from copper (under the Is Made From tag), for material culture produced within this date range (under the Date Start Is and Date End Is tags), or any combination thereof. Adding tags takes only a few seconds but it makes ArchaeoWiki that much more powerful a tool.

Step 8: Feel Good!

Congratulations on tackling your first article! Hopefully, at this point, you understand the basics of article creation and are excited to add (to) more pages. Remember: no given article belongs to any specific contributor. Feel free to explore the site and add content, references, links, and property tags where you think they will be useful. Just be mindful and considerate of the contributions of others and always be thinking of how any given article can be connected to others in a meaningful and useful way.

Happy wiki-ing!

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