Wikibooks:Talk page

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What is a talk page?

A talk page is a special page containing discussion about the contents of its associated "subject" page. To view the talk page of a module (or any other page in Wikibooks), click on the "Discuss this page" link in the sidebar or at the bottom of the screen. When you are in the talk page, clicking on "View module" will take you back to the main module.

Inevitably, there will arise situations in which collaborators on a module can benefit mutually from discussing the module--thus we have designated a namespace specifically for such discussions.

What is it used for?

On Wikibooks, the purpose of a talk page is to help to improve the contents of the main page, from an neutral point of view. Questions, challenges, excised text (due to truly egregious confusion or bias, for example), arguments relevant to changing the text, and commentary on the main page is all fair play.

Wikibooks is not a soapbox, it's a collection of non-fiction books. In other words, talk about the module, not about the subject. It's only the habits we encourage that keeps Wikibooks from turning into another H2G2 or Everything2. See also: Wikipetiquette

That said, Wikibooks:Wikibookians are fallible creatures, so it's entirely natural that a bit of partisan wrangling takes place on talk pages - and occasionally this even leads to improvements in the module! So there's a fair degree of tolerance, and most Wikibookians succumb to a bit of wrangling from time to time.

User talk pages

Your user page has a talk page as well. There is a link to it in the header next to your name (if you use a "skin" other than the default it may be somewhere else). Also, if edits are made to it by others, the text You have new messages will appear at the top of the page. These pages can be used for occasional personal communication among users; but note that these pages are public. If you want to communicate privately, use e-mail.

To write in another user's talk page, click the Discuss this page link on your sidebar when you view the user page (which you can do by clicking on a user's nickname). On the list of recent changes and on your watchlist, you can directly access a user's talk page by following the (Talk) link behind the user's name / IP address.

"Post a comment" feature

For editing a talk page, one can optionally use the "Post a comment" feature, but only for a new thread and for a reply to be put at the bottom of the last thread.

  • For a new thread, fill in the "Subject/headline" box. Then the edit summary is automatically the same as the new section header.
  • For a reply to be put at the bottom of the last thread, do not fill in the "Subject/headline" box. In this case it is not possible to supply an edit summary. Instead, edit the previous thread.

When using "Post a comment", an edit conflict is impossible. However, in the case that you are not starting a new thread but replying to an existing one, your response may be appended to a newly created post that was added while you wrote yours. It is therefore generally recommended to use section editing to respond, and "Post a comment" to start new threads. If your comment is accidentally misplaced, just edit the page and move it.

Standards and conventions of writing and layout

A few community standards do apply to talk pages, these are not to be taken strictly as "rules" but were evolved by users to make the talk pages more useful and easier to read. Often the talk pages of controversial topics can be very heavily used.

  • Sign your posts: To sign a post, type three tildes (~~~), and they will be replaced with your username after saving, like this: Karl Wick. Type four tildes (~~~~), and they will be replaced with your username and time stamp, like this: Karl Wick 03:44 Jul 10, 2003 (UTC). On Wikibooks we recommend that you try to always sign your posts on talk pages. You can also use a pseudonym, or just "--anon".
  • Use indenting to keep the conversation straight: The first contributor is all the way to the left, the next person starts with one colon (:), the next person starts with two colons. Then, when the first contributor responds, she starts at the left margin again, and the second and third persons continue to mark themselves with one and two colons respectively, In that way, who is saying what is clear.
  • Separate discussion topics: Put each new topic under a different headline (== Subject ==). The "Post a comment" feature accomplishes this automatically when you enter a subject line. The edit summary is automatically the same as this header. Thus every thread is a section. This allows section editing of the thread in question. You can also use horizontal lines (----), although some users strongly dislike them.
  • Proceed vertically: The further down the contribution to talk, the later it was made.
  • Feel free to ignore typographical conventions: Do as you please to make your points clear. The Manual of Style is for just modules and Wikibooks.
  • Make links freely: Links to modules are as useful on talk pages as anywhere else, and links to non-existent modules can help get them onto the most wanted pages list.
  • Don't edit other people's words: Please don't ever do this (except for obvious typing errors) but editing or deleting your own words is up to you. (but contrast this with suggestions on refactoring below - this could be considered a simplistic approach)
  • Archive rather than delete: When a talk page's content has become extremely large or the discussion of the issue in hand has simply died down and no one has a reasonable chance of adding to it. Then create a new page. (See Help:How to contribute for details.) Place the page in a talk or Wikibooks namespace. Give it an explanatory name. Often people simply add "archive" to the original name. Explain on the archive page where the text you plan to archive will come from and provide a link. Cut the relevant content from the original page and paste it into the new page. Replace the text on the original page with a link to the archive.
  • Summarize discussion (or refactor): After a discussion on a page has died down for several weeks or the discussion has become heated and long, you (if you can be smart and respectful at the same time) might replace the discussion with a summary of major points, as though you were (!) writing an encyclopedia module about the discussion. If the discussion entailed opposing arguments, present the arguments from an unbiased point of view. Where possible, distinguish the common ground from the points of contention. See Refactoring talk pages below.
  • Keep to the topic: Not layout, but worth keeping in mind. Talk page discussions can be much more humorous and POV than the typical module, but personal attacks don't do much to make modules better.

Example

This module is great. mav 18:20 Jul 30, 2003 (UTC)

No it isn't! --fish
Yes it is! --wojahowicz
I was talking to mav! --fish
Now, now. Toby Bartels

Need this more?

We need a module on kindness more than we need this mess. --Alfred the butler

Yeah, but what about rubber baby buggy bumpers? -- Comissioner gordon

Refactoring talk pages

from editing policy

A point of terminology: the notion of refactoring, in the context of a wiki, means basically cleaning up and reorganizing a page such that all the useful information on the page is preserved and made more accessible. It's relatively rare that one needs to entirely refactor a Wikibooks module--usually, edits and additions are what is necessary.

The purpose of talk pages is to assist in creating better modules. Therefore, the purpose of refactoring talk page discussions is to help create good textbook modules, at least in the long run. A short-run purpose is to channel a discussion in a useful direction, that is, to help aim it at the future time when it can be used in an textbook module.

There are a number of talk or other discussion oriented pages which could use a bit of traditional Wiki refactoring. There's useful content there, sometimes, that can be transferred to the module itself. Sometimes large chunks of old talk pages can be completely wiped out with no harm done--feel free to do so, unless you think there's some value in preserving the discussion. In refactoring a talk page, one solid recommendation is to use the traditional wiki refactoring technique of adding a summary with whatever consensus we've arrived at the top, grouping separate discussion items together, and placing them towards the bottom.