# Thoughts on related issues -- over & above style guide recommendations ......

I'm very pleased to see this organic emergence of a work group looking at style guidelines :-) -- A few additional thoughts:

• We may need to develop a concise resource on the rationale for guidelines -- eg promoting consistency etc. Perhaps this should be specified as an outcome in the Charter for the workgroup.
• Personally, I feel that style guidelines should be an incentive rather than a disincentive for collaboration --- We need to think carefully about the processes whereby we implement the style guidelines. Sadly, some wiki projects use style guidelines as a mechanism to reprimand newbies for not adhering to agreed process. I would love to see a wiki that tolerates experimentation and learning. Perhaps we need to think about a mechanism whereby primary authors opt into the style guidelines. For example -- a category or template which says "I want to improve my resource by adhering to style guidelines -- help!" rather than a witch hunt for pages that don't meet style guidelines. Basically if an author doesn't physically request style guideline compliance -- the style guide police should leave the page alone.
• How do we incorporate the style guidelines with the QAF framework as an incentive?
• What training materials, resources do we need to support prospective style experts in our community?
20:06, 16 July 2009

"We may need to develop a concise resource on the rationale for guidelines -- eg promoting consistency etc. Perhaps this should be specified as an outcome in the Charter for the workgroup."

This sounds like a good idea to me. I do consider the rationale to be somewhat self-evident, so my suggestion is that we keep it short and sweet, if we want it to actually be read.

*"Personally, I feel that style guidelines should be an incentive rather than a disincentive for collaboration --- We need to think carefully about the processes whereby we implement the style guidelines. Sadly, some wiki projects use style guidelines as a mechanism to reprimand newbies for not adhering to agreed process. I would love to see a wiki that tolerates experimentation and learning. Perhaps we need to think about a mechanism whereby primary authors opt into the style guidelines. For example -- a category or template which says "I want to improve my resource by adhering to style guidelines -- help!" rather than a witch hunt for pages that don't meet style guidelines. Basically if an author doesn't physically request style guideline compliance -- the style guide police should leave the page alone."

I'm not sure how the guidelines could be perceived as an incentive, other than for qualification for QAF awards. I do understand what you're saying about the wrist slapping of newbies, and I like your idea of making a tag available to the authors to self-address a need for help in that area. Even more experienced authors aren't going to know the best way to meet some of the guidelines.
I'm also going to be a little revolutionary, and suggest we purposely omit a reader-posted tag, because I think that deters from collaboration, promotes laziness, and creates a negative tone. What I do suggest is that we create an ongoing project that monitors the RC, part of their responsibilities being to look out for the style guidelines. We can add a caveat to the style guidelines that says, "If you aren't going to fix it yourself, leave it be, or add a note to the RC workgroup's talk page, suggesting the article be looked at." RC workgroup members would change anything they thought necessary, and leave a note on the talk page, saying why the change was made, and the author is welcome to discuss it or refuse it. If they refuse it, we can have a tag for the talk page that highlights the diff of the change that was refused.
I think that leaving it as an opt-in thing takes away from the importance of having the guidelines, and we need to account for the level of ignorance due to authors not wanting to take the time to research all the available guidelines and policies, which is totally understandable.

*"How do we incorporate the style guidelines with the QAF framework as an incentive?"

Personally, I think the style guidelines should be part of the requirements of the QAF award, but because of the subjective nature of some of the guidelines, there should have to be some sort of consensus by the award team that the guidelines have been met.

*"What training materials, resources do we need to support prospective style experts in our community?"

Part of the development of the guidelines should include adding them into the tutorials and skills training materials. Perhaps this should also be one of the outcomes in the charter? For the style experts, part of the writing of the guidelines would include examples of proper usage, and we could probably develop lists of proper language choices for guidelines that would need them.
07:04, 17 July 2009

Hi Jesse

I'm not sure how the guidelines could be perceived as an incentive, other than for qualification for QAF awards.

While somewhat abstract, I think we can develop and promote a WE culture of striving for quality as an incentive. That is, when users are ready to take this step, rather than policing poor "quality" because, for instance, ESL users may not have the language skills to adhere to our language conventions or may not have the technical skills to implement more sophisticated wiki syntax.

I'm also going to be a little revolutionary, and suggest we purposely omit a reader-posted tag, because I think that deters from collaboration, promotes laziness, and creates a negative tone.

I see your point regarding the risks associated with laziness or detering collaboration. Just checking here -- -I don't see this as a "reader-posted" tag but rather a primary author request to move to the next level of improving quality by adhering to style guidelines. Ideally -- this should be a process where authors can opt into improving their work by adhering to style guidelines. I think its better to have a scenario where WikiEducators can ask -- "How can I get my resource to look so good/impressive?" rather than "I'm embarrassed because the style-guideline police are doing a bunch of stuff on my page which I don't know how to implement". Style-guideline gurus could be pro-active and post invitations to assist with improving pages -- but we should allow freedom for users to do their own thing until they are ready for the next level. This is more of a process and implementation issue rather than the detail of the guidelines themselves. Clearly we will need to separate the process from the content of the guidelines as such.
We'll have enough work with folk opting to improvre the quality of their resources --- but I think we need to wait until they're ready for the ride :-)
Personally I don't see the opt-in scenario as taking away the importance of guidelines --- Educator's by nature want to do the right thing. Half our users are over 45 years old and are taking personal "risks", in most cases, publishing to the Internet for the first time in their lives. Having a stranger redirect or moving a page because it doesn't adhere to a style convention for naming pages can be a daunting experience -- particularly when you don't have the requisite wiki skills to understand how this works :-)
I think we need to be smarter than WP and figure out creative solutions regarding how we can deal with this challenge. The OER Foundation is committed to sourcing the funding we may need to implement technical solutions to achieve this aim.
If we do a good job, with corresponding tutorials training etc --- we'll promote the implementation of good style -- prevention is better than cure :-)

Personally, I think the style guidelines should be part of the requirements of the QAF award, but because of the subjective nature of some of the guidelines, there should have to be some sort of consensus by the award team that the guidelines have been met.

Yeah -- it seems that we would need to categorise the guidelines between "objective" & "subjective" guidelines. For example, the guideline on capitalisation for new pages is reasonably objective, whereas a guideline relating to proposed structure for hierarchy may vary according to subject discipline or preferred pedagogical approach. We'll need to think carefully about how we incorporate these requirements into the QAF.

Part of the development of the guidelines should include adding them into the tutorials and skills training materials. Perhaps this should also be one of the outcomes in the charter?

Agreed -- I think this should be specified as one of the outcomes in the charter.

20:44, 17 July 2009

I'm totally agreeing with what you say. What if we come up with a way our "gurus" can point out potential issues to authors?

16:22, 18 July 2009

Yeah --

I think we can come up with a smart way for our gurus to point out and help with potential issues -- eg templates that include links to resources and online training opportunities to improve style guide compliance.

This is coming together rather nicely :-)

17:00, 19 July 2009

A thought has occurred to me about applying style guidelines to WE pages. I think that we could divide WE pages into three types:

1. Core pages - pages which are part of WE proper - in other words not OER - for example, main page, tutorials and help pages, or workgoups. I would also apply this to some items such as page names or categories, which would affect the site as a whole.

2. Sponsored pages - I am using the word sponsor loosely, meaning associated with a specific school, project, or organization. My reason for considering these separate is that there may be conflicts between WE guidelines and those of the sponsoring group (for example, a country's QF), therefore some flexibility may be required.

3. OER's not in type 2, where more of Wayne's "experimentation and learning" could be done. These may allow opt-out's in whole or in part.

JohnWS 10:05, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

23:05, 17 July 2009

Hi John,

That's a useful classification framework :-) --Appreciate your contribution!

I think were dealing with at least two (possibly more) classification axis on the graph so to speak:

• Type of WE resource/page -- eg OER (lesson, handout, learning activity etc), project node (eg Country page, research collaboration or sponsored pages etc.)
• Maturity level of user --- eg 1) Beginner struggling with with wiki syntax 2) Early adopter developing a teaching resource for personal use 3) Mature WE seeking collaboration and community kudos

It seems to me that there are generic and objective guidelines like capitalisation on page new page names that could be applied across the wiki, spelling etc. - irrespective of the type of resource. Punctuation and preferred citation format would also fall into this category. That said do we create a guideline on spelling --- "American English" versus "UK English" etc. Perhaps we accommodate both?

The issue is do we "punish" a beginner for not adhering to objective style conventions by "intruding" on their space in the wiki or do we encourage the wider WikiEducator community to jump in an help out with "objective" style conventions?

There will also be more subjective style conventions, for example hierarchy of learning resources and sub-page structuring etc.

These are exciting times -- were pioneering new futures. A wiki dedicated to educational resources and supporting projects is an order of magnitude more complex than figuring out style guidelines for an encyclopaedia article :-)

Cheers

23:56, 17 July 2009

Wayne,

I agree with what you are saying about beginners. I do not think that WE should be aggressive and "punish" beginners or do anything else that causes people to leave WE. Indeed guidelines are just that guidelines - we do not won't a "style police". On the other hand beginner's can use the guideline as "guidance" if they are unsure about an issue. What we need is flexibility.

Cheers.

JohnWS 11:47, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

00:47, 18 July 2009

Well said :-)

What we need is flexibility --- now the challenge is to encapsulate this into our process documentation.

Cheers

01:18, 18 July 2009

Wayne,

I'm not sure we should classify by the knowledge/experience level of a user. I think this is too much of a grey continuum, and I'm not sure I would find it empowering, as a new user of WE, so much as a big rubber stamp on my forehead that says, "DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE'S DOING". There's really no way we can tell what the maturity level of the user is. He may be an expert at some things, but not do well at others. She may be brand new to WE, but know how to run MediaWiki with nothing but MySQL and php code. I've run my own MW wiki, but there's no WikiArtisan tag on my user page. Do you see what I mean?

I think we should wait to decide what to do with guidelines that don't or only apply to a certain classification until after we've proposed one. I think that's a sort of beast I couldn't predict, but I do think it's possible. I think we can lay the groundwork for it, but working on classifying the basic types of work done here (see my reply to john), and that should be sufficient, otherwise we may be in danger of putting boxes around 3 year olds.

16:14, 19 July 2009

Hi Jesse,

That's a valid point and excellent example :-) This also alludes to a gap we have in the WikiMaster certification typology -- namely a "Recognition of Prior Learning" (RPL) mechanism for new folk joining WE who want to opt in for the community certification typology ;-).

Extending the example - -just for illustration purposes -- we do not know how you feel about WikiArtisan certifications on your user page -- until such time as the user say's --- Yes, I would like to have my skill level "recognised" by a tag on my user page.

I do agree -- we can't decide what to do with guidelines until we've proposed them and thought about their application and implementation.

I sense that we're all on the same page here with regards to respect for individuals and the diversity of their experience. I sense a high level of consensus in that WE should continue to be a welcoming and supportive environment for newbies finding their way with the "complexities" of wiki technology and challenges of developing educational materials.

Lets continue and figure out the best ways to develop and implement style guides for our community :-)

16:57, 19 July 2009

John,

Core pages: These are pages that are not in the main or user namespace, and at the moment, I can't really think of any instance in which they require more, less or different guidelines.

Sponsored pages and otherwise: I'm not sure this is the way I would want to classify the different sorts of projects going on. If you look at the "Style and content types" conversation on this page, you'll see that I'm thinking of classifications more along the lines of "solo", "private collaboration", and "open collaboration". Private collaboration would be the sorts of things you describe as "sponsored", and then I break down the rest even more into work the author doesn't want any help with, and work the author(s) want everyone's help with.

Now, solo work, and I really don't think I'll change my mind on this, belongs in a subpage of the author's user page. The namespace already holds the meaning that nobody should touch it but the guy whose name is on it. Why not use the assumption as an advantage, instead of other tedious methods of designating the work as solo? The work can still be categorised, and there are lots of tools to deal with the cumbersome titles.

It was that idea that led me to think that we can use other namespaces for the very same advantage. The main namespace already very clearly and traditionally says, "everyone's", so that fulfills the needs of that sort of classification. But, we don't have an "ours" namespace, so I think we should make one. I'm not coming up with any good names for it... any ideas?

15:58, 19 July 2009