Association of Structurist Wikipedians

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While Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it is not static — it is a wiki, constantly changing.

We should therefore write not only with present readers in mind, but with future editors in mind too; greater structure helps on both counts. For example, section headings make it easier to find information in an article, and easier for other editors to add information without sacrificing the article's flow.

While Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it is displayed on screens, not paper. Screens have their own readability constraints.

Our motto: Making space for data.


This fractal represents the vast potential that can be realized with cogent structure.
Why can't JohnnyBot read?
It may be because you deprived him of structure and semantics. Until bots become sentients, bots and sentients can complement each other's efforts.
  • We support well-enumerated structure at every level of Wikimedia.
  • Information that's useless when isolated (or when "thrown into a pile" of undifferentiated information) can become illuminating when made part of a logical structure.
  • However, we discourage merging of articles with "non-redundant" content. Combining too much information in a single article discourages users from forging ahead with more detail and new ways of looking at the topic at hand.
  • We frown upon excessive deletion. Nascent stubs or sentences may contain ideas that through grooming and structuring have the potential to grow into cogent, informative articles.
  • We support short sections, paragraphs, and sentences, for the reason listed in the previous tenet (that is, extensibility), and also for usability—real (evidence-based[1]) usability rather than just prescriptive ideas of it. Writing should be designed when possible to anticipate the user's mode and motive of use.[2] Most users of web content, in most instances, don't read carefully; they skim and spot-read. "Plowing the text" (the most basic model of reading behavior, which most writing implicitly assumes is the commonest one) takes too long and is thus reserved for content of especial interest. When people read novels for fun, they want long passages of undifferentiated prose. When they are trying to quickly absorb work-related information about a topic that they barely care about, they want structure, which helps their skimming. Thus TOCs, headings, links, cross-refs, and tables are prized. One corollary is that "<ul> and <ol> are your friends." Nesting lists is also often logically appropriate.
  • We support clear, plain language. "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." (Thomas Jefferson) But we also recognize that precision of thought can be supportive to structure, and that brevity can be a form of "cognitive mergism" if fetishized, that is, if not balanced against due precision. "[The] supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience." (Albert Einstein) In other words, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
  • In general, the more structure content has, the more machine-readable it is. Machine readability has many potential benefits, only some of which have been conceived or exploited to date. Structurism improves the machine readability of today's content, and it builds containers to accept tomorrow's, even if those containers are currently mostly empty. Of course, human readability benefits from structure, too, as described above.

A Third Way[edit]

Structurism is like Mergism in that it exists outside the inclusionism/deletionism debate, or tries to provide a solution to that debate. However, Structurism is also broadly opposed to Mergism because merged articles can be wearyingly long and provide little breathing room for future expansion.

Useful tools and resources[edit]


Please see Association of Structurist Wikipedians/Members. Feel free to add yourself.

Promotion and Userbox[edit]

To promote and show your affiliation with this association on your UserPage, add {{Template:User structurist}} to display this Userbox:

Asw1.jpg This User Is a Member of the Association of Structurist Wikipedians

It can be combined into other language Userboxes. For example: {{babel-2|en|structurist}}

You can also use [[Category:Structurist Wikipedians]] to add only the category without the box.

See also[edit]