Wikimedia Blog/Guidelines

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This guide is intended to assist you, a member of the Wikimedia community, through the Wikimedia blog's process and in properly framing your post so that it is concise, readable, and achieves its goal(s).

If you have any questions, ask digitalmedia@wikimedia.org, which reaches everyone on the blog team.

The Wikimedia blog is run by the Wikimedia Foundation. We publish announcements from the organization, alongside news and stories from around the Wikimedia movement. Our audience includes long-time Wikimedians, librarians, Wikimedia Foundation staff members, teachers, journalists, editors, coders, donors, and people across the greater information ecosystem. Ideally, your topic will bring a unique and unusual perspective to initiatives and happenings on Wikimedia projects from around the world, with an emphasis on high impact and public interest.

We value a diversity of voices and positions, and aim to publish stories on a wide variety of topics. You don’t have to be a project lead, or manager, or Wikimedia Foundation employee, or even in the movement for a long time to draft a post. If you’ve got an idea that you think will help the Wikimedia movement, we’d love to hear it.

Who are we?[edit]

The digital media team* is led by Melody Kramer, and is composed of her, Aubrie Johnson, Ed Erhart, and Samir Elsharbaty. You can reach us all at digitalmedia@wikimedia.org.

* As of September 2018

Blog mission brief[edit]

By 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us. The Wikimedia blog helps to advance that effort by giving individuals inside or allied to the Wikimedia movement a central space to share what they've learned, what they've made, and what they do in an accessible, public way.

We work in the open, sharing information that makes our work—and the work of the broader free and open knowledge movement—understandable and usable.

Our blog is a platform for highlighting the diversity and humanity of our community. We are a thoughtful, global organization, and we acknowledge the value of emphasizing that to our readers.

In summary, our goals are:

  • To support and highlight the excellent work being done by the Wikimedia community, Wikimedia Foundation staff, and the wider free knowledge ecosystem and to explain how that work supports the free and open knowledge movement
  • To strengthen our partnerships with other organizations
  • To strengthen our relationships with the public and people who might want to join the Wikimedia Foundation or contribute to our projects
  • To promote the Wikimedia vision for a world where everyone can freely share in the sum of all knowledge

Our editorial voice[edit]

Our publications adhere to these blogging guidelines, promoting a unified style while sharing a multitude of voices. The Wikimedia Foundation’s blog team determines editorial strategy and the drafting and editing processes. All blog content supports and reflects the larger mission of our movement.

Authors on the blog typically include, but are not limited to, Wikimedia Foundation staff, Wikimedia affiliates, Wikimedian volunteers, and various individuals affiliated with like-minded organizations.

How to get your post published[edit]

Every post goes through six stages before it appears on our blog. Blog posts can be drafted on Meta, in Google Docs, or in Open Office; editing is then managed by the team and posts are scheduled on our editorial calendar.

We use six stages to manage each blog post.

  1. Idea
  2. Idea approved
  3. Author writes post
  4. Editing
  5. Scheduling
  6. Published

In this section, we'll walk you through each of these steps.

Idea: How do I create a new post?[edit]

Every blog post starts out with an idea, and we ask you to come to us at this stage of the process. Send an email to digitalmedia@wikimedia.org with your idea and we’ll review it and see if it can make for a workable blog post.[1] It doesn’t need to be a full idea—we can help you with that part. These are the questions we’d like to to answer or come prepared to think through with us:

  • What is the goal of this blog post? (What outcomes are you hoping to achieve?)
  • Who is the audience for this post?
  • Who needs to approve this post (if applicable)?
  • Image ideas, if you have them. We require at least one freely licensed images, with a minimum width of 1024 pixels and usually (but not always) from Wikimedia Commons. (Leave screenshots and graphs for the middle of the post, please!)
  • A basic outline.
  • Ideas for title and summary (title should be descriptive, catchy, and in the present tense)
  • Deadline or intended publication date, if the post needs to go out in a certain timeframe. Please get in touch with us at least two weeks before any deadlines.
  • Social copy: What is the one-line way to describe your post on social media? Are there any social handles we should include when putting your material out on @wikimedia? And are there any spaces online that we should socialize your post after publication?

Note: We do not want you to send a complete blog draft in your opening email. And if you don’t know the answers to these questions, do not worry! That’s why we’re here—to help ensure that you are reaching your intended audience with the content that will help you reach your goal.

Idea approved[edit]

We meet on a daily basis to go over incoming proposals. This process usually takes 2–3 business days, depending on how much is in our backlog. If we accept your idea, we have a few ways to publish incoming material:

  • Blog post: Blog posts are typically between 500–800 words. They have a clear audience and goal, a general connection to the Wikimedia Foundation's or Wikimedia movement's mission, and a complete outline with a beginning, middle, and end—with a call to action, if possible.  They can be a Q&A, a numbered list, a series of short paragraphs, or something else entirely. (We will talk this through with you.) Some blog posts may be cross-posted on our Medium publication, which helps us connect with people outside of the Wikimedia ecosystem.
  • Community digest: Strong topics relevant to the community, that don't need as many words, can be put into the community digest, a feature that pulls together items from around the globe to provide a venue for community updates and a diverse roundup of events. It aims to emulate and supplement already-existing community news outlets.
  • Social media:  There may be ideas that are more suitable to a short message on one of our social media platforms, aimed at or targeted to a particular audience.
  • Elevating or amplifying your content published elsewhere: If you’ve published material elsewhere, we can talk through ways to amplify your message on our platforms or elsewhere.

Once we approve your content, we’ll send you an email confirming what form it will take and then you can start writing!

Author writes post[edit]

Write your post! If necessary, please create a copy of our Google Doc template or follow the steps listed on our main Meta page. We have a list of sample posts that you can look at for inspiration or specific ways to structure your post.

Editing[edit]

We will work with you to edit your blog post and give suggestions or advice. We may ask you to send us sourcing material, or other material to ensure that the post is factually accurate. We will work with you to resolve any outstanding issues, and to make sure that your post is readable for a general audience. When these edits are finalized, we will add a comment to your document, move the document into the approval process, and set a date for it to be scheduled.[2]

Scheduling[edit]

We maintain a private editorial calendar to schedule upcoming posts. This schedule is subject to frequent changes, based on other content in the pipeline and the approval process. Please let us know if you have any deadlines we should know about. At this step, we also need to finalize images.

Published[edit]

When your post is published, we’ll send you an email with the link and share it on our social media accounts.

Outlines for topics[edit]

Grand idea product launch[edit]

  • What we launched
  • The problem we addressed
    • Include brief background information on problem
  • How we solved the problem
  • One interesting fact about the development process
  • What’s next
  • Call to action

One detail product launch[edit]

  • What we launched
    • But I want to focus on this one detail
  • Explanation of detail and why it’s interesting
  • Connection to larger team goals or objectives
  • Summary of other things people can find in the product
  • Call to action to explore product or otherwise engage

Product update[edit]

  • What’s the new feature
  • Link and summary of previous work
  • Deeper explanation of the feature
  • Explanation of either an interesting technical detail of the feature or an important step in the development of the feature
  • Connect the feature back to the team goals or product goals
  • Next steps for the team

One thing I learned[edit]

  • Brief explanation of your project and your work on that project
  • Introduction of interesting thing(s) you learned
  • Further explanation of what you learned
  • The impact this thing had on your work
  • How this is relevant to other projects/teams
  • Point to documentation or artifact if it exists
  • Question or call to action

How this really complicated topic works[edit]

  • An example or metaphor that helps people understand just what you're talking about (Example: You can think of linked data as a garden full of flowers and trees, each with a name, or envision remote developer access as a set of special keys to open your apartment.)
  • Take a step back: explain, generally, how it fits into our movement.
  • Connection to larger outcome or goal.
  • Why it’s important
  • Conclusion

Technical explanation[edit]

  • Explanation of the topic or feature this technical explanation applies to
  • Your goal in developing this technical fix
  • What you did
  • Why you did it
  • How this has positively impacted your project
  • Connection to larger outcome or goal
  • How this can be reused outside your project
  • Call to reuse/adapt

Community profile[edit]

  • Interesting anecdote or compelling lede that details something about person, preferably quoted in their own words
  • What the person has done that is interesting
  • Why it’s interesting or important
  • How it relates to our movement or goals
  • Conclusion

Photo contest winners[edit]

  • Highlight one or several photos from the contest, with backstory from the photographer
  • Talk about contest and overall goals
  • Why it’s interesting or important
  • Where people can learn more or participate in the next contest
  • Conclusion

How to/guide[edit]

  • What this guide will teach you
  • Who this guide is useful for
  • Summary of guide content
    • Multiple headings, paragraphs with bolded intros, or a bulleted list are best
    • Concise explanations with code samples if applicable
    • Downloadable artifacts if applicable
  • Why we think this type of information is useful
    • And how it’s improved our projects
  • Call to action and links to additional resources

Announcement of new policy[edit]

  • Announcement of new change
  • 2 additional important details
  • How this change fits into larger mission or goals
  • Additional small or technical details
  • Thanks, connection back to policy and moving forward

Cultural explanation[edit]

  • Brief explanation of cultural value and why it’s good
  • The cultural idea or practice you want to talk about
  • How this came about
  • How we do this in practice
  • The positive effects we’ve seen
  • Next steps or ways we want to refine this practice
  • Question for readers

Organizational announcement / important change in the world and how it affects us[edit]

  • Brief explanation of announcement—what do you want people to take away from this?
  • How this change fits into larger mission or goals of team or organization
  • Additional small or technical details
  • Connection back to movement and conclusion

Highlight innovative work in our ecosystem[edit]

  • Who, what, when of someone doing something incredibly innovative
  • Why it’s important or noteworthy
  • Additional details
  • How people can learn more

Great interview questions[edit]

  • How did you come up with that idea?
  • What inspired you to do [X]?
  • What are your next steps?
  • Can you detail how [Wikimedia project] helped you do [X]?

How to write a great post[edit]

Writing for the Wikimedia Blog should follow these general guidelines.

Write short over long[edit]

Keep in mind: the blog is not a Wikipedia article. Complex topics deserve complex stories, but too long a blog post will drive readers away. Summary style is ideal; your post is akin to the lead section of a Wikipedia article, not the article itself. You can always link to external resources where possible to satisfy the uncommonly curious reader. Aim for a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 1,000 words—whatever is necessary to explain the topic without going into unnecessary detail, which can be left to external pages. Shorter items can be put into the community digest.

Remember accessibility[edit]

If you include charts or graphs, make sure that the colors are accessible. We also try to include alternative text, when featuring images.

Use clear, concise, concrete language[edit]

There is a lot of complexity under the hood of the Wikimedia movement, as well as a lot of abstract ideas. The Wikimedia Blog exists to distill all of that into meaningful information for a wide variety of audiences. Many other sites, particularly Meta-Wiki, exist for delving into the complexity and nuance. Being clear and succinct demonstrates respect for your audience’s time.

Assume nothing about the background knowledge or interests of the reader[edit]

Someone coming to this site might know nothing about the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia projects, or may have been wildly misinformed. Visitors may know a lot or a little about wikis, open source, or the free knowledge movement. While the primary audiences are those in need of an introduction, many will seek a pointer to deeper information. Always look for opportunities to summarize quickly and create paths to deeper information.

Be careful with humor and overall tone[edit]

Content on the Wikimedia Blog should be accessible and inviting to everyone. Wikimedians share a lot of fantastic in-jokes, which can be tempting to share. While humor can be an important and enjoyable part of being and sounding human, cultural differences and the lack of shared background information can quickly turn jokes into barriers.

Attribution[edit]

All images used on the Wikimedia Blog must be freely licensed and have proper attribution. For screenshots of Wikipedia articles, this will include attributing the text and license (CC BY-SA 3.0), along with separate attributions for any images included in the screenshot.[3]

Miscellania[edit]

Tagging / Categories[edit]

Categories and tags allow us to organize our blog posts, and they provide readers with an easy way to explore a particular topic. They're also useful for sending a collection of posts to someone with a single link. To keep tags useful, we aim to include only necessary tags and to apply only a minimum of tags to any single post. We usually come up with these ourselves, but you are welcome to propose some or all of them if you'd prefer.

Authorship[edit]

The authors listed on a blog post should be only the people who have actively contributed significant portions of text to the blog post. Generally, posts should only be written by one or two people. Limiting the number of people who write a post makes it feel more personal and less written by committee, allows for a stronger voice in the writing, and helps speed up the editing and approval process.

Team members who contributed editing, criticism, quotes, images, or small amounts of text should not be included as authors. You should also not include people as authors if they worked on a project but did not write the post. If there are people who contributed to a project or who helped make a blog post a reality (for example, by helping with idea generation, design, or editing), you can thank them with an italicized sentence at the bottom of the post.

Disclaimer: unless a post is signed by the Wikimedia Foundation, the views and opinions expressed on the blog are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views or opinions of the Wikimedia Foundation as an organization.

No authors[edit]

On occasion, it can be useful to have posts written by the Wikimedia Foundation as an organization rather than as an individual. We may use this for press releases, announcements, or posts that explain fundamental concepts of our culture where many team members contributed writing and editing. Posts with the Wikimedia Foundation as an author have a more formal and authoritative tone and are about statements of policy or fact rather than opinions.

Acknowledgements[edit]

Our thanks to 18F and its public domain blogging guide, which we have used in several areas here.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Unfortunately, sometimes we get too many submissions to take them all, and not every idea can be made into a workable blog post, but we try our best to work with authors whenever we can.
  2. Very rarely, there could be a situation where we are not able to publish a post after seeing the draft for some reason. If that happens, we’ll try to work with you to fix the problem, but we do reserve the right not to publish something if we don’t think it’s right for the Wikimedia blog.
  3. If you're also uploading the screenshots to Commons, you should probably tag those images with Template:Wikimedia-screenshot. For the purposes of the blog, Jon Robson's post on "Why it took a long time to build that tiny link preview on Wikipedia" is a great example of good (if unusually extensive) crediting for a screenshot.