Wikimedia Blog/Guidelines

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Home Guidelines Drafts Social media

Welcome to the Wikimedia blog's guidelines. The blog is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, publishing announcements from the organization and news from around the Wikimedia movement. We are looking for intriguing post ideas from community members that will interest our readership, which is primarily from outside the movement. Ideally, your idea 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.

Summary[edit]

Contact[edit]

If you see any problems with the blog or have any questions, please send an email to blogteam@wikimedia.org or, if needed, directly to Ed Erhart (eerhart@wikimedia.org).

Team[edit]

The blog team* is led by Ed Erhart, who reports to Jeff Elder. Aubrie Johnson, Juliet Barbara, and Samantha Lien also work with the team.

* As of July 2016

In brief: what to do[edit]

  1. Please email Ed Erhart with for community news! Strong tips there are fed into the community digest, which we publish every few weeks and send out to the movement. We'd love to have 100 words from you with items like a promising new event, an innovative new idea, news from around the Wikimedia world, or tangible results from a impactful initiative.
  2. Other ideas should be emailed to blogteam@wikimedia.org—or, if needed, directly to Ed Erhart (eerhart@wikimedia.org)—before you start writing anything. Thank you!

In detail: how it works[edit]

  1. When you have an idea for a post, please email the blog team at blogteam@wikimedia.org—or, if needed, directly to Ed Erhart. We try to consider ideas before they are written to make sure that our readership will find your post appealing and informative. Doing this prevents us from turning down a post that someone has spent a significant amount of time on and (possibly) allows us to point you to other news outlets around the movement that may be more suitable.
    • Not all posts, however, will be suitable for a full article. Before proposing and writing, you should consider if it's worth sharing in a post—it must have a topic wide enough for general interest, and in most cases will have a clear idea or theme running through the entire text. We need a story, ideas, and enough details to cover the story without overwhelming a reader.
    • If the topic is strong, we will put it 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. Please place these thoughts on our tip line or, if needed, email them to Ed Erhart.
  2. When your idea is approved, please let us know when you have finished writing the post. We will review it and get back to you within a week with suggested changes. When all sides agree, we will publish it; specific date requests are possible.

Top-line requirements[edit]

We encourage everyone to write posts in their own voice as appropriate to the topic on a Wikimedia Foundation blog. Within that flexibility, we have three requirements:

  1. Quality: Your post must adhere to basic standards of grammar, clarity, professionalism, and accuracy, as assessed by the Foundation's communications team. Most posts should make a serious attempt to appeal to a broad audience of both Wikimedians and non-Wikimedians alike. These is more guidance on this below.
  2. No blatant promotion: We understand the blog is a good place to announce projects and encourage participation; we even frequently do this ourselves. But this must stop short of outright promotion. Explain your project rather than praising it.
  3. Process: Inform us of a post as early as possible; provide one point person to work with; work with us on distinct drafts. Multiple authors contacting us with ongoing changes will result in us having to set aside your post.

Examples[edit]

These are examples of posts that you could model yours off of, although it is still very much a work in progress and we need to add more. While many are about the English Wikipedia, we are happy to run posts about other major Wikimedia sites as long as they are translated (if they are in a non-English language). Please keep in mind the advice below, particularly about writing.

What does the perfect post look like?[edit]

There are several components to a perfect post, but the best tell a story and make a gentle argument—what makes your topic special and important? Our readers have a range of experience with the Wikimedia projects, but most have little knowledge of how things work "behind the scenes," and come from outside the movement.

Your aim is to provide an outline of the topic at hand that readers will connect with and might react positively to.

  1. The inverted pyramid.
    Structure: We prefer posts written in the inverted pyramid style. You can think of it as "a simple triangle with one side drawn horizontally at the top and the body pointing down.” Essentially, the guideline says you should cover the most important and most attractive content at the very start of the article, ideally within the first two to three paragraphs. It is difficult to understate the importance of your first few paragraphs. This is where you need to hook your reader, recalling that the majority of our readers are not Wikimedians or community members. In the following paragraphs, include more background information on the subject, or the people involved with it. Once you’re finished writing in this way, feel free to just stop—only a few posts truly need a floral conclusion.
  2. Length: 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. Be as focused as you can, and try to keep redundancy and "fluff" to a minimum.
  3. Style: The blog is not a Wikipedia article. Wherever possible, we are moving away from encyclopedic recounting, site reports, generic announcements, or press releases, although there will be inevitable exceptions, like around Wikimania (for example). We look for compelling ideas from around the movement that showcase and celebrate our knowledge, diversity, and appeal; posts should be focused (yet detailed) and usually aimed at a general public audience of both Wikimedians and non-Wikimedians. Where conflicting, please aim for the latter; exceptions can be made for certain posts.
    1. Try to avoid words and phrases that are specific to any one culture or area.
    2. As the blog is viewed by the media as being an official arm of the Wikimedia Foundation, we avoid posts with personal perspectives that disagree significantly with the organization's strategic priorities. This, of course, may change in the future; in the interim, there are several other community news outlets around the movement, like the Signpost, Kurier, or RAW.
  4. Title: Your post should be led by an appealing title, one that encompasses your specific topic without going into unnecessary detail. The title is there to hook readers into a story, not to tell the story itself. Keeping search engine optimization keywords in mind may help boost the number of people who click on and read your post. You should use the present tense whenever possible.
    1. Oppose Bad: Update on offline app
    2. Support Good: Offline Wikipedia app gets new download manager
  5. Lead: Lead sentences should be strong, explaining the most salient and important point of your story. Tell the reader upfront what they are getting into and make them want to continue reading! The first two paragraphs should answer as many of the Five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) as possible. Titles and leads are critically important, and you should aim to have them be understandable by a public, non-Wikimedian reader.
  6. Writing: Posts should be in a nearly final form when submitted, as we can no longer invest significant amounts of paid staff time in rewriting posts. Pages like Tony1's How to improve your writing and redundancy exercises may help improve your post. No emoticons will be accepted.
  7. Hyperlinks: Avoid "see here" or any similar construction. Be descriptive of what you are linking to! Please link to relevant previous blog posts as well.
    1. Oppose Bad: Click here to see our results.
    2. Support Good: Our results indicate that…
  8. Images: Images are just as important as titles, and the so-called "hero image" that leads your posts is what will be posted on the front page and picked up in any social media share.
    1. We prefer that the images will be on Wikimedia Commons, but at minimum they must be freely licensed.
    2. Images with a landscape orientation fit better on the front page; we do not lead blog posts with logos, tables, charts, or graphs except in exceptional cases.
    3. If you are submitting a photo-centric post, such as a list of photo contest winners, please try to get permission from the photographers to use their images on social media. Due to the restrictive nature of the terms of service on some social media sites, at the present time we can only post public domain images or those we have permission to use.

Other considerations[edit]

  1. Translation: The blog is multilingual: while we publish exclusively in English, we welcome translations of any post—especially those that focus on non-English speaking areas. When drafting a post, you can include a translation anywhere as long as we can copy/paste it to the blog. Please note that we need translations of everything, including the title, summary, body, image captions, and author affiliation(s).
    1. If you've used a Google Doc to draft your post, please feel free to put the translation in the same doc, but do not use wiki markup.
    2. If you've drafted your post on Meta, you can include translations on the same page, or make the draft page into a translatable page using the Translate extension. The <tvar> code hides links so they do not get translated. Each tvar hidden title must be different.
    <translate>NORMAL TEXT ...... [[<tvar|identifier-of-hidden-link>random link</>|random link text]]</translate>

Scheduling[edit]

We try to schedule posts to run soon after they are in a final and completed form. Requests for specific dates are accepted—please let us know via email.

Social media[edit]

See also: Social media best practices

We frequently tweet about new posts from the Wikimedia Foundation's official Twitter handle, @Wikimedia. Some posts will also be shared from the Wikipedia accounts on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like a tweet from a specific account the Foundation owns, such as @Wikicommons or @Wikisource, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate. You can follow along with social media proposals via the public social media mailing list at social-media@lists.wikimedia.org.


Note: these guidelines will be examined and revised as needed to reflect new or emerging practices and workflows.