User:Jarry1250/Guide to headings
If you're reading this page, the chances are that you've followed the link from an edit summary left by my bot, LivingBot, when it tided up the headlines in an article you were monitoring.
Here are the basic guidelines to which the bot was trying to make the article conform:
- Articles should start with a level two headline (e.g. ==Early life==) that does not equate merely to the title of the article.
- When the headline level is increased, it should only be done in steps of one (e.g. ==Biography== then ===Early life===, rather than ==Biography== then ====Early life====);
- Standard appendices at the end of articles will inevitably require a level two headline, except where other synonymous terms are already in use in the article, suggesting a subdivided layout.
- People expect certain appendices to use standard, easily recognised headings. Thus, one should not use "Also see" but "See also"; not "Weblinks" (common in transwikied articles) but "External links". Use of otherwise widespread terms such as "Footnotes", "Notes" and "References" should not be exchanged for another merely out of personal preference, however.
What LivingBot does
All the bot does is look at the header outline of the page - in terms of numbers of equals signs (say 2-2-3-5-5-2-2-2) - and then smooth out the bumps (to 2-2-3-4-4-2-2-2) thus preserving the Table of Contents. It will also standardise the names of certain headings (i.e. standard appendices). Other than that minor issue, the bot will always assume a human is right: they laid out the article correctly, it's just the wikicode behind it that the bot will improve.
What LivingBot doesn't do
The bot does not move sections around. The bot will not judge an article; nor will it change the article from using one commonly-used system to another.
But that's worse!
Occasionally, the nature of the problem means that the bot does not fix things correctly. The best idea is to fix it properly (as in, changing it so that the article both looks as intended and follows the guidelines above), and in any related articles. I would be happy to hear if you have a suggestion for avoiding the problem in future.
Disagreements with guidelines
A few things to consider before writing to me to disagree with the idea that headings should be incremented by one level each time:
- Accessibility. As one of the biggest and universally useful sites on the internet, Wikipedia is viewed by thousands of people using screen readers and other equipment. Per the W3C (who are responsible for the happy running of the internet as a whole), not using singularly incremented heading levels damages the level off service those visitors get. Is that really fair? Might it be best to tweak your own style settings, rather than ruining the experience for these people?
- Consistency. Look for other articles. Do these have heading levels that jump around? Do any featured articles?
- Expectations. What do visitors expect to see?
Any questions or bug reports may be sent straight to me. Thanks for reading!