Wikipedia:WikiProject Outlines/Helpful tips

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Procedures and tips[edit]

Outline creation[edit]

Templates

This project's main procedure is the creation of outline articles. There are various templates that provide a good "skeleton" off which the outline can be expanded. The default is Template:Topic outline. Instructions on how to use it is included with it. Additionally, a template exists called Template:Topic outline country which was used to create a topic outline for every country of the World.

When starting an outline, it is advisable to first create a draft under the name "Wikipedia:WikiProject Outline of Knowledge/Drafts/Outline of subject". There have been instances in the past where rudimentary outlines created in article space have been proposed for deletion at WP:AFD, as was the case for the Outline of Canada, as well as for the Outline of mining. If working on a sparse outline that already exists in article space, be sure to place a {{under construction}} template at the top of it to avoid the risk of deletion. This is also advisable if one is completely revamping an outline over a series of edits. Also take care to assure that incomplete outlines have the Category:Incomplete outlines instead of Category:Outlines at the bottom, especially when starting out with the general template.

The complete list of established, draft, and prospective outlines is at WP:PROL.

Determining scope

One of the more challenging aspects of developing an outline is determining an appropriate scope, or depth, of the topic. By making too narrow of an outline one runs the risk of failing to define the true extent of the topic, but by making too broad of an outline there is the chance of the topic's basic core being obscured. Either way, the topic's relevance will be lost to the average reader.

For example, the majority of applied sciences are interdisciplinary and apply principles from a wide variety of scientific fields. Including links to articles for all (if not most) of the principles would not only be an exhaustive task but could also cause the average reader to incorrectly assume the linked article's exclusivity to the topic. In forestry, genetic cultivars are often used in plantations in attempt to assure adequate tree growth. Despite this, it would be illogical to include cultivars in the outline of forestry, on the basis that it is a horticultural aspect (which is itself an example of applied genetics), relatively of very minor importance to the topic, and covered in an article that is included in the outline.

Here are some questions one could ask thyself when deciding whether or not to include an article link in an outline:

  • Is this article directly relevant to the topic? Would it make more sense in a different outline linked to in the "allied sciences/fields" or "see also" section(s)?
  • If I included this article, would I need to include subsidiary articles to explain its relevance that are defnitely no related to the subject?

Finally, whether in doubt or throughout, use common sense.

Assembling an hierarchy

A good way to start determining the hierarchy of outline article is by studying the topic's categories and subcategories. If done correctly per WP:CAT, categories can provide a logical structure after which the outlines can be modeled, and is especially helpful is one is not overly familiar with the topic.

Outline maintenance[edit]

Information may become out of date, and when it does it needs to be updated. For example, the population and area figures presented in the country outlines.

Wikipedia is constantly expanding, and as coverage on a subject expands, so too should its topic outline. For each topic outline, a search for articles on its subject should be conducted periodically, and links to topics added to the outline. If there are too many of a particular type of link, for example, the cities in a particular country, a link should be provided to a list of them rather than listing them all in the outline itself.

Special considerations[edit]

Countries or other geographic regions[edit]

In addition to starting or maintaining the article in the generally accepted style through Template:Topic outline country

Sciences[edit]

Scientific outlines can be particularly hard to develop, given their (usually) highly technical nature and interrelated basis of shared knowledge. For this reason, extra care must be taken to ensure a balance between comprehensiveness and clarity.

A science can be defined as one that is able to be verified via the scientific method, which entails verification of natural phenomena through repeated experimentation. Most modern sciences are based on a set of "core" principles that are practically considered fact in the given scientific community. These can range from mathematic equations (for example the Avogadro constant is constantly used in molecular chemistry) to scientific theories (the principles of evolution/natural selection are a basis for all ecological sciences). These should be included in the outline to illustrate the basis for the science's development.

Layout

Examples of some sections and subsections that could be included are:

  • Measurement tools – physical tools that are often used in the field to quantify a measurement
  • Modeling – useful if the science is one that uses or is studied by models, could be further divided by the type of phenomena being studied or the type of equation, for example