MEpedia:Discussion and collaboration

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history
(Redirected from Help:Discussion)
  • MEpedia:Talk

Since editing MEpedia articles is by its nature a collaborative endeavor, it is important that editors understand the proper ways to discuss and collaborate with other editors. Discussion and collaboration takes place on our discussion pages, which are the main form of communication within MEpedia.

Discussion, or talk, pages are a way for contributors to discuss changes if they need advice on an edit they are considering, if they have concerns about a change that's been made, or to work together to draft language for an article. Every MEpedia article has its own discussion page for discussing changes to that page. Each editor has their own discussion page for more personalized discussion. Finally, there is a discussion forum page for general discussions about MEpedia.

Where to start a discussion

  • Article’s discussion page. If you have a question or comment about a particular MEpedia article, it is often best to leave your question or comment on that article’s discussion page, even if your question will be directed to a particular contributor. Others who have the page on their watchlist may have valuable input to contribute. Other contributors can also be explicitly invited to a new discussion.
  • User’s discussion page. If you have a question or comment for a specific contributor that's not limited to one article, it is best to leave your question or comment on that contributor's discussion page. Be sure that you are adding it to their User Discussion page (e.g. User talk:Pyrrhus) rather than editing their User Page (e.g. User:Pyrrhus).

Note: While contributors who do not have an MEpedia account do not have user pages, they do have a discussion page associated with their IP address and you may leave them a message there. However, bear in mind that IP addresses often change without warning, so the user may not see your message to the old IP address's discussion page. (This is a good reason for all users to create an account!)

  • Discussion Forum / Help desk. If you have a question or comment that is not limited to one article or one editor, you can use the Discussion Forum / Help Desk. This is a discussion page for general discussions about MEpedia, as well as a help desk for editors to seek help from other editors. Remember that contributor availability can vary significantly, so do not be offended if it takes a while for someone to respond.

  • Administrator's discussion page. If you need input or assistance that requires an administrator, you can choose an administrator from the list of administrators at Special:ListUsers/sysop, and then make sure that your chosen administrator is still active by consulting the list of active users at Special:ActiveUsers. Finally, leave a message on that administrator's discussion page.

How to use a discussion page

To use a discussion page, click the "Discussion" tab at the top left of the page.

  • If no one has discussed anything on the page before, you will see a blank page. Click the “Add topic” tab to start the first discussion.
  • If the discussion page already exists, you'll see the preceding discussions. Check to see if your question has been addressed!
  • To respond to a discussion under way, add your comment below the comment you wish to reply to.
  • To start a new discussion, click the "Add topic" tab: this opens a new discussion at the bottom of the page.
Note: If you start a new discussion manually, please make sure to add your new topic at the bottom of the page to keep discussion in chronological order.

Discussion formatting 101

Writing in a discussion page uses the source editor and so requires certain symbols called "wikitext". Don't worry: a few formatting tricks and you'll be on your way!

  • Discussions are threaded using colons (":") to indent each new line. If you're responding to an existing discussion, indent your comment by adding one colon more than the number used in the comment you're replying to (i.e. the first comment won't be indented; but the second comment will use one colon, then if you're the third person to comment, use two colons). If you start a second paragraph, make sure to indent that as well. This indentation keeps the conversation thread readable.
  • If you don't use a colon (":") to start a new line, you can start a new line with "<br>". If you don't have a colon or "<br>" at the beginning of the new line, it may show up as a continuation of the last paragraph, not as a new paragraph.
  • To invite another contributor to join the discussion, you can link to that contributor’s page by putting "User:" in front of the contributor's name, and placing that inside double brackets "[[" "]]". For example,
    Inviting contributor [[User:Pyrrhus]] to the discussion.
    Depending on the contributor's notification settings, this generally sends them an alert. When deciding whom to invite to the discussion, you can find out who has recently edited the page by clicking on "View History" at the top of the page being discussed.

Note: If you're commenting on a user's discussion page, there's no need to leave this link; they will get a ‘new message’ notification automatically.

  • Always end your comment with four tilde characters "~~~~", which signs your name and a timestamp to the comment. Alternatively, you may be able to just click the 'Signature' button above the editing window, if the button is visible.

Save the page and you're done!

Discussion etiquette

On discussion pages, exercise caution before editing, reformatting, or deleting others' comments. Generally no one will take offense to minor changes which make sure a discussion is properly threaded and new topics are added chronologically. But when in doubt, defer to the way the original contributor presented their comment. (Unambiguous vandalism excepted.) On your own user discussion page, you are more free to organize or delete material as you like.

Archiving old discussions

If a discussion page becomes too long to read or use effectively, old discussions can be archived. See MEpedia:Archiving for more information.

How to collaborate with other editors

  • MEpedia:Collaboration

This section describes best practices for collaboration among editors.

Be nice and be respectful

In order to have constructive collaboration, all discussions at MEpedia must be civil and professional in nature. Harassing or abusive language is not allowed. So please be nice and please be respectful.

Assume good faith

When communicating with other people over the internet, it is common to mistake a harmless comment as a rude or sarcastic comment. It is also common to mistake a genuinely helpful motive as a malicious motive. In order to avoid such common misconceptions, each editor must begin with the assumption that the other editor has good intentions and is trying to collaborate helpfully. In other words, each editor should assume that other editors are acting in good faith. Remember that other contributors may come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and English may not be their first language.

How to edit by consensus

Naturally, different editors will have different opinions regarding the best way to write an article. At MEpedia, all edits to articles must be decided on by consensus. By "consensus", we mean that most or all editors agree on a specific edit. Generally speaking, if at least 75% of the editors discussing a particular edit agree on the wording for the edit, consensus has been reached.

Most of the time, however, there will only be one editor working on an article at a time, so there is no need to seek a consensus before making an edit. It is still wise for the one editor to seek a consensus from other editors if the proposed change is particularly important or potentially controversial.

However, editors should feel free to go ahead and make routine edits without seeking consensus. If someone else objects to an edit, a discussion can be started and the interested editors can work together to reach a consensus on the edit.

How to coordinate large changes

If you are planning to make large changes to an existing article, you should propose your changes on the article's discussion page at least 7 days before you make the edit. This gives other editors time to review your proposed changes and provide important feedback. (This is not necessary if the article is a stub page.)

It is often a good idea to put together a draft of your proposed changes and display the draft version either on the article's discussion page, or on a draft page such as User:Pyrrhus/draft. You can create your own draft page simply by adding "/draft" to the end of the name of your user page. (If other people need to see what has changed in the draft version, they can compare the draft page to the existing page by using Special:ComparePages.)

When it's acceptable to remove content

You may find content in an article that you feel should be removed. Bear in mind, however, that another editor apparently felt the content belonged in the article. Before removing that editor's content, contact the other editor on the article's discussion page to ask them to explain why they feel the content belongs in the article. If you do not receive a response from the other editor in 7 days, you may go ahead and remove the content. If you wish, you may ask an administrator to provide a neutral opinion.

When it's acceptable to undo/revert changes

When another editor makes an edit that you feel is incorrect in some way, do not simply reverse the edit. Instead, start a discussion on the article's discussion page, asking the other editor to explain their edit. If you are unable to reach a consensus on the edit with the other editor after 7 days, you may ask an administrator to provide a neutral opinion. If you do not receive a response from any administrator after an additional 7 days, you may go ahead and reverse the edit.


You may also occasionally email another user at Special:EmailUser, but that should only be done sparingly.

  • In the interest of editorial transparency, users should not use email for discussions about article content.
  • Nor should users use this email feature indiscriminately or to commercially solicit other users.

Users can disable this feature in their preferences in order to avoid receiving any emails from users. (You may also block emails from specific users at Special:Mute, but this feature may not yet be available.)

See also

Learn more