spnhc:Wiki User Guidelines

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The goal of the SPNHC wiki is to create a place to aggregate best practices information relevant to the SPNHC membership and allow a platform for additional discussion and regular updating given new information. This website will utilize and build upon the previous work of the SPNHC Best Practices Interns and pull together content from past best practices initiatives conducted by SPNHC.


The site uses MediaWiki software with a WYSIWYG text editor, for basic formatting functions. The choice for using MediaWiki software was that it is the system with a larger community, it has well established examples, notably Wikipedia, and it guarantees upgrade in the long run. Familiarity with basic HTML language is an advantage but not necessary.

Community of Users

Contributors to the SPNHC wiki - who can add, delete, or edit information - must be SPNHC members or allied professionals chosen by the membership as editing members of the entries. The intended users of the SPNHC wiki are the wider Collections, Natural Science and Preservation communities.

Levels of Access and Updates

Obtaining Access

Users must first create an account by registering their login name. To promote transparency on the SPNHC wiki site usernames should follow the general protocol of full firstnamelastname (e.g. johndoe). Wiki usernames are case sensitive. To request a change your level of access please contact the SPNHC Best Practices Committee co-chairsUser:BredaZimkus or User:JessicaCundiff.

Access Levels

The wiki site has varying degrees of user permissions. There is no limit of the number of users who can be defined to have the various levels of access (that is to say, there is no one set number of users with the first level of access, for example). Currently the wiki content is available to the public but only those with Creator access may edit page content. Anyone with a Google ID or who requests an account may add to Discussion pages.

Editing Entries

Paper-based conservation catalogues have a lead editor, who collects the individual contributions. These contributions are reviewed before finally being accepted for publication. Similarly, online catalogue entries must be prepared before being made accessible to the wider audience. After "submission", chapters (i.e., pages addressing a specific topic) may be modified or added to by users with editing permissions. If at some point the reviewers deem a chapter to be complete, the entry may be locked and no additional changes will be made, until a user with administrator permission opens the entry. Chapters on information with need of constant update (e.g., Citations), may need to be frequently added to and may not be closed for additions at any point.

Linking pages and concepts within the chapters

One of the advantages of using an online collaborative knowledge base is the ease of linking key words to another page in the website with a definition (products or procedures, for example). External links to other websites may be added in the references area, at the end of a page. Links are encouraged but page authors are asked to keep links up to date.

Commenting and Editing

In each individual page, the 'Discussion' tab allows for commenting, and SPNHC members are encouraged to comment on content specifics, overall direction, updates and edits as well as initiating related discussions. Use of the signature/timestamp icon in the WYSIWYG editor will allow for easy tracking of discussion participants and the 'History' tab also tracks when and by whom changes were made to a page.

Updates to pages

The person(s) in charge of each page or working group is responsible for certifying updates. Each wiki page can be added to a user’s watchlist which will automatically send a notification when the page is edited.

Text editing within MediaWiki software

Editing wiki entries with MediaWiki software utilizes HTML, but knowledge of HTML code is not necessary. There are shortcuts to allow basic WYSIWYG editing which are easy to use.

Style Guide

Wiki standards are consistent with SPNHC Collection Forum Standards. Symbols, units, and nomenclature should conform to international usage. Cite all references in the text in parentheses by author and date, not separated by a comma, in the order of author name, separated by semi-colon: Deer et al. 1992; Fraser & Freihofer 1971; Mahoney 1973; Taylor 1967. Text should be succinct and use of bullet lists is encouraged. Photographs, figures or diagrams are acceptable and should be included whenever text may need additional clarification.

Page Naming

The names of wiki pages should be succinct but informative, as it helps both readers and editors find the information they need. In addition, it helps when creating new links in wiki content, as the link-search function only searches the beginning of a string, rather than the center.


Headers should be used to separate different sections of the same page. Use headers in order: your first header should be header 1 ("= Test ="), your second level of headers should be header 2 ("== Test 2 ==") and so on. Do not use Header 2 if there is no Header 1 preceding it.

Table of Contents

Wherever possible, use the default wiki Table of Contents instead of creating a custom coded one or removing the Table of Contents altogether. This allows for easier navigation of your wiki page. It also reduces the need to manually update links or add in new section links related to your Table of Contents. Using the default Table of Contents will also help create a consistent look across the wiki.

Bold, Italics, and Underlines

  • Bold or italics can be used to designate important words in a paragraph, but only one at a time, not both. In other words, do not use bold AND italics, but rather bold OR italics.
  • Do not use bold, italics, or underlines in place of header tags.
Tips Tricks.jpg

Text Formatting

Whenever possible, use the regular size text for body text. Disclaimer text or other small "warning" text can be included within a <small> tag, but should never be used for the entirety of a section or page. Avoid the use of ALL CAPS, except when part of the proper name of something, or as an acronym. ALL CAPS should not be used to create headers or otherwise designate different sections of a page. Use the built-in numbered and bulleted list function, wherever possible. Convert old-style lists to the wiki format, either by using # for numbered lists, or * for bulleted lists. Please do not include other characters to make ad-hoc lists, such as hypens, dashes, or indents.

Links, References and Bibliographies

When citing references that are used in the body of the page (versus a "read more" type of bibliography at the bottom of the page), use the built-in reference style of the wiki. This allows the wiki software to automatically generate a properly-numbered list of references wherever the tag is placed.

  • When citing sources that are not directly cited in the body of the page, as in a "Further Reading" section, use SPNHC Collection Forum formatting.
  • Do not write out URL's in either the built-in reference or in a "Further Reading" reference. Use links! This is important because the Wiki software can scan for broken links, but it has no idea if a link is broken if it's just written out instead of an actual link.
  • Attach the link to descriptive text in the body, not to a written-out URL. For example, this is the correct way to do a link. This way: http://www.spnhc.org is incorrect
  • When creating links, avoid all use of the phrasing "click here" or "go here" in the descriptive text of the link. Incorporate the linked word/phrase into the sentence structure in some other way, so it flows naturally.


Searches will display results from the SPNHC wiki, but not from the SPNHC general website pages.

Disclaimers, Copyright Information, and Contributor Information

  • Frequently-used disclaimers and copyright information should be placed in a template. When creating the template, be sure to use the Magic Words for the date, if the pages retains a current copyright. For example, putting 2017 instead of a static '2012' for the date, will output an always-current year, like so: 2015. Magic Words are incredibly useful, for instance did you know that it's Saturday, and the current month is July?
  • An example of a copyright/disclaimer template is as follows: "SPNHC Publications and their contents are subject to copyright, database protection, and other rights of the publisher (SPNHC) under the laws of the United States and the country of use. The subscriber acknowledges that it has no claim to ownership by reason of its use of or access to SPNHC Publications. Downloading of data is permitted solely for subscriber's internal use to the same extent as the printed version of the publication. Recompiling, publication or republication of the data, or any portion thereof, in any form or medium whatsoever, may be done only with specific written permission from the SPNHC."
  • Disclaimers can be placed at either the head or the footer of a page.
  • Information about contributors or original publication information (such as when the source material was published) can be mentioned in the body of the text or in a separate section of the page. Please use headers to distinguish this material from the other sections of the page, so that it does not float above the Table of Contents. This will help maintain a consistent look throughout the wiki.

Copyright and Licensing

With the exception of articles published by SPNHC Collection Forum which require copyright transfer, all material published by SPNHC is governed by a license agreement. Under the terms of the license, authors retain copyright of their work and are free to publish the work elsewhere. SPNHC, however, retains the right to re-publish the work in various media and formats. Authorship will be assessed by writing down the names of the authors in the Contributors section of each content page. This should be done even though additions will be noted in the 'History' log of the page. All content posted on the website will be covered by the terms of the license agreement: authors own material but grant AIC the right to publish it in the future. All posts keep a record of their author. Users of the website agree that their contributions may be viewed and used in the terms established under Levels of Access.


Images posted onto the wiki should be owned by the user. Size should be maintained at 2MB or less. Based on AIC's Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation, 1024 x 768 pixels is the most common standardized resolution across various electronic devices. Images in this range allow a clear image to be viewed on most screens while loading quickly on most devices.

Additional Assistance

In addition to these written guidelines, you can find a video regarding the SPNHC wiki training on the SPNHC YouTube channel. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Best Practices Committee co-chairs, Breda Zimkus and Jessica Cundiff.