Help:How to add content

From Discourse DB
Revision as of 16:59, December 27, 2006 by Yaron Koren (talk | contribs) (Somewhat of an overhaul for new item-adding approach)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Adding content in Discourse DB is easy, but it is slightly different from Wikipedia and other wiki sites. This page should help explain things.

Remember, you do not have to register in order to contribute. You can add pages and edit all content on the site even without being registered. Still, we recommend registering (a very quick process) if you're planning to do any significant editing; it's easier for everyone to see your editing history, and to communicate with you if need be.


Adding an item

Let's say you're reading your favorite newspaper, The United States Times (this is not a real newspaper), and you spot the following column:

Free ice cream? No thanks
By Christopher D. Example
January 10, 2007
Of all the bad ideas coming out of our nation's leadership lately, the Free Ice Cream Fridays Act has to be among the worst. The bill, which is right now being voted on in the House, would organize the handing-out of free ice cream every Friday at 5. Sure, it sounds appealing: who doesn't want a nice dessert after a hard week at the office, or at school? But what doesn't get mentioned is the cost to the economy, and the lost productivity. I know at 5, I'll be running out the door to get my scoop, instead of working on whatever column I should be writing. This refreshing but unnecessary work-break brought to you by the American taxpayer.
That's not to mention all the logistical problems: I'm envisioning trucks that couldn't get to their destinations fast enough showing up with melted ice cream to a disappointed crowd. And what about lactose-intolerant people? As always, they get the worst deal of all. Calling it the "Free Frozen Desserts Friday Act" would have gone a long way to creating some basic fairness, but of course the geniuses in Washington would never have that much sense.

To add this item, you should first make sure it is appropriate for the site, then make sure it has not been added before. You can read more about those steps below. To simply add the new item, click on the 'Add an item' link here or on the left side of the page, and enter into the form the following values:

Title: Free ice cream? No thanks
Author: Christopher D. Example
Source: The United States Times
Date: January 10, 2007
Quote: But what doesn't get mentioned is the cost to the economy, and the lost productivity. I know at 5, I'll be running out the door to get my scoop, instead of working on whatever column I should be writing.
Topic: Free Ice Cream Fridays Act
Position: Act should be passed

When you click 'Preview', you'll be taken to the preview page for that item. If everything looks alright, just hit "Save page" to enter that item in the database. That's it! For more details on what's going on, continue reading below.

Establishing notability

OK, you have found an editorial you would like to include, as described above. The first thing to ask is, is this a notable opinion item? In order to be included in Discourse DB, the column has to pass two criteria: (1) it has to comment on some policy matter, and (2) it has to have been published in a notable source; you can find the full requirements for a notable source at Help:Sources, but basically that currently means that it has to have a circulation of at least 50,000, if it's a print publication, or get at least 50,000 unique visitors a month, if it's an online publication. The example column above certainly fits the criterion of subject matter, since it takes a strong stand on a proposed government action. You do a web search on The United States Times and you see that it was recently audited as having a daily circulation of 90,000, so this item fits the notable-source criterion as well.

The next step is to make sure that this item hasn't already been included in Discourse DB. The easiest way is to search the site for the author or publication name (using the search form in the sidebar), and look through the search results. You can also search by the column title, though sometimes columns are syndicated and will show up in more than one publication, under different titles.

The fields

For more information, see Help:Items
For more information, see Help:Opinions
For more information, see Help:Topics
For more information, see Help:Positions

The "URL" and "date" fields are fairly straightforward. For the quote, you should pick a one-to-five-sentence snippet, from the body of the column itself, that captures the point of view and tone of the column. Feel free to look through other items in Discourse DB for a sense of quoting style. As to source and author, there may be some ambiguity here - should it be "United States Times" or "The United States Times"? Should the author be "Christopher D. Example" or "Christopher Example" ? Or "Chris Example"? Thankfully, the auto-complete feature in the "Add item" form will help fill in values that already appear in the database. If there are no previous entries for this author or source, you should look on Wikipedia to see how they are referred to there; general Discourse DB style is to copy Wikipedia's naming conventions whenever possible. If the author and/or source don't appear in either Discourse DB or Wikipedia, go with whatever name you think makes the most sense.

The "topic" and "position" fields are both optional, but to add them in, see Help:Topics and Help:Positions for an explanation of these two concepts. To decide on the topic name, you should use the same methodology described for sources and authors: first, see if the auto-complete feature offers a reasonable possibility, then, if that fails, on Wikipedia. For the position name, if it doesn't already exist in Discourse DB, try to match the style of existing position names.

Adding a topic

For more information, see Help:Topics

Once you've added the item, you may see a variety of red links on that item's page, for some combination of the topic, position, author and source; a red link means that no page currently exists in Discourse DB for that title. To create the page for a topic, and turn its red link blue, you need to fill it in with a "topic" template. This template, when blank, looks like the following:

|start date=
|end date=

The start date and end date are optional; they're meant to give a sense for the time frame for this topic. Some topics don't have a precise start and end date; others have one but not the other.

The topic page should also include some information to indicate to readers what is being discussed. The easiest way to do this is simply to include a link to the Wikipedia article on the same topic, if one exists. This can be done with the "wikipedia" template, which can be called either as


if this page has the same title as the Wikipedia page, or


if the Wikipedia page has a different title. If there's no link-worthy page in Wikipedia, you can just include your own short description and a set of links.

It's also helpful to add the topic to one or more categories; you can see the current main list of categories at Main categories. This involves the very simple "category" tag; you can read how to add categories at the Wikimedia category help page.

So, putting all these together, you could create a page, named "Free Ice Cream Fridays Act", that looks like:


|start date=October 2, 2006
|end date=

[[Category:United States domestic politics]]

Hit "Save page", and you're done.

Adding a position

For more information, see Help:Positions

A position's page name will include the name of the topic it belongs to, for ease of use. The page name will read "TOPIC_NAME / POSITION_NAME" (note the spaces around the slash); in the case of the current example, it would be "Free Ice Cream Fridays Act / Act should be passed". The easiest way to create this page is to get there by clicking on the position's red link in the item page; that way the page name will already be perfectly formatted. Once you're there, you only have to type in:


And that's all.

Adding a source

For more information, see Help:Sources

Creating a source page involves the "source" template, and, as with topics, optionally the "wikipedia" template as well. See Help:Sources for more information on representing sources. The text to create the page for The United States Times could look like:


|country=United States

Adding an author

For more information, see Help:Authors

Creating an author page requires the "author" template, with three optional fields: the first name and last name (these are used for sorting and eventually will be used for searching as well), and political affiliation (the possible values for this field have not been standardized yet, so feel free to use any term here). As before, you can again optionally use the "wikipedia" template here. The text to create the page for Christopher D. Example could look like:


|first name=Christopher
|last name=Example
|political affiliation=Moderate

Refreshing data

You may notice, after adding or modifying an opinion item, that the new item or modified data do not appear where they should appear, in a topic page, position page, author page, etc. That's most likely because the data that appears in that page is cached from before. You can make the new data appear by hitting the "refresh" tab at the top of this page.