Joined 24 July 2005
Some rules of thumb:
- Drawing attention to a problem is good, fixing it is better: Don't spend more time drawing attention to or discussing a problem with an article than it would take to simply solve it.
- Article titles are largely irrelevant because of redirects: Moving an article rarely constitutes an actual improvement of the encyclopedia.
- Consistency is not a greater good: Enforcing consistency simply for consistency's sake is not necessarily an improvement. Creating consistency across incomparable contexts may in fact be detrimental.
- Content is more important than form: Changing spelling, typoes, style or formatting in a bad article does not actually make the article better, though it may give it the false appearance of being so.
- Editing an infobox rarely improves an article - edit warring over them never does: The infobox simply provides key facts form the article. So if the infobox is wrong, first improve the article. If a piece of information in an infobox is frequently the source of edit wars, it probably shouldn't be in the infobox at all.
- Don't contribute content about topics where you have inadequate knowledge. If you are just becoming interested in a new topic then read about it first, then edit. Also remember that the Dunning-Kruger effect also affects you - unless you are truly an expert in something, chances are that you are overestimating your knowledge. The solution is to read more.
- Don't cite research you don't understand - also not second hand. Don't add information to a science related article based on news coverage of some newly published research study - at least not unless you have actually read and understood the original study. You cannot assume the science writer at your favorite news media understands the research and its implication - usually in fact they either don't understand it or they willfully misrepresent it to attract readers.
- The quality of the cited literature is at least as important as the quality of the information that is cited. When citing a simple fact such as "King James I died in 1625" one could simply cite a random history book that happens to mention the fact, or a newspaper article or an official looking website, but the value to the reader greatly enhanced if it is accompanied by a link to the best available literature on the life of King James. This is why we should strive to cite only the best literature, and that which is most likely to contain additional information of interest to the reader of articles on a specific topic.
- Don't take the bait. (my major weakness)
My personal professional website can be found here.