Talk Guidelines

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia community encourages discussion of articles. It is important to remember the following guidelines and the managing editors at the Thomas Jefferson Foundationreserve the right to remove comments and block users if they are not followed.


How to use Talk Pages

  • Communicate: Make the extra effort so that other people understand you & you get a proper understanding of others.
  • Keep on topic: Talk pages are not for general conversation and irrelevant discussions are subject to removal.
  • Be positive: Article talk pages should be used for ways to improve an article, not to criticize, pick apart, or vent about the current status of an article.
  • Stay objective: Talk pages are not a forum for people to argue their own different points of view about controversial issues. They are a forum to discuss how the different points of view obtained from sources should be included in the article, so that the end result is neutral and objective (which may mean including conflicting viewpoints).
  • Deal with facts: The talk page is the ideal place for all issues relating to verification. This includes asking for help to find sources, comparing contradictory facts from different sources, and examining the reliability of references. Asking for a verifiable reference to support a statement is often better than arguing against it.
  • Discuss edits: The talk page is particularly useful to talk about edits. If one of your edits has been reverted, and you change it back again, it is good practice to leave an explanation on the talk page and a note in the edit summary that you have done so. The talk page is also the place to ask about another editor's changes. If someone queries one of your edits, make sure you reply with a full, helpful rationale.
  • Make proposals: New proposals for the article can be put forward for discussion by others if you wish.

Good Practice

  • Sign your posts: To sign a post, type four tildes (~~~~), and they will be replaced with your username and time stamp, Please note that it is impossible to leave an anonymous comment because your user name or IP address is recorded in the page history.
  • Avoid excessive markup: It undermines a reasoned argument with the appearance of force through Italic text, Bolded text, and especially CAPITAL LETTERS, which are considered SHOUTING, and RANTING!!!!! Italics, however, can be usefully employed for a key word, to distinguish quoted text from new text and, of course, book titles etc.
  • Be concise
  • Keep the layout clear: Keep the discussion page attractively and clearly laid out, and avoid repetition, muddled writing, and unnecessary digressions.
  • Read the archives: Many article talk pages contain links to archives, which contain earlier discussions.
  • Centralized discussion: Avoid posting the same thread in multiple forums.

Unacceptable Behavior

Please note that some of the following are of sufficient importance to be official policy. Violations (and especially repeated violations) may lead to the offender being banned from the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.

  • No personal attacks: A personal attack is saying something negative about another person. This mainly means:
  • No insults: Don't make ad hominem attacks. Instead, explain what is wrong with an edit and how to fix it.
  • Don't threaten people.
  • Don't make legal threats.
  • Never post personal details: Users who post what they believe are the personal details of other users without their consent may be blocked for any length of time, including indefinitely.
  • Don't misrepresent other people: The record should accurately show significant exchanges that took place, and in the right context. This usually means:
  • Be precise in quoting others.
  • As a rule, don't edit others' comments. Exceptions are described in the next section.

Editing comments

It is not necessary to bring discussion pages to publishing standards, so there is no need to correct typing errors, grammar, etc.

Editing others' comments is generally not allowed. Exceptions are:

If you have their permission Removing prohibited material such as libel and personal details Removing personal attacks and incivility. Unsigned comments

Own comments It is best to avoid having to change one's comments. Other users may already have quoted you or have otherwise reacted to your statement. Therefore, use "Show preview" and think about how your statement may look to others before you save it.

Changing or deleting comments after someone replied is likely to cause problems, because it will put the reply in a different context. In that case you have several options:

  • Ask the person who replied (on their talk page) if it's OK to delete or change your text
  • Use strike-through or a place holder to show it is a retrospective alteration.

Strike-through has <s></s>and it look like like this. A placeholder is a text such as "[Thoughtless and stupid comment removed by the author.]". This will ensure that your fellow editors' irritated responses still make sense. In turn, they may then wish to replace their reply with something like, "[Irritated response to deleted comment removed. Apology accepted.]"


If you are having a disagreement or a problem with someone's behavior, please contact us at the Jefferson Library.