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Help:Article guidelines

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This page gives you a number of hints how to create and improve articles. For better understanding of the formatting details you should open the main commands for editors.


Article type

Manuals and case studies

GrassrootsWiki knows two kinds of articles on grassroots technologies:

  • manuals and
  • case studies.

They look on grassroots technologies from different perspectives. The following scheme explains the difference on the basis of the example 'dug well':

The thematic portals contain articles on technologies, e.g. construction manuals for physical devices, tools or machines as well as process manuals for manufacturing, organizational or business processes which can be easily replicated. A manual describes e.g. the construction of a dug well:

  • How large has a dug well to be if it should provide water to 50 people?
  • Which construction materials are recommended?
  • Which tools are needed?
  • Are there special requirements for example in earthquake areas?
  • How much time do we have to calculate for implementation?
  • Do we need external expertise and where to get it?
  • How to dig the wall? And so on.

The case studies portal registers best practice examples showing proper implementation of grassroots technologies. Field experiences are an important part of a technology description, because they show their applicability. A case study of implementing a dug well is a real story with a specific place and it has been finished. In your article you should add information like:

  • Which problems did you have with the implementation of the dug well?
  • Did you get support from other people?
  • How much was it (maybe in relation to the average income).
  • How did you finance it?
  • Which hurdles did you overcome and how?
  • Who argued against the implementation and why?
  • How did you organize the maintenance?
  • Did you have to check some local laws? And so on.

Before creating an article you should decide on its type. Always be aware which type of article you are writing and who you are writing for.

Avoid similiar articles

To avoid similiar articles instead of an step by step improved one please check if there are articles already covering your topic. If no article title matches, GrassrootsWiki will invite you to create a new page. If a similiar article already exists, please, rather improve or complete this one than creating a new one.

Use the different search options to check if your article titel in mind or a similiar one already exist. Please check also the special page Wanted pages. It lists article titles, which are already marked as internal link, but still lack contents.


We don't know your idea and your writing experience. As a matter of principle you are free to use your own structure for your page or to use our templates for help. The main thing is that you first structure your page.


The article title you have to choose already when creating a new article. Use an self-explanatory title. Avoid articles "the", "a" in titles and heading, be brief, don't write "About water pumps" but "Water pump", not "Understanding water treatment" but "Water treatment".


Decide on the objective of your article and describe it in the introductory section to answer the question "What is this article about?". After choosing the title and description of the objective write all section and subsection titles.


A certain structure helps to write a good understandable article. So, if you do not have your own structure in mind, we suggest to use, at least partly, one of our templates for your article. They are, of course, not fitting all needs. Different content may require different sections. GrassrootsWiki offers the following standard templates when creating a new article:

See here the template for a manual.
See here the template for a case study.

Write for the Reader

The target reader is the most important person. Always imagine a reader that doesn't know anything. Imagine all the questions that he or she might have and answer them in your text. Don't be too ashamed to explain things everybody should know - just explain it, it only costs you a few lines. As a good writer you explain all possibly new terms and concepts and you add useful links for further study.


Define the terms when you first mention them (or at the beginning of the document or section). After that use consistently only these terms.

Keep it simple and short

The main goal is to provide a description of a grassroots technology which is widely understandable to others. They should get interested and encouraged to use your experience. A technical wiki is not a novel. You may repeat keywords as often you consider it to be necessary. Using expressions like "this, it, the latter, the former, the one" only create confusion. Start a new sentence for each new concept, idea or detail.

Use simple but correct English so that English beginners and native speakers easily read our documents. Write in clear precise unambiguous sentences. Do not write sentences with more than 15-20 words. Avoid double-negative sentences (If you do _not_ _un_check it, ...) or hidden double negative expression that use avoid, deny, refuse, etc. ("avoid deleting this").


Repeat important facts. That might seem needless. But there is always a reader who didn't notice the definition you mentioned along the way - he or she will be thankful. You can write: "You still remember..." "As you have learned..." "As you have seen..." "Now you understand..." "Be aware of the fact/definition ..." "Don' forget that..." or if don't want to talk to the reader. "As mentioned before ..." "As defined/specified above..."


Always mention the reason why something has to be done using the way you indicate. Use "because", "therefore", "for this reason", "that's why", "in order that", "so that", "for this purpose".


Use bold and italics inside your text in order to highlight the keywords and new terms. Structure your page with subheadings. They are eye catchers and make your text easier to read.

Enrich the article

Add images or other media

Use pictures and graphics to illustrate your article. Often details can be graphically better explained than in words. Also documents can be added to an article to give more detailed information. Use the function Upload file to do so.

Add case studies to manuals and vice versa

Manuals are better understandable with field experiences. Case studies are better understandable with manuals on the used tools and processes. Think about adding a complementary article in the thematic portal or the case study portal. Link them to each other!


When you created your article, it would be helpful to others if you categorize it. Articles without a category are difficult to find. Categories covers articles of the same topic. To categorize an article you have to put a link to a special category page at the end of your article. The category page describes this category and lists alphabetically all articles of this category. This helps all users to get as much as possible benefit from GrassrootsWiki.

There are the following four main types of categories:

Technology categories
There many different technology categories. The portal pages are structured according to the different technology categories exiting in the wiki. You can choose from these existing categories or select a new one if necessary. If an article is a manual describing a technology it should be categorized with [[Category:selected technology category]] at the end.
Case studies
If an article is an case study it should be categorized with [[Category:Case studies]] at the end.
Geographical regions
Every article which is related to a geographical region can be categorized to one of the categories listed on the Geographical regions page. To do so put [[Category:selected geographical region]] at the end.
If an article describes an organization it should be categorized with [[Category:Organizations]] at the end.

An article can belong to many categories, also to different technology categories. Just put every category separately on a single line.

Link to portal pages

The portal pages help users to access the information needed easily. Link your article to the related portal pages(s) (for that it is necessary to log in) and secure a better chance to others to find your article.

Gather references

A reference is a line of text that uniquely identifies a source of an information, picture, etc. The purpose of adding references is:

  • to ensure that the content of articles can be checked by any reader or editor.
  • to show that your edit is not original research and to reduce editorial disputes.
  • to avoid claims of plagiarism and copying.
  • to help users find additional information on the topic.

Sources should be cited when adding material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, when quoting someone, when checking content added by others, and when uploading an image. If there are reliable sources (such as newspapers, journals, or books) with enough information to write about a subject, then that subject is notable and those sources can verify the information. If you take texts, pictures or graphics from other sources, then put references to your article.



Is all your text visible after clicking the "Show preview" button?


All sentences end with a period ".". Even those sentences that are used in lists. Don't forget to put a verb in your sentence.

Read it again

Read your text again. Read it aloud. You will find a lot of possible improvements.

Save your article

Don't forget to save your article! Be aware that using the button "Show preview" doesn't save your content!

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