explain xkcd:Editor FAQ

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Frequently Asked Questions for editors

This FAQ is a short description about editing pages at this wiki 'cause you're dumb. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to enter them into this talk page.

For general questions about wikitext please read first the MediaWiki help pages about Editing pages or look at the full overview here: Help Contents. You also can use your preferred search engine by entering "MediaWiki mytopic". Change mytopic to the theme you're searching for, i.e. "MediaWiki tables" will show you many useful sites about editing tables.

Please always use the preview button to verify your edit before finally pressing the save button.

This FAQ focuses only on topics related to this specific wiki.

What is the general layout of a comic page?

In general, you didn't have to care about this because the pages were generated by a bot nearly immediately after a new comic was released. Nowadays, we need a volunteer to either reach out to the bot developer or run it on their own. Please follow exactly the instructions here User:dgbrtBOT to update the comic.

The layout and order are structured as:

  • Comic picture with the title text below
  • Explanation
  • Transcript
  • Trivia (optional)
  • Discussion (embedded Talk page) (should be later removed if it grows too large)
  • List of non-standard categories

What should I include in the explanation?

Everything is welcome as long as it explains the content of the comic. Everybody can edit here and when others disagree about your contributions they may change it. If the comic references a scientific concept, a brief description and a link to its Wikipedia page for further information should be given (see how to do this here). The explanation should also explain the title text of the comic.

In which cases are tables meaningful, and when are they not?

In the transcript, tables should never be used. Even when there is a table in the comic image, it should be described using text.

In the explanation, tables only make sense when the content is compact. When a single row contains more than a small item like a number, a small phrase, or something similar, a table isn't the proper layout because it's hard to read. Instead, it should be written in floating text chapters with distinct headers above (see next section below.)

Instead of using a two-column table (e.g. "sentence from comic", "explanation"), consider using a description list (bold text). Place a semicolon (;) at the beginning of the sentence to be explained and a colon (:) at the beginning of each paragraph of the explanation, like this (from 1987):

; Anaconda Python
: Anaconda is a Python distribution for data science and machine learning related applications.
: A second paragraph for the explanation.

The Wikipedia's Manual of Style/Tables describes it best:

Often a list is best left as a list. Before reformatting a list into table form, consider whether the information will be more clearly conveyed by virtue of having rows and columns. If so, then a table is probably a good choice. If there is no obvious benefit to having rows and columns, then a table is probably not the best choice.

What is the proper layout for headers?

For headlines, you have to use wiki-style code. The simplest way is a preceding semicolon at the beginning of the line which causes the entire line to be rendered in bold.

On large explanations, it can be handy to divide it into subsections. In this case the header is written like this: ===Sub header===. But in most cases, the simple semicolon is just enough.

What is the format of the transcript section?

The transcript should describe the content (think about explaining the comic to a visually impaired person, or to someone on phone). It should do this in a compact manner, and cite all written words. Every line should begin with an indent (a simple : at the beginning), and every panel from the comic should be separated by a blank line. The transcript must not contain any links, nor rich math markup, which once again relies on visuals. Tables should generally be avoided, although not all transcripts comply with this. Furthermore, the title text is not included in the transcript. Checking the pages for the older comics will help understand this.

One or two spaces after a period? And what about newlines?

There is a controversy if one or two spaces after a period ending a sentence should be used. The fact is that even three or more spaces are rendered as only one. Furthermore, a single newline is also just rendered as a space.

A new paragraph like this needs an empty line before, not just a single newline. Click the edit/source button to see how this chapter is written.

What belongs to the trivia section?

As implied by the section name, it's just trivia, consisting of unimportant odds-and-ends related to the comic. Since this wiki focuses on explaining this section is not part of the default layout. If a word has been misspelled in the comic or title text, or the image was originally broken at xkcd and reuploaded... basically the things that don't belong in the explanation but should still be mentioned, then it should be mentioned in the trivia section.

How do I behave on the talk page (discussion)?

Everybody can add here any thoughts about the comic and more. Consider it as the comments section of a blog, because that’s how it has always been (see explain xkcd#History), just more flexible. Please follow the common netiquette and don't be rude. Unless you are replying to a previous comment, in which you should add a colon before your comment, you should add comments at the bottom. Every comment has to be signed at the end with ~~~~ or just click the sign button Button sig.png at the top of the editor.

What does the incomplete tag mean?

There are two templates to indicate that an explanation or the transcript needs further rework. Just enter {{incomplete|YOUR REASON}} or respectively {{incomplete transcript|YOUR REASON}} and don't forget to enter a proper reason to replace the filler text left by the bot (Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.), or if the reason said in the tag has been dealt with. The reason for the transcript is not shown to the viewer.

How do I add references?

You don’t. It is preferable to link the source you want to cite in the sentence that needs sourcing itself (see #How do I enter links to other pages?).

How do I enter links to other pages?

The three most-used options are:

  • an internal link like [[Cueball]] which renders like this: Cueball
  • a link to the English Wikipedia should use this template: {{w|Page}} links to the Wikipedia article on "Page" or {{w|Page|Display}} prints "Display" which links to the Wikipedia article on "Page"
  • other external links can be done in three ways:
    • just write the URL and it will be shown like this: http://www.example.com
    • put it into single brackets: [http://www.example.com] and you will see this: [1] (Please avoid this.)
    • add a text: [http://www.example.com Example Homepage] everything after the first space is shown: Example Homepage

Why can't I upload pictures or create pages?

Only registered and trusted users can create pages or upload images. After the registration, you have to wait at least three days and must have done a small number of edits. Then you will be able to create pages and upload images at will.

How do I embed images?

This wiki isn't a picture book. Use this feature only sparingly and reduce the size as much as possible. An example can be seen here: 1400: D.B. Cooper. The syntax in this case is [[File:DBCooper.jpg|thumb|150px|Cooper]] and the picture is taken from Commons, the main source for Wikipedia images. The full syntax can be found at MediaWiki.

You also can upload pictures directly to this wiki by using the Special:Upload link from the menu. But do not violate any copyright rules or it will be deleted. And when the picture is available at Commons there is no need to upload it here.

The picture at xkcd was updated, how do I upload this here?

Sometimes the initial picture at xkcd contains typos or other errors. When that has been fixed the comic picture here should also be updated. Save the picture from xkcd to your local PC but be careful, there are two versions available. We here use only the smaller version picture.png and not the larger one picture_2x.png. So change https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/picture_2x.png to https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/picture.png when your browser shows the 2x version.

To update it here, just click the image on the comic page and then click "Upload a new version of this file" below the file history. Please be patient, you won't see your upload immediately because it still comes from the cache at the server. But when you see your upload in the file history everything is OK. Just wait...

How do I enter mathematical or chemical formulas?

You can use the Math markup <math>...</math>. The other known code from Wikipedia <chem>...</chem> is not supported yet. It's based on LaTeX syntax and a general overview can be found at its Wikipedia help page. Don't use it unless you actually understand what you are doing.

Furthermore, never use this markup at the transcript because that math code is rendered to a picture — in the transcript we try to describe the comic image by words. A picture there wouldn't be helpful.

Is the Citation needed template here similar to the analog at Wikipedia?

Simple answer: NO. In fact, that template just links to 285: Wikipedian Protester, a comic from July 4, 2007, and was meant to be a joke. Adding this template to every comic doesn't explain anything at all (that's what this wiki aims to do) and should be placed only when there is a deeper sense of humor.

What is the general layout of a xkcd character page?

The layout and order are structured as:

  • Infobox character template with an image of the character, caption, and first appearance.
  • Brief description.
  • Noting the different names given to the character in different comics under the “Name” section.
  • Characteristics of the character under the “Characteristics” section.
    • Cameos of the character under a proper name and different personality can be detailed in a separate section (ie. see Ponytail#Doctor Ponytail)
  • Adding the Characters category.