Guidelines for "Tips & Tricks" category

It would be helpful if the @moderators team agreed upon and published a set of guidelines for the “How To” category.

As the person that suggested this category, I will outline how I had envisioned it so that it may inform that decision:

  • To create new topics in the “How To” category that collect and collate in a summarized manner information on common or useful subjects that have been discussed in other threads. Examples:

  • The benefit of transcluding a topic, rather than moving the original thread in to the How To category, is that it makes the How To category more useful as reference material. Users need not read the entire thread but rather the useful post(s) can be directly transcluded, and using wiki posts means the information can be kept up to date.

  • Also, this means that if in the future there are other alternate techniques shared for example for adding a footer to a wiki in a new topic, it can be transcluded in to the same How To post rather than ending up with multiple posts in How To on the same topic.

  • To keep the collated summary topics in How To concise and easier to locate pertinent information in, it would also make sense to continue any further discussion on the topic in the original thread instead of in the summary in How To. Replies can always be moved if need be.

  • Similarly it would mean that users should be encouraged not to write posts meant directly for the How To category, but rather as general Discussion posts at first so that the knowledge therein can be discussed and improved upon.

  • It would also mean that posts with relevant and pertinent information should not be moved to How To, rather a new topic should be created in How To summarizing the important parts, or just transcluding the relevant posts. Transclusion makes this very fast and the burden for it need not be on the moderators.

I believe this would be a low effort and productive way - though requiring discipline - to build up useful reference material for common users needs that can perhaps later be transformed into formal documentation.

This is just how I envisioned it and I felt obliged to expound on that, it need not be how we go about things if the community feels differently. Regardless of whether this is the approach we take or not, I think having some guidelines is important as the category is currently becoming rather messy and as a result less useful, see for example the donut/pie chart posts and the not very informative titles in the category.

Sounds good, and with your user level you can curate posts in / out of How To, so it’s not just a moderator thing.

I also don’t think “moderators decide the rules” — so thank you for suggesting it / writing your thoughts and using your member level to help maintain it!

Do you want to edit this into the About for the category? I just made it a wiki.

I disagree with:

In that I find it useful place to author long form How To information. Should I still start that in Discussion first? What do you think?

There’s probably a line in there somewhere of adding some of this content to core documentation? Not sure.

I do think we don’t want questions there (I just moved one by a new user), and there are a couple of posts in Developers that is more like hoping a Developer will answer.

The issue isn’t one of who does the curation, from my perspective that is the easy part.

Rather that there needs to be consensus building first. It would not be appropriate for a single person to unilaterally apply their vision. Especially since at present less than half of the posts in the category actually fit my idea of how things should be.

I would be happy to once there is some consensus and input.

Hmm. So I see two potential issues with posting directly to the How To category. The first is that a well meaning poster writes something that proves to be factually incorrect or suboptimal. This occurred with the pie chart post which then led to a follow up donut chart post. Ideally these should both have been in Discussion and then curated into a single How To post.

The second issue is posting directly to How To makes it more natural for discussion or replies to the How To to be in that same topic.

However, since both posts and replies can be moved if need be, I don’t see these as being particularly critical issues. What is important I think is to have guidelines in place as to what the How To category posts are supposed to be like, so that subsequent moving of posts/replies is according to those guidelines rather than adhoc decisions to which someone may take umbrage.

My point about consensus building was mainly the tagging of moderators – not limited to just those who happen to be moderators.

Well meaning posters will post stuff that is wrong in How To no matter what. Conveniently, it’s a wiki, and can be edited. The two posts you mentioned should probably be merged into the follow up donut chart post.

Basically, I think the only area that we disagree is that I think that authoring How To’s directly in the category is fine. How strongly do you feel about that? Is it a make or break for you?

Would the additional guideline of “don’t ask questions in How To” improve things for you? – which you didn’t have in your guidelines, but perhaps adds clarity of my “go ahead and write long form How To, but don’t use it to ask questions”.

And, of course, there still WILL be replies. Those replies can be either transcluded into the wiki of the how to – or direct edited in.

Do you have a suggestion of where I should have posted this one?

It’s an example of the long form writing I’d like to preserve. But…it’s also perilously close to something that I should perhaps PR into core documentation? Probably wouldn’t pass muster of the style guide.

How To is a wiki by default. It’s the one category where people should know that it’s not “their” post, which is why I added this:

So…no umbrage is allowed in that category :wink: – e.g. “posts in the How To category will be community edited for clarity and correctness, and merged and moved as needed”.

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Not at all make or break. As I mentioned, it isn’t a critical issue since if need be either the topics themselves or the replies on them can be moved if inappropriate.

Absolutely. Apologies for not addressing this previously, it slipped my mind since it seems a given that it isn’t a place to ask questions. Yes, this should be in the guidelines.

That is a very good example actually. Your post is great for the category but the further discussion on it makes it less useful as reference material. A new reader will never be sure if they need to read the entire topic or if the top post is up to date with the summary of the discussion. From the perspective of the people replying, it makes sense to reply there as there isn’t another thread tied to it that could be used for discussion.

In my opinion this could be approached in two ways: the topic gets moved to Discussion and a new How To topic created that transcludes your top post. Or, the discussion gets moved to a new topic in Discussion. Both work. However, we may have less moving around and clean up work to do if posts aren’t originally posted to the How To category. Either way, not a critical issue in my opinion.

If I had written that topic I would probably have posted it to Discussion, allowed for a period of time for review and feedback. Then either transcluded it in How To, or if lacking any replies just moved it.

I will reiterate that this is not critical and not an area where we need to be very strict as long as we can tidy up later.

This definitely needs to be in the guidelines.

To help move this along, below is a draft of suggested guidelines for the How To category.

  • Posts in the “How To” category will be community edited for clarity and correctness, and merged and moved as needed.

  • Create new topics in this category that collate or summarize information on common or useful subjects that have been discussed in other topics.

  • Keep the topics in “Tips & Tricks” concise and easy to locate pertinent information in. Any further discussion on the topic should be in the original thread.

  • Do not move topics from other categories to “Tips & Tricks”. Summarize or transclude the useful post(s) so that users need not read the entire thread to obtain the pertinent information.

  • Questions should be posted in “Discussion” and not in “Tips & Tricks”.

  • Before creating a new topic please check if there is an existing topic on the same subject and if so, update the wiki post in that topic.

  • Before writing new content and posting it directly to “Tips & Tricks”, consider if it would benefit from discussion and review first and if so, post it to Discussion. Once the content has been discussed a post can be created in “Tips & Tricks” that transcludes the original post.

  • By posting in this category you grant permission to use your contributions to create, update on improve upon TiddlyWiki documentation.

I’m ok with the suggestions made so far. All of them

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I’ll offer this little convention up as I’ve seen it work quite well in Discourse elsewhere.

When there are multiple (assigned?) curators/editors, their tag-names are listed at the bottom of the article:

Editors: @saqimtiaz @boris

(This obviously doesn’t scale well if there are fifty editors :scream: )

Since @boris has removed the avatar from wiki posts (good idea!), there is no implied “community credence” afforded the words without a name attached (sorry, that’s an ugly sentence to parse, hope you get my drift). It might be even more beneficial in that case.

@CodaCoder I think that would be a good convention to adopt. Perhaps we can do so without adding it to the guidelines, lest they get so long that no one reads them.

Would it perhaps be beneficial to add a statement along the lines that posting in “How To” implies consent to have your contributions potentially used to improve TiddlyWiki documentation?


And personally, I’d resist the temptation to use wiki-posts where anyone can edit. A fully open door to editing may cause more work - best avoided. With a clear statement of intent about how the cat is to be used, I see nothing wrong with assigning editing roles and acting accordingly.

That’s not to say wiki-posts have no place, just don’t think they’re warranted for HowTo.

@boris Site-wide, I’d also add things like:

Native English Speakers: Please post in friendly, easily translated English (no txt-speke, right m8?). Nobody is going to search for your garbled text, so please don’t use it in your posts.

To expand on that, perhaps something like:

“Our discussions are in English. It is not the first language of many people in the community, nor do we all share the same cultural background and reference points. So we take care to use language that is clear and unambiguous, and avoid cultural references or jokes that will not be widely understood.”


Haven’t curated out a couple of posts, I now believe that “Solutions” might be a better name.

I believe “How To” is being interpreted as “I would like to know How To / How do I x?”

Then we should turn off replies — aka “close” topics — if that is your concern.

There will always be discussion on How To/Solutions posts as people use it to ask questions.

I feel strongly that “never post in Solutions until you workshop it first and then only transclude” is unnecessarily strict.

Also not a deal breaker for me, just documenting point of view.

Since it’s your idea — we should go with your take.

I have had the same impression that the “How To” category name is misleading users as to its purpose. I would be in favour of renaming it.

In the draft guidelines that I posted a while back further up in this thread, I have phrased it as a suggestion to consider whether the content of a new post in the category might benefit from discussion first.

I would prefer to give that a chance and see how it goes, and then if need be we can revisit other ideas like making it a strict requirement or automatically closing all topics in the category.

@saqimtiaz et al

“We” (elsewhere) use “Tips & Tricks” for this category. “HowTo” is a tag and can therefore appear anywhere throughout the board. T&T is for more considered (perhaps curated) material and most certainly does not allow “How do I…?” questions (when found, they’re moved and a gentle reminder sent to the author).

Or even after, if the category is to be kept clean of chat. Reminds me of usenet.


I'm not a fan of the word "Tricks", personally -- just offering this up as an alternative. Maybe just "Tips"?

I know, we shouldn’t rely on “Tricks” to make our system work. But I think “Tips and Tricks” is common phrase, so users know what is meant.

and … I did like the “T&T” TLA but would like to change it to “TnT” :wink: