BattleTechWiki:Policies, Essays, Procedures, & Projects

There exists on BattleTechWiki four types of written pages that are not considered mainspace articles: policies, guidelines, essays, procedures and projects. Each one of these serves a specific purpose and they each reflect Editor consensus (which may change). This information page attempts to define the roles each one fills on BTW and the marking structure employed on each.


Policies have wide acceptance among editors and describe standards all users should normally follow. Policies can also be described as the regulations, governing practices and/or guidelines that BattleTechWiki tries to follow in order to help identify and resolve problems, guide Editors to the end mission of BTW and settle disputes. They are each the result of site experiences, lessons learned at similar wiki sites (most notably BattleTechWiki, pre-prepared responses for anticipated issues and, most importantly, the consensus of BTW's Editor base.

When policy is quoted as an answer to a dispute, it may be answered that the policy no longer represents the consensus. Similarly, the policy may not (yet) be geared to address the current issue. In these cases, consensus determination should be sought (preferably on that policy's talk page, rather than the original point of debate), using the Lengthy Discussion method due to the far-reaching influence a changed policy may have upon the site. It is recommended the discussion be advertised where appropriate, in order to increase the circle of interested parties.


Guidelines are sets of best practices supported by consensus. Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Due to their nature they are subcategorized according to their purpose.

  • Conduct guidelines outline ways for editors to behave and interact with each other on talk pages and elsewhere at BattleTechWiki.
  • Content guidelines apply only to the article namespace (unless otherwise specified in the guideline), and offer advice on identifying and including encyclopedic information in articles.
  • Deletion guidelines explain criteria and procedures for deleting unwanted pages.
  • Editing guidelines usually provide non-content advice about categorization, navigation or other how-to-edit advice.
  • Naming conventions detail the correct ways to name articles on particular topics.
  • Style guidelines contain extensive advice on writing style, formatting, grammar, and more.

BattleTechWiki Essays[edit]

BattleTechWiki Essays are the opinion or advice of an editor or group of editors to explain their perspective regarding an administrative facet of BattleTechWiki. Oftentimes for which widespread consensus has not been established. BattleTechWiki essays are often referenced in issues or disputes, much in the same way as policies and guildlines. However, they should be referenced in an attempt to either educate or sway opinion, not necessarily as 'the answer,' as a policy or guideline may. When referenced, the opposing interested parties may respectfully state the essay does not truly apply, along with why it does not. It should be remembered that BattleTechWiki essays are to be seen as tools of explanation.

As is true of policies and guidelines, things can change. Unlike them however, a new BattleTechWiki essay should be should be crafted and released when site consensus changes to a large extent (with the older BattleTechWiki essay possibly marked using the '{{Historical}}' template). It is to be remembered, despite the site's consensus regarding the position's validity, that it is the written opinion of an Editor (or group of Editors) and opinions cannot be invalidated.

Essays the author does not want others to edit, or that contradict widespread consensus, belong in the user namespace as a User essay. Additionally they do not speak for the entire community and may be created and written without approval.


Procedure pages are articles written with the intent to guide Editors step-by-step in the completion of a task. The procedures should be written to make the process as simple as possible. A new editor only needs to be directed to the actual Procedure's page in order to start a new article or adapt an existing one, with the end result of an effort that compares easily to those done by other editors.

Procedure pages are less consensus-driven than policies, for standards have generally been set up by the time procedures are written. However, if standards change (ex: a 'Mech infobox has the designers' names added as a possible field), then it is vital the associated Procedure page is updated to match. Otherwise, Editors not in the know will be frustrated by Editors in the the know who are equally frustrated by articles that continue to fail to meet the new standards.


Projects are pages that help guide collaboration of like-minded Editors on tasks they have in common. The most familiar form is a WikiProject, which is focused on developing articles to a consistent standard, using division of labor as a means of both motivation and developing (relative) expertise in a specific area of BattleTech knowledge. On this type of project page, there is usually a Project Lead, a project description, links to relevant policies, essays and procedures, tools and templates to be used, a self-evaluation system and a forum for group members to discuss all of the above.

Other examples of projects exist, to include managing functions of the administration of the BattleTechWiki site, such as with the Awards Committee project. In that example, policies inherent to the project are provided, a database of awards is displayed and -again- a forum is present for member use.

Projects are initiated by an editor who determines there is an area of interest that she or he shares with other Editors and in which is willing to undertake a collaborative effort. While there are no set procedures for the establishment of a new project, Project BattleMechs is a good example of the WikiProject format. Advertising for participation can be obtained on the Main Page via any willing Admin.

Life cycle[edit]

Many of the most well-established policies and guidelines have developed from principles that have been accepted as fundamental since BattleTechWiki's inception. Others developed as solutions to common problems and disruptive editing. Policy and guideline pages are seldom established without precedent and always require strong community support. Policies and guidelines may be established through new proposals, promotion of existing essays or guidelines, and reorganization of existing policies and guidelines through splitting and merging.

Essays and information pages may be established by writing them and adding {{essay}}, {{Information page}}, {{BattleTechWiki how-to}}, or a similar template to the page.

Current policy and guideline proposals can be found in Category:Proposals, and failed proposals can be found in Category:Failed proposals. All editors are welcome to comment on these proposals.


Proposals for new guidelines and policies require discussion and a high level of consensus from the entire community for promotion to guideline or policy status. Adding the {{policy}} template to a page without the required consensus does not mean the page is policy, even if the page summarizes or copies policy. Most commonly, a new policy or guideline documents existing practices, rather than proposing a change to what experienced editors already choose to do.

Good practice for proposals[edit]

One path for proposals is developing them through steps of

  1. {{brainstorming}}
  2. {{draft proposal}}
  3. {{proposal}}
  4. {{policy}} or {{guideline}} or {{essay}}

The first step is to write the best initial proposal you can. Authors can request early-stage feedback at our discord and from any relevant WikiProjects. Amendments to a proposal can be discussed on its talk page. It is crucial to improve a proposal in response to feedback received from outside editors. Consensus is built through a process of listening to and discussing the proposal with many other editors.

Once you think the initial proposal is well written, and the issues involved have been sufficiently discussed among early participants to create a proposal that has a solid chance of success with the broader community, start a request for comment (RfC) about your policy or guideline proposal in a new section on the proposal's talk page. Include the {{rfc|policy}} tag, along with a brief, time-stamped explanation of the proposal. Then, if you want, you can provide a detailed explanation of what the page does and why you think it should be a policy or guideline. The {{Proposal}} template should be placed at the top of the proposed page; this tag will get the proposal properly categorized.

If your proposal relates to an existing policy or guideline, then leave a note on the talk page of the related policy or guideline. For example, proposed style guidelines should be announced at BattleTechWiki talk:Manual of Style, which is the main guideline for style issues. Try to identify the subcategory of guideline or policy (see {{Subcat guideline}} template). To avoid later complaints about insufficient notice, it may be helpful to provide a complete list of the groups or pages you used to advertise the proposal on the talk page. Be careful not to canvass, and avoid non-neutral wording.

Editors should respond to proposals in a way that helps identify and build consensus. Explain your thoughts, ask questions, and raise concerns. Many editors begin their responses with bold-font 'vote' of support or opposition to make evaluation easier.

Closing a discussion requires careful evaluation of the responses to determine the consensus. This does not require the intervention of an administrator; it may be done by any sufficiently experienced impartial editor, not involved in the discussion, who is familiar with all policies and guidelines related to the proposal. The following points are important in evaluating consensus:

  • Consensus for guidelines and policies should be reasonably strong, though unanimity is not required.
  • There must be exposure to the community beyond just the authors of the proposal.
  • Consider the strength of the proposed page:
    • Have major concerns raised during the community discussion been addressed?
    • Does the proposal contradict any existing guidelines or policies?
    • Can the new proposed guideline or policy be merged into an existing one?
    • Is the proposed guideline or policy, or some part of it, redundant with an existing guideline or policy?
  • A proposal's status is not determined by counting votes, nor is a poll's numerical outcome tantamount to consensus.
  • If consensus for broad community support has not developed after a reasonable time, the proposal has failed. If consensus is neutral or unclear on the issue and unlikely to improve, the proposal has likewise failed.

Discussion may be closed due any number of reasons, please leave a short note about the conclusion you came to. Update the proposal to reflect the consensus. Remove the {{Proposal}} template and replace it with another appropriate template, such as {{Subcat guideline}}, {{Policy}}, or {{essay}}. If the proposal fails, please apply the {{Failed proposal}} tag, and leave it as it is. It is typically more productive to rewrite a failed proposal from scratch to address problems or seek consensus to integrate uncontroversial aspects of it into existing pages, rather than to re-nominate a proposal.

See BattleTechWiki namespace templates for a listing of banners.


An accepted policy or guideline may become obsolete because of changes in editorial practice or community standards, may become redundant because of improvements to other pages, or may represent unwarranted instruction creep. In such situations editors may propose that a policy be demoted to a guideline, or that a policy or guideline be demoted to a {{Information page}}, {{essay}} or {{historical}} page.

The process for demotion is similar to promotion. A talk page discussion is typically started, the {{Under discussion|status|Discussion Title}} template is added to the top of the project page, and community input is solicited. After a reasonable amount of time for comments, an independent editor should close the discussion and evaluate the discussion and determine whether a consensus has formed to change the status.

The {{Disputed tag}} template is typically used instead of {{Under discussion}} for claims that a page was recently assigned guideline or policy status without proper or sufficient consensus being established.

Essays, information pages, and other informal pages that are supported by only a small minority of the community are typically moved to the primary author's userspace. These discussions typically happen on the page's talk page, sometimes with an RfC. Other pages are retained for historical reference and are marked as such.

Content changes[edit]

Policies and guidelines can be edited like any other BattleTechWiki page. It is not strictly necessary to discuss changes or to obtain written documentation of a consensus in advance. However, because policies and guidelines are sensitive and complex, users should take care over any edits, to be sure they are faithfully reflecting the community's view and to be sure they are not accidentally introducing new sources of error or confusion.

Keep in mind that the purpose of policies and guidelines is to state what most editors agree upon, and should be phrased to reflect the present consensus on a subject. Editing a policy/guideline/essay page does not in itself imply an immediate change to accepted practice. It is, naturally, bad practice to recommend a rejected practice on a policy or guideline page.

As explained below, you may update best practices by editing boldly or by working toward widespread consensus for your change through discussion.

Substantive changes[edit]

Implement. Before making substantive changes to policy and guideline pages, it is sometimes useful to try to establish a reasonable exception to the existing practice. To try to update the existing best practices this way, you may directly deviate from the established practice following the WP:BOLD principles and make the change to mainspace pages. After some time, if there are no objections to the change and/or if a widespread consensus for your change or implementation is reached through discussion, you can then edit policy and guideline pages describing the practice to reflect the new situation.

Talk first. Talk page discussion typically precedes substantive changes to a policy. Changes may be made if there are no objections or if the discussion shows there is consensus for the change. Minor edits to improve formatting, grammar, and clarity may be made at any time.

If the result of discussions is unclear, then it should be evaluated by an administrator or other independent editor, as in the proposal process. Major changes should also be publicized to the community in general; announcements similar to the proposal process may be appropriate.

If wider input on a proposed change is desired, it may be useful to mark the section with the tag {{Under discussion|section|talk=Discussion Title}}. (If the proposal relates to a single statement, use {{Under discussion inline|Discussion Title}} immediately after it.)

Or be bold. Although most editors find prior discussion helpful, especially at well-developed pages, directly editing these pages is permitted by BattleTechWiki's policies. Consequently, you should not remove any change solely on the grounds that there was no formal discussion indicating consensus for the change before it was made. Instead, you should give a substantive reason for challenging it either in your edit summary or on the talk page.

Bold editors of policy and guideline pages are strongly encouraged to follow BattleTechWiki:Edit war standards. Editing a policy to support your own argument in an active discussion may be seen as gaming the system, especially if you do not disclose your involvement in the argument when making the edits.

Conflicts between advice pages[edit]

If policy and/or guideline pages directly conflict, one or more pages need to be revised to resolve the conflict so all the conflicting pages accurately reflect the community's actual practices and best advice. As a temporary measure during that resolution process, if a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, editors may assume the policy takes precedence.

More commonly, advice pages do not directly conflict, but provide multiple options. Editors must use their best judgement to decide which advice is most appropriate and relevant to the specific situation at hand.


The page names of policies and guidelines usually do not include the words "policy" or "guideline", unless required to distinguish the page from another.