OLPC:Style guide

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Welcome to the OLPC Wiki style guide. This is here to keep people from creating pages with strange wikisemantics and titles and categorizations that don't naturally help other wiki users find them. Or lead to edit wars that continue across centuries.


Proposed: Pages in different languages should be on their own wikis -- one wiki per language. Languages that do not yet have a few introductory pages in their language (including the Main Page, OLPC:About and this style guide page) may have individual pages translated here on this multilingual site.

Counterargument: I disagree if you mean completely different wiki's. Multiple languages can co-exist here at OLPC with proper translation and auto translation to fill in the gaps.Seth 21:55, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Campaigns and slogans

  1. One Laptop per Child : lowercase 'p'.
  2. Give One, Get One / Give 1, Get 1 / give 1, get 1 : the latter predominated in 2007, moving to the former in 2008.
  3. give a laptop. change the world. and longer version give a laptop. get a laptop. change the world. for Simply Give and G1G1.
  4. Change the World : the Give 100 and Give 1000 programs in 2008. Two caps, lowercase 'the'

Project pages


see Activities and Activities/tmp

This is a description of sections, format, and style that are helpful in creating a project page that others can use and contribute to.

Collections and library/reading activities

  • ...

Software and interactive activities

  • ...

Data and other basic collections

  • Sound samples, sets of clipart
  • Software libraries, to be used by other software collections
  • Icon collections to be used to customize one's interface


Pages about organizations introduce the group, and should describe its engagement in education, connected digital networks, and access to knowledge, in all relevant languages.

Partners and the like

  • ...

Community groups and local chapters (see also #Regions below)

  • ...

Volunteers] and community members

  • ...


Articles about regional groups should describe the region and the groups and organizations in them, and the extent of deployments, educational efforts, and user groups in that region. They should link to specific pages for each regional chapter or user group. The general page about OLPC efforts in South Carolina, for instance, should be South Carolina, not OLPC South Carolina (which may exist if an organized group using that name exists; in the case of Illinois for instance that group would be ILXO rather than OLPC Illinois).

Article naming

Starting a new article

The article you're about to write already exists in the 20,000+ pages here: use the search box, also Google search, and browse Special:Categories to find it.

Titling a new article

Use a title that others will find and use.

  • Avoid capitalizing page titles unless a necessary proper noun. Use Content projects, not Content Projects.
  • Similarly, avoid running words together in CamelCase unless you are referring to a proper noun such as MediaWiki. This makes it easier to link words used normally in a sentence.
  • The name of an article should [be able to] appear in the first sentence describing its subject. Avoid article names that add extra features to the title, such as "Feature Browsing toolkit" -- call this Browsing toolkit and find another way to indicate it is a feature.
    • See also lead sentence style... you should mention the article name as early in the first sentence as possible, and mark it in bold. (Trick: If you make a wiki link to the current article name, it appears in bold — in this article [[OLPC:Style guide]] appears as OLPC:Style guide.)


On a similar note to Article naming, it's a good idea to make redirects to alternative capitalizations and common typos of page names. For instance, if you're starting Content projects, make redirects to Content Projects, Contentprojects, etc. (But there's no need for content projects; due to MediaWiki's automatic capitalization of the first letter, this goes to the same place as Content projects.)

Similarly, if you find yourself looking for a wikipage and assuming it's under another name which turns out to be a nonexistent page, redirect that page to the correct one when you find it. For instance, if you're looking for what eventually turns out to be Content projects and find, while looking along the way, that Projects for content is empty, redirect that page to Content projects.


In general, avoid subpages (??, note how Sugar Labs uses subpages extensively, e.g. 0.94/Feature_List); better to use a descriptive name which can be read out without a 'slash' somewhere in it. However, there are exceptions:

  • Archives of a page/talk page
  • A topic that's too big for one page, e.g. the 2012 Help Activity refresh.
  • Subpages for recurring meetings, such as OLPC:Volunteer Infrastructure Group/2008-08-17.
  • Dated versions of the same page ... though these should usually be without subpages as well, unless they are dated versions of large subsites, which only link to one another. For instance, if we were to make a "2006" version of Localization/www.laptop.org, that might go under Localization/2006/www.laptop.org... since there are many other pages that go along with it.
  • Subpages of user pages for half-finished notes, scratchwork, testing, and semi-private projects - although if it's at the point where other people can begin to understand and contribute to it, move it out of your user space into the main wiki area.

Subpages are often used when a set of hierarchical information is moved to a wiki. In these cases, the articles about that information should be named according to the nouns they describe; and the titles of the pages (see #Titles) should be mentioned as early in the first sentence of the page as possible. If you can't include the title of an article as written in a sentence, you may want to rename it.

Exceptions to this are usually made for essays and other notes made within user: and project: namespaces.

Preparing for the future

If you are starting a specific type of page and know that you will need to make general versions later, that's fine -- use the most generic name that is not already taken. likewise, if you are starting the "August 2007" version of a page, leave it at the general name until you have more than one instance, at which point you can start to move to archival page titles. This just helps ensure that any specific page-name is part of an ecology that includes more generic page names and overviews of the abstract topic at hand.

Links, classification, and structure

Links to other articles

Links can be listed in full, in which case you should replace any underscores in the link with a space. For instance, Style guide should not have an underscore — even though Style_guide links to the same page, the underscore is ugly.

MediaWiki links are case sensitive. However, MediaWiki will find a linked article regardless of the capitalization of its first letter. This feature lets you include page links in sentence flow, e.g. Join friends in testing to try out recent builds.


  • do NOT use H1 headers within a page (i.e., don't do =Header with a single equals on each side=). Start your hierarchy with ==H2 level header== within the body of the wiki article. H1 headers should be reserved for the page's title (like this page's OLPC:Style guide above); any further H1's should indicate the inclusion of an entire other page. Imagine what happens when you transclude one page at the end of another: this should make sense within a Table of Contents if you add an H1 header before it.
    • although this is a valid point, other wikis have solved it by adjusting header levels when transcluding. E.g. if a page is including at an H4 level, then any H1 heading in that page is mapped to H4, and so on.
  • As with article titles, only capitalize the first letter of the first word unless using proper nouns, for example ==Upcoming community events, not ==Upcoming Community Events.


Every page should belong to a category (multiple categorization is possible) so when creating or editing pages, try to find a good one.

You should never create a new category until you have located at least two pages to put in that category. Edit the new category's page to explain briefly its intent and any templates that categorize in it. When you create a new category, add it to existing categories so the category itself is discoverable.

Category names are usually plural — things in the category are activities, countries, messaging ideas, etc. And category titles should follow #Titling a new article conventions, thus "Category:Spanish deployments", not "Category:Spanish Deployment".


Write for translation

See also Guidelines for writing for eventual translation for a more detailed description of guidelines.

Keep sentences simple:

  • Avoid idioms and extended metaphors. Where metaphors are particularly useful, try to use one that is universal and has no double-meanings.
  • Avoid subclauses or long sentences.
  • Avoid long strings of adjectives or nouns.
  • Convert sentences in unusual tenses into ones in simple tenses with extra clarifying notes.

Write for posterity: avoid "currently", and date "will"

Wiki pages live forever. Every time you write, for example:

The content translation program, for which there is currently no organization...
These software packages currently depend on Orbit...
TamTam will feature 2 different tools...

you mislead future readers, and you make it nearly impossible for editors to tell if a page is out of date.

  • Unless the page's title is tied to a particular date, like "Meeting #3 notes" or "Curriculum Jam Fall 2007",
    don't use "currently" or "will" or any other phrase tied to a point in time, unless you date your statement with As of August 2008, ...

Keep words clear and unique

  • Avoid words with ambiguous meanings.
  • Long words with clear roots can be better than short words that are obscure or have many connotations

Specific words

"USB drive" or "USB flash drive"
"USB key" is confused with cryptographic concepts such as developer key, "stick" and "thumb" are non-standard.
first "Browse Activity", then just "Browse"
Activities aren't commands and are more than programs. So the first time a page or chapter mentions an activity, say "the Read Activity". Thereafter you can simply say "Read".

Write for easy editing

In normal paragraphs, MediaWiki does line breaking and forms paragraphs for you, so you can start each concept on a new line. Some old advice applies:

First, when you do the purely mechanical operations of typing, type so subsequent editing will be easy. Start each sentence on a new line. Make lines short, and break lines at natural places, such as after commas and semicolons, rather than randomly. Since most people change documents by rewriting phrases and adding, deleting and rearranging sentences, these precautions simplify any editing you have to do later.
— Brian W. Kernighan, 1974

This also when seeing what changed in a page, as the History tab shows changes to lines.

Obsolete and deprecated information

This wiki is stuffed with information from 2007 before there was final hardware, an official release, and any consensus on what/when/where/how OLPC would do things. This mass of outdated information makes the wiki harder to maintain, search, and understand.

If you think a page might be obsolete, mark it so at the top something like

Information is from 2007 and seems out-of-date, compare with Foo

If you're sure a page is obsolete,

 {{obsolete|link=[[better page]]}}
  • consider removing most of its [[Category:Foos]] annotations so obsolete pages don't show up in categories.
  • click the obsolete page's [What links here] in the navigation and replace links to it with better page

Once nothing links to the page, mark it with the {{delete}} template

 {{delete|2007 info no longer applies, nothing
          important links here, replaced by [[better page]]}}

Pre 8.2 information

As of December 2008, Release 8.2.0 is the latest stable release. However, many G1G1 2007 recipients have not upgraded, and some G1G1 2008 recipients are receiving laptops with Release 8.1.0 installed. We encourage users to upgrade to the latest release, {{Consider upgrading}} is a template that makes this recommendation.

So pages should start with the 8.2.0 information, then mention earlier behavior:

In Release 8.2.0, xyz works like this
In releases prior to 8.2.0, xyz worked like this
{{Consider upgrading}}

You should eliminate info that only applies to releases prior to [Release notes/7.1.0|Release 7.1.0]] ("ship.2", build 653).

Using advanced features


Are special pages intended to be invoked from other pages producing some result based on parameters provided or extracted from the including page. A template that just transcludes static text is not a template and should be treated as normal page. There's the Template:Sandbox to try new ideas on templates.

Always add a <noinclude> purpose... Usage ...</noinclude> block explaining the purpose of the template.

Templates should be tagged with the Category:Template or one of its subcategories within the <noinclude> block

Page transclusion

The composing of an article based on other pages is a very powerful idea but that can quickly get out of hand as interdependencies develop (not to mention the complication for future editors to actually find the right page to edit). Still, it's a powerful (and sometimes complicated) way to reuse context in several places.

If a page is intended for transclusion in other pages, you should probably put any categorization or semantic annotation in it within a <noinclude>...</noinclude section, otherwise every page that transcludes it will get categorized and annotated.

Semantic annotations

This wiki has the Semantic MediaWiki and Semantic Forms extensions. These let you annotate information in wiki pages so you can browse it and other pages can query it. See Semantic MediaWiki for the pages using it, and cautions.

Visual design of pages

Some of the principles in the HIG apply across the board. For instance, walter is unhappy with the insertion of navigational elements (or is it just visual attractions?) in the middle of a page; see template talk:support-nav for a recent discussion.

Article and visual flow

Use of color

External links