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This thread was archived on 3 July 2008 by Skill.

I want to add a supplement to our Style guide to dictate how guides (Quest mostly) should be written. There have been recent changes which I find particularly appalling from a readability/grammar standpoint.

My draft is found at User:Endasil/Quest style guide. Here's a few examples that summarize the article:

Bad:

  • Reldo is located in the Varrock Library. The player should talk to him. Reldo will warn the player that Manbearpig is about to attack!

Slightly better (Bulleting):

  • The player should talk to Reldo. He is located in the Varrock Library. Reldo will warn the player that Manbearpig is about to attack!

Slightly better (2nd person):

  • You should talk to Reldo. He is located in the Varrock Library. Reldo will warn you that Manbearpig is about to attack!

Better (Imperative):

  • Talk to Reldo, located in the Varrock Library. Reldo will warn you that Manbearpig is about to attack!


The main theme of the guidelines are that, even though we are an encyclopedia, we are also a player manual. That means that some articles will not be encyclopedic in nature, but rather manual-like in nature. All these changes from "you" to "the player" are not written with a user in mind. You wouldn't write a manual to assemble an Ikea chair, saying "The customer should now screw in screw D9 into hole A7," would you? Comments please, there's been enough edits that I've wanted to undo recently due to bad style, but we don't have a very good style guide for this. Endasil (Talk) @  23:32, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

You're right, it is a lot better that way. I've noticed that users sometimes change to what you say is good to what is bad. I say add it to the Style Guide. User:C Teng/sig 23:43, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

In the imperative sentence can't you just totally remove the word "you" in this case? to say "Reldo will warn that Manbearpig is about to attack!" I think it works well, but I haven't taken an english class in....ummm, omg, like 20 years lol.--Degenret01 00:01, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

I've seen some articles that simple replace the word "you" with the words "the player", and it sounds awful when I'm reading through the article after such a revision. In fact, the earlier indefinite article works much better. BTW, I do agree that a better style guide can help, but it isn't quite so easy as a cut and paste, but rather requires some serious editorial skills and command of the English language. For example with the above sentence:
    • Speak to Reldo, who is located in the Varrock Library. Reldo warns that Manbearpig is ready for an attack!
I'm not even saying this is perfect, but it does away with the "you" or "The Player" and allows the sentence to flow better. I've noticed that in many places where "the player" is used, it should be a more indefinite article such as "a player" or "players" as well. Modern English doesn't use a hard article such as "the" all that often, particularly compared to other germanic or for that matter even latin-derived languages. --Robert Horning 06:18, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Personally, the only time I've ever thought that saying something like "players" was acceptable was when it actually referenced players. Such as "players often find this boss difficult." Give me a sentence where you ever use a singular player, and I'll make it better (IMO) without. I think we should always use second person over "player". Endasil (Talk) @  12:27, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
I always wondered why there were so many different styles of writing. 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, etc. I had been using 2nd person tone for editing articles, until I was told not to use the word "you". Then, I started using the "3rd person" style ("the players should, they could, they may"), and the article got "undo-ed" for bad writing style. Admins, can you guys make up your minds? LOL. I really like to clean-up articles. Especially messy ones, like quest guides. I add sections, make them neater, etc. But at the same time, I editted the style: removing "you"s, and introducing "better" substitutes ("they", "the player", etc.) In my opinion, most articles should use the third person tone (i.e. NPCs, Monsters, Items). However, when it comes to Quest guides, I'm at a blank. Using third person tone make the guide seem more serious/professional/encyclopedic, but can be an eyesore. Using 2nd person tone, with "you" make it seem personal, and un-professional. I agree we're helping players with quest (by writing "manuals"), but we should distinguish ourselves from other fansites. After all, we are wikians. --  az talk   14:22, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

My quick two cents: Aren't the things that are supposed to make us different from every other fansites are that 1) anyone can edit and 2) we're an encyclopedia? If we're an encyclopedia, shouldn't we use an encyclopedic tone, which at the very least requires the third person?--Diberville 15:43, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, it sounds better. We want to be the best encyclopedia for RuneScape, even if it's different from other encyclopedias. If you look on armour, there's even a tag that says it should be in the third person, which I think we all disagree with, too. User:C Teng/sig 20:21, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
This was added to the Armour article by one user, and I disagree with it completely: "Strategies should be in 3rd person tone ("The player should...") instead of 2nd person tone ("You should..."), and should not sound commanding ("Do this/that...")". We have nowhere stated this as policy, and it should not be taken as such. In fact, we recently featured Kennith's Concerns, which used only commanding tenses. Endasil (Talk) @  22:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
To Diberville: even if we strive to be an encyclopedia (which isn't necessary for a Wiki...just because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia doesn't mean Wikis are supposed to be), when we add guides or strategies, they are unencyclopedic by nature. There's the reason that Wikipedia has a policy against things written like a user manual...they aren't encyclopedic! So we are already differentiating ourselves from an encyclopedia, in that we are more acting like a game manual with encyclopedic tendencies. You have to ask yourself: what is the virtue of writing quest guides like an encyclopedia entry? If there is no virtue, by RuneScape:Ignore all rules, I say we write it in a way that is digestible for English speakers. The whole idea of writing "The player" all over the place makes us look like illiterate fools.
I do have some experience in writing technical documentation. I'm in an engineering program. Here's a document that backs me up: [1]. While almost everything in that document applies directly to our quest guides, there are a few paragraphs labelled "Writing style" which I'd like to quote directly. The first and second paragraphs convey exactly what I'm trying to say. The last paragraph seems to counter what Robert was suggesting. Bolding was my addition, for effect.

Writing style.

The way you actually write instructions, sentence by sentence, may seem contradictory to what previous writing classes have taught you. However, notice how "real-world" instructions are written—they use a lot of imperative (command, or direct-address) kinds of writing; they use a lot of "you." That's entirely appropriate. You want to get in your reader's face, get her or his full attention. For that reason, instruction-style sentences sound like these: "Now, press the Pause button on the front panel to stop the display temporarily" and "You should be careful not to ..."

A particular problem involves use of the passive voice in instructions. For some weird reason, some instructions sound like this: "The Pause button should be depressed in order to stop the display temporarily." Not only are we worried about the Pause button's mental health, but we wonder who's supposed to depress the thing (are you talkin' to me?). Or consider this example: "The Timer button is then set to 3:00." Again, as the person following these instructions, you might miss this; you might think it is simply a reference to some existing state, or you might wonder, "Are they talking to me?" Almost as bad is using the third person: "The user should then press the Pause button." Again, it's the old double-take: you look around the room and wonder, "Who me?" (For more detail, see passive-voice problem.)

Another of the typical problems with writing style in instructions is that people seem to want to leave out articles: "Press Pause button on front panel to stop display of information temporarily" or "Earthperson, please provide address of nearest pizza restaurant." Why do we do this? Do we all secretly want to be robots? Anyway, be sure to include all articles (a, an, the) and other such words that we'd normally use in instructions.

http://www.io.com/~hcexres, Online Technical Writing: Instructions

Endasil (Talk) @  22:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

I'll admit that I even "break" my own rules here. I got involved with writing Perils of Ice Mountain on the day the quest came out, and it was a sort of fun experience writing a quest guide when such a guide didn't already exist... and proof of where the power of a wiki can be over a more static website.
Most technical writing is incredibly dry and to be honest, is something seldom read by anybody in part because it is so dry and boring. As an engineer I was also a part of a successful proposal with my former employer to hire somebody with an English Literature degree and a strong basis in liberal arts to help write technical manuals, explicitly because most engineers don't even know how to write a good memo to their immediate supervisor much less to any customers.
In one case, just to see if anybody was even bothering to read the manual, we put in a postcard that even had a business reply mail postal mark (so they didn't even have to pay postage) and a promise of a $100 drawing if you sent the thing in. We got a flood of one post card out of about 3000 manuals that were sent out to customers (on $100,000+ products, which is why there was a relatively low volume). Based on most phone calls I had to answer when doing technical support, I would say most people don't read the manuals even when they are comparatively well written.
More to the point here and going back to my experiences with writing the quest guide as I was playing it, a more informal style seems to be the natural way to write things. The quest guides certainly need to be something that others would want to read, and it should flow as if it is written from one friend trying to speak to another and help you through the quest. The goal is that it should be read and not necessarily something to impress an English professor. The real question then is how can the quest guides be improved to achieve this goal and not necessarily sound like a poorly written recipe for Apple pie. I'm also more than willing to admit that I'm wrong here, as long as we can achieve this basic goal. --Robert Horning 04:02, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Regardless of the tone or style that should be used, whichever one we do use should be used uniformly throughout the Wiki for cohesion and uniformity. As long as it's not a "u should go up to McGrbrs wood l8tr to get red worms, lol" style, I'll be fine with it and I don't find that the quality diminshes or increases whether it be second person indicative or imperetive or third person using definite or indefinite articles.--Diberville 13:14, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Bland?

Another thing that bothers about our (or any other fansite's) quest guides is that it lacks details and sounds bland. It's sad to see that the guide's only goal is for players to complete the quest, not to enjoy and cherish the quest itself, and "live" through the quest. To me, everything seems robotic as I'm instructed to "Walk here... jump there.." just like a robot. Some quest guides I've come across even has talk options to choose from: "Choose this option when you talk to him:" Since we're given the answers to these options, we just obey them blindly, without even reading the conversation that takes place between the NPC and the character. I admit, I've done it myself. I always wondered what would happen if I chose differently, or if I took the other path. Even as a manual, we should include the "WHY", not just the "HOW". That's what makes an article complete. I found this walkthrough quite easy to read: Tomb Raider: Anniversary - Qualopec It provides the details, and has a nice flow to it. (I wonder what style is being used? Imperative, 2nd person or 3rd person?)

  az talk   02:07, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Quest guides should be more about the "WHY". User:C Teng/sig 01:22, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
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