Forum:Making text on item pages less cluttered and repetitive

From Old School RuneScape Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Forums: Redwood Grove > Making text on item pages less cluttered and repetitive


Suggestion: Style change: Make the pages on this Wiki - the ones about items - less cluttered and more like a list of useful snippets of information.

Reasoning: At the moment, "walls of text" can be found on (some of) the Wiki pages. Often, it is not that easy or quick to find the information the reader is looking for. In my view, this is because there is a lot of info that is unnecessary or unnecessarily repeated. Or because there are a lot of unnecessary words that 'bloat' the pages. This 'drowns' the more important info.

Example: https://oldschool.runescape.wiki/w/Raw_chicken Please view that page, specifically the main/first text (the lead paragraph).

According to the Style guide, "Try to make the article's topic the subject of the first sentence in the article." I agree this can be helpful, though I believe less so on pages about (simple) items. I would suggest reducing a text like this to shorter, more straightforward information. Like bullet points with snippets of information. This way, it will be easier for the reader to find the specific info he or she is looking for.

A possible example of the lead paragraph on Raw chicken rewritten:

« Qualification: uncooked food [It obviously is an item (easy to deduce from the page style, lack of combat stats and such?) so "an uncooked food item" does not seem necessary. Otherwise: item, uncooked food (?)]

Obtaining:

  • Kill a Chicken, a Rooster or the Evil Chicken, or another npc listed below.
  • Thieve from a H.A.M. Member or H.A.M. Guard.
  • Buy in a shop (Rufus in Canifis, Wydin in Port Sarim *).
  • Take from a crate at the back of Wydin's shop in Port Sarim. >Unlimited supply, yet one by one via a selection menu. Wearing White apron required.< [Perhaps this info should be placed (solely) on the page about that shop?]

[*There are more shops that sell this item (see Shop locations at the bottom of the page), yet for some reason those are not mentioned in this first paragraph. Therefore, I would suggest to simply (re)direct to that part of the page where Shop locations are mentioned: "• Buy in a shop (see Shop locations/see below)."]

Uses:

  • Cook on a fire or range. Requires level 1 Cooking. Result: Burnt chicken or Cooked chicken (30 xp). (100% success rate at lvl 34.)
  • In several quests.

[The specific section on Quests could be shortened as well. Example:

  • Recipe for Disaster (during and after): to access the lair of the Evil chicken. [Redirect to the page about the Lair. There, one should be able to read about the dragons.]
  • Eadgar's Ruse: 5 are needed to make a fake man, which is used to fool the trolls.
  • Druidic Ritual."]

Notes:

  • Popular amongst new players, since a) chickens are easy to kill, b) chickens are found around Lumbridge [or: in several locations surrounding Lumbridge], and c) any player can attempt to cook it (although players with low Cooking levels risk burning it). »

< On a side note: some bits and pieces of information 'flow over' to other pages. For example, the page on Raw chicken informs the reader about the amount in stock at some shops that sell Raw chicken. If you are after that kind of information, it may be welcomed, but it 'bloats' the page -and- might cause issues should those shops ever be changed. In that scenario, the respective pages on the shops will most likely be edited, but will 'secondary pages' like Raw chicken as well? In any case, it would lead to more editing work. Isn't it better to 'keep your eggs in one basket'?

(Another example: Aggie the Witch, who makes dyes. The page about her ( https://oldschool.runescape.wiki/w/Aggie ) tells us how to make the dyes (or rather: what she needs to make them for you). In that case, what is the use of the respective dye-pages? It seems to be merely a repetition of the same information.)

Wouldn't it be advised to 'just' let the reader visit the respective pages to check for 'secondary information' like that? That seems easy enough to me. >

Obviously, some pages would be more suitable to 'accept' this kind of change than others. A page about a quest would require more text and (thorough) explanation. Such a page would likely not benefit from the format I am proposing here. (Besides, there are step-by-step guides for them.)

Cheers, Kreosious (talk) 16:55, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Discussion[edit source]

Comment - I regularly rewrite articles for clarity, concisness, and mentioning important/useful facts, I agree this page is not great quality. However, I believe that is strictly because it has barely been changed since its early iterations on 2013-03-04

This is a sandboxed version of how I would change it. It is a couples minutes attempting to rewrite an article like this as I normally would while keeping some of the current "useful" information. Wording/Grammar on that page subject to change. Let me know what you think of this variation of it. I do have more thoughts, but I'm curious to see where you are coming from. Choppe|T 18:28, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Response - Thank you for responding, Choppe. Your version of the page is much better than how it is written right now. Unfortunately, it is not what I had in mind. That would be more like this: https://oldschool.runescape.wiki/w/User:Kreosious/Sandbox/Raw_chicken2. (Not visually perfect, certainly the first bullet points next to the image...)

Examples of some things I do not like about your edited page (please don't see these as an attack on you or your work, that is not my intention): • "Raw chicken is..." "They are no longer..." "Raw chicken are mainly obtained..." "... crate with unlimited Raw chicken." "Raw chicken is used..." The thing is: the entire page is about Raw chicken. Everything on this page revolves (or: should revolve) around that item, unless stated otherwise. The title of the page and the picture remind the reader that he/she is reading about that very item. • Mentioning all of the shops that sell this item in the first paragraph seems to 'bloat' that paragraph (and thus: the page). Why not simply redirect to the table under Shop locations?

I have the following gripe with the existing Raw chicken page in particular, and as such with a lot of the pages on this Wiki: the use of (full) sentences.

On one hand, I understand that writing a "story" about an item makes it easy to learn and read about said item, especially for newcomers. On the other hand, those full sentences make the page less accessible, as I see it. Not only to (somewhat more) veteran players of the game, but to newcomers as well. Instead of a quick 'overview', they get... well... how it is written right now. The user/reader has to 'dig' for the information they are after. The more one has to read, the less time they can spend in the game. I believe many players are not here to read an awful lot. (Certainly not outside of the game. I suppose in-game dialogue would be more acceptable.) In my eyes, a lot of items do not lend themselves to 'large' amounts of text* (unless there is (a lot of) lore connected to it, but then one could presumably redirect to a dedicated page). Unlike pages about quests, cities, regions, bosses etc.

(*Of course, the amount of text on the Raw chicken page is not at all that much. But I hope the "problem" I try to describe here is at least somewhat properly conveyed by my rather poorly written thoughts.)

A bullet point list, like a catalogue (?), could be more useful in the long run (obviously only on certain pages). Are editors here to write essays (like this post and comment of mine "-_-)? Or do we want to provide the users/readers with correct, useful, and - in this day and age - quick (easy to absorb) information? In my view, there will plenty of room for editors (to learn) to write proper English; if not on this page, then on another.

To answer the question where I am coming from: I've started playing OSRS again since a couple of months, as a F2P player. I've played Runescape (2) back in the day, at least a decade ago. At the moment, I'm cleaning out my bank. To decide which items are (more) useful to keep, I read the Wiki pages. Example: Cooked meat has more uses than Cooked chicken, thus I will dispose of the chicken and prefer to keep the meat. My point: a direct comparison between items cannot (easily) be made, because I first have to pinpoint the information I'm after on every page. This is largely because the information is "hidden" in full sentences and not 'nicely' separated (like I tried to do in my sandbox version of the Raw chicken page). It's all 'packed together' in one 'lump'.

But: perhaps this suggestion of mine is an 'attack' on the very being or core of this Wiki, and therefore non-negotiable. Maybe, what I have in mind would or should be for some other website, one that is/would be fundamentally different. If that is the case, then I apologise for wasting your (anyone who is reading this) time. I suppose this thread could then be locked/archived/deleted. Kreosious (talk) 10:31, 10 February 2021 (UTC)


Comment: Usually trimming fat is a good thing. But after the introduction of skilling infoboxes it seems a few item pages now have the opposite problem. Since much of the information can be found in an infobox it sometimes leaves item pages with just one sentence. This seems very naked, so I can't say I mind a little unnecessary text in those cases. The Arrow shaft page is an example of a page that could in theory have been cut down to just one sentence. --The scribe Eek, a goblin! 21:45, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Response: Thanks for your response, The scribe. I agree nakedness should be avoided, but not for the sake of avoiding nakedness. If there is not much to add/tell, it would be poor quality if things are simply repeated - if you ask me, that is. The first paragraph of the Arrow shaft page could, for example, be more of a short summary of the item and/or (an explanation of) the Creation infobox. Perhaps I'll create an edited sandbox page to show what I would have in mind. But it would be based on my reasoning in my answer to Choppe's comment - which would result in a possibly unacceptable alteration of the Arrow shaft page... Kreosious (talk) 10:31, 10 February 2021 (UTC)


Oppose - I don't believe this is a good format for a wiki to use. Proper prose seems better in all respects to replacing everything with bullet points. zTUG5mD.png Crow 653  22:43, 17 February 2021 (UTC)

Response - Thank you, Crow 653. That is what I was wondering as well; see the last lines of my response to Choppe. So although a change like this could be unacceptable on this Wiki, I do not agree that prose is better "in all respects". I do believe there can be situations in which a quick glance (like in a compendium) can be more effective than having a 'thorough' read.

Then again, I'm beginning to wonder whether this topic I started is about a "problem" at all. I suppose there are a lot of bigger concerns out there. Time spent here means less time to address those, obviously... Kreosious (talk) 19:15, 18 February 2021 (UTC)


Oppose - I definitely agree that pages like Raw chicken and Aggie are a bit bloated as far as prose goes. There are a lot of "old" pages like that, where they are overdue for a cleanup. However, I don't think the solution is to convert the pages from prose to bullet points. That would be a huge amount of work, not only to initially convert item pages, but to then upkeep them as others edit them. Certainly people will add more than what would be considered "useful" info. Personally, I don't see that as a bad thing. Part of the wiki's purpose is to be a source for any kind of information you want about the game, and information useful to one person is not necessarily useful to another person. However, I definitely see where you're coming from as far as having info parsed out so you don't have to read a block of text to find it. I think we are generally moving in that direction through things like {{Recipe}} and the shops list on item pages. If someone wants to know how to make an item or where to buy an item, they can skip to those sections, and we can probably remove the info from the first paragraph. I think improving these templates and creating new ones for things like item spawns is a cleaner approach that has other benefits like being able to create tables with SMW. - Andmcadams (talk) 04:25, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Response - Thanks for your insight, Andmcadams. Mind you, I was and still am only talking about certain pages - the ones with "simple" items like chicken, meat, ashes, pot, bucket, et cetera. It'll definitely be a lot of work, but I would see it as a long-term goal. Furthermore, these are pages that are rarely edited (see other comments) because the respective items rarely change in-game (if ever). As I see it, the upkeep would not be that much work.

When it comes to "simple" items like these, there's only so much you can clarify. What I mean is: yes, whenever a person checks a page, they will do so in search for specific information - which will almost always be the case. However, the page should not contain more info than what can be done with the item in-game. (So I don't really understand your words "any kind of information you want about the game". If you're talking about, for example, remarks or notes ('fun facts', trivia) then I agree there should be room for those, but not 'intertwined with' or in between the 'critical' info that allows you to (make decisions to) progress in the game. Example: the page about Bronze axe informs that in the past it could break - in between more useful information.) When it comes to my use of the words 'more info': I'm mostly talking about repetition of quite literally the same words; see the first few lines of my response to Choppe's comment.

I agree that things like a simple reference to the section containing a list of shops would be adequate. But removing that info from the first paragraph seems to be a tricky business, judging from, for example, the comment of The scribe. Kreosious (talk) 19:15, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Response - Personally I think there is value in attempting to have consistent style across the wiki, and changing the layout of simple items only is a pretty drastic difference from most other items and most other pages on the wiki. I think I'm unclear on what you mean by "simple" items, as I originally thought you meant most or all item pages (for consistency). It doesn't seem very clear from your post that this is intended for only a small subset of items since the comparison is made against something like a quest guide. I might be overestimating the number of item pages you want to change, but considering there are over 7000 item pages, even a small percentage of those is a sizeable amount. If you are considering something like Pot to be a simple item, I think that percentage will be quite high.
I'm definitely not opposed to reordering info to perhaps do something like make all the important info clumped together in the lead paragraphs. I just believe it should be done in a way that is consistent with the current style guide when it makes sense rather than doing something completely different. I think I initially misunderstood and thought that you wanted to remove information from pages that was considered non-critical or useless by most people, like the info added by this edit, rather than just move the information to a different position. Just removing repeated words to make a paragraph less wordy but still flow fine is great as far as I'm concerned, but I think taking it to the point of incomplete sentences is a little much. In the past, the wiki has had complaints about improper spelling/grammar, so I don't think there is consensus among readers that bullet points or incomplete sentences would necessarily be better. Again, I think the current style should be followed when cleaning up the pages.
I can understand where Scribe is coming from with that comment. I think it depends on what pages exactly you look at. I don't mind a bit of extra text in the lead paragraph, but I can also see it being a bit confusing if two of the five shops an item is sold at are the only ones mentioned in that paragraph. - Andmcadams (talk) 14:24, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
Response - I have to agree with you in the fact that consistent style is important. Furthermore, Choppe (further down) made a fair point about where to draw the line when defining "simple" items. (I've read this comment of yours after I've read that one.) Yes, I suppose the percentage will be high - so not a good idea of mine to change the format.
For the record, I've been refining my sandbox page. Although it might be considered a tiny bit better, incomplete sentences likely remain an issue.
It all comes down to the fact that I had the wrong "idea" about the first paragraph (see my response to Choppe's comment, further down). It should be more like a summary of what is presented further down the page, paired with information that does not (yet) have a place of its own. In that scenario, I think it would be sufficient to direct to the shops in the Shops section, rather than mentioning one or a few of those in the summary arbitrarily. (Because: what would be the criteria for that one or those few to be mentioned there?) Kreosious (talk) 22:21, 21 February 2021 (UTC)


Oppose - I've looked at your proposed sandbox, and while it might be efficient in delivering information, having some pages differ in format between this and the current standard on other content pages makes it far more confusing in the end - and keeping these styles separated might be annoying/difficult if new editors that aren't aware of the difference. If there were a way to reliably convert all pages of similar type over to this then I would be more up for a debate about it, but I don't see that happening as, especially on longer pages, it would substantially increase page length and probably be harder to parse the information. I agree that quickly accessing information is great, but that is accomplished by the other portions of the page — or that will be accomplished in the future. Because of its all-or-nothingness to me, if I were a new player(maybe not a returning player), I would prefer to read full sentences rather than having bullet points thrown at me. Note that that is more of an exaggeration of the feeling, but is my general instinct to it. Choppe|T 02:03, 21 February 2021 (UTC)

Response - I've been refining my sandbox page (well before most of the comments here were posted), but the points you bring up still stand. I agree differing formats can be confusing to both readers and editors. (Although one could argue that pages about (simple) items could then be easily distinguishable.) The argument that page length is increased is not that powerful in my opinion. To me, that sounds like the Wiki rather caters to desktop users than to mobile users (wide screen vs. 'high screen'). (Also compare: narrow columns in newspapers, done for the purpose of somewhat easier/faster reading.) Besides, the tables that list the item sources already lengthen the page quite a bit. However, I do agree that the information as it can be read on the Raw chicken page right now, is more condensed, leaves less white space and looks prettier. (I still don't think it's as accessible, though.)

On the one hand, I see where you are coming from with your statement (or feeling) that new players would prefer full sentences. On the other, I wonder if this is true. The text dialogues in RuneScape could sometimes be overwhelming. Would said player like to be confronted with even more (full sentence) reading outside the game? I really don't know; I'm just wondering here.

"that [quickly accessing information] is accomplished by the other portions of the page — or that will be accomplished in the future." What do you mean by this? That there will be more focus on the tables about the Products and Item sources, and an increase on the Wiki in referring to those, at the 'cost' of shorter first paragraphs? If this is indeed what you mean: not everyone in this discussion section seems to agree with that... :/

In any case, we can agree that there is no place for a rigorous change like this - in any case not in the foreseeable future. Kreosious (talk) 13:28, 21 February 2021 (UTC)

The lengthening is more based on how I read/parse pages, I'm unsure if it is normal or not, but I will read upward from the bottom looking at links far before actually reading stuff. This causes your design to take much longer (for me). Another issue is defining and separating WHAT is a "simple" item, you've named a few, but where is the line drawn, what if (somehow, but unlikely) an update occurs to make that item not simple anymore by the definition established. Expand the definition and add more pages to it or convert it BACK to its original form?
I think the tables are a different thing entire when it comes to page length specifically because they have h2/h3 headers and table headers defining the information included which is exactly the same on every page. That could be achieved to an extent with your design, but again its not exact, the information is not uniform and generally requires words to explain.
What I mean by other potions of the page accomplishing a goal is experienced readers who know what they want skip to the automatically generated data if its available and return to the top later if that data is not sufficient. Ultimately there is a drive to set information on one page, store that in SMW, and then on other pages be able to automatically table-ise that data. For instance on raw chicken, quests uses could eventually be turned into a table, not to remove it from text, but to establish a location on the page that it WILL be always IF that data exists. The same goes for finding them in crate in the food store, there isn't currently a way to do this, but there will be as more scenery gets documented on the wiki. This does not remove it from the text, but adds it to the standardized sections. Ultimately it feels like bulletizing this information turns it into more of the sections below, whilst efficient, isn't the entire point of this section IMO. I can only explain it as more relaxed I suppose, to introduce the reader to the item - the efficiency and throwing data at a reader comes in the lower portion of the page.
I personally wouldn't totally mind the text being trimmed to only include things that aren't in the tables below, which does lead to nakedness that I don't mind that, but I recognise its not helful/useful for wiki-user-newbies which is why I do my best to avoid my personal preference when it is detrimental to the information provided.Choppe|T 14:04, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
You made a good point there, about the boundaries of the 'group' "simple items".
I think the (my) issue is clearer to me now, thank you. What I have been preaching should actually be "reversed", the opposite. I now see it like this (with some of your words, rephrased): the first paragraph should be (like) a summary of what is presented in the tables and standardized sections further down the page. Information that has no place in the already existing tables and sections, "should" - in due time - be placed in its own table and/or section. Until that moment, that information should be placed in the first paragraph. (I suppose it "should" ideally be positioned below the summarizing part of the first paragraph, for easy "identification and processing" in the future. Although this would probably cause problems and unnecessary repitition of words, so it is questionable whether this would be a viable option...) Kreosious (talk) 22:21, 21 February 2021 (UTC)