Judgepedia:General writing guidelines
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This article includes suggested guidelines for writing any article on Judgepedia.
When you're deciding whether or not to include some information in an article, questions to ask yourself are:
- Is it current? If the story is about an attack ad on a judge from two election cycles ago, the answer is probably not. If the story is about how a judge ruled in a case from five years ago in a way that will help readers understand how the judge thinks, it is probably an important addition to the article.
- What does this tell the reader? Suppose you have a story about a special interest group attacking a judge. If this story doesn't tell you anything about the judge other than they were targeted by a special interest group, it probably doesn't merit inclusion in the article. Writers (and editors) have to exercise editorial discretion when determining just how relevant a story is (or isn't).
Providing references to reliable external resources is an important way for you to let your readers know that what you have written in the article is trustworthy and credible. At the same time, you don't want to copy what your source says, word for word--although you may occasionally quote a few sentences, attributing the quotation you choose to the source where you found it. When you write on Judgepedia about a judge or a court, it should be summarized or written about in your own words, with a footnote to any outside reliable sources.
When working on Judgepedia, you may find that an article you wish to write about a subject that is already covered on Wikipedia. In general, Wikipedia may not be used a reference for any article on Judgepedia.
If you do want to include on Judgepedia an article that already exists on Wikipedia, be aware of these guidelines:
- When Judgepedia started, Judgepedia and Wikipedia both used the GFDL copyright license. In June 2009, the way that text and images on Wikipedia are licensed for sharing changed. As a result, some of the text and images on Wikipedia are now licensed under the Wikipedia:Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (or CC-BY-SA). The CC-BY-SA license and the GFDL license are not compatible. Some text on Wikipedia has been imported only under CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-compatible license. It cannot be reused under the GFDL license. On Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA text is identified as such either on the page footer, in the page history or the discussion page of the article that utilizes the text. Every image on Wikipedia has a description page which indicates the license under which it is released or, if it is non-free, the rationale under which it is used. This means that from June 2009 on, as opposed to in the past, since Wikipedia and Judgepedia have different copyright licenses, you cannot copy text here from Wikipedia, unless you are able to establish that the Wikipedia text you are copying is still licensed at Wikipedia under the GFDL license, as is still the case with some Wikipedian text/images. Prior to June 2009, you could copy text here from Wikipedia (and Wikipedia could copy text from Judgepedia) as long as proper attribution was given by noting on your article that it was copied from Wikipedia and providing a link to the article on Wikipedia you copied from and to Wikipedia's copyright.
- Second, you can create your own article and incorporate sections from Wikipedia but only if you can establish that the sections of text you are copying are licensed at Wikipedia under the GFDL license. Then, the proper disclaimer, which in either case belongs at the bottom of the article, should read "Portions of this article have been adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice can be found here." In either case, the link in the part of the disclaimer that reads "This article was copied from Wikipedia" should link back to the source article in Wikipedia.
If a date is important to the story, it can be worked into the article. If a judge got a DWI, for example, it might be pertinent to note if it was in college in 1978 or six weeks before an upcoming election. Further to the point of relevance above, if the event happened in college in 1978, it's probably not relevant.
Writers and editors must take great care writing about anyone, but especially about living people. Whether you agree or disagree with, like or dislike, a particular judge or other person you're writing about on Judgepedia, they deserve to be written about with sensitivity, care and respect. Anything you write must adhere to all applicable laws in the United States and to Judgepedia policies, especially:
Our job is to write articles that are informative, compelling, accurate, fair and balanced. Writers and editors must be firm about using high quality references. Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons — whether the material is negative, positive, or just questionable — should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion, from Judgepedia articles, talk pages, user pages, and project space.
Biographies of living persons (BLPs) must be written conservatively, with regard for the subject's privacy. Judgepedia is an encyclopedia; this is not the place to be sensationalist, or to spread rumors or claims about people's lives. The possibility of harm to living subjects is one of the important factors to be considered when exercising editorial judgment.
This policy applies equally to biographies of living persons and to biographical material about living persons on other pages. The burden of proof for any edit on Judgepedia, but especially for edits about living persons, rests firmly on the shoulders of the person who adds or restores the material.
Material we publish about living people can affect their lives and the lives of their families, colleagues, and friends. Biographical material must therefore be written with strict adherence to our content policies.
Contact the Editor of Judgepedia via e-mail at email@example.com.