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New editors often make some rather common mistakes when attempting to further the progress of the UESP. While understandable - as learning from mistakes helps us become better people - the following guide will aid in helping to prevent those mistakes that ought to be avoided:
Helping in the Wrong Way
- Don't write in first-person. One of the most common mistakes made by well-intentioned editors is the submittal of information from a first-person point of view. This usually occurs when an editor seeks to share an example of something that happened to them in-game to further illustrate or clarify a point. These inclusions should be modified to a second or third-person point of view that addresses the reader. When describing gameplay, second-person perspective is often the most useful; when providing general background information, third-person perspective is preferable.
- First person is "I must defeat the Orc..."
- Second person is "You must defeat the Orc..."
- Third person is "The player must defeat the Orc...", "He must defeat the Orc..." or "Bjorn must defeat the Orc..."
- Don't give details on leveled loot or creatures. In Oblivion and Skyrim, most of the loot you pick up is randomly generated and leveled; similarly, most creatures you encounter are leveled. Therefore, in general, it is not useful to fill in information on where you found a 'Ring of Perfection' or a skill book, because it is very unlikely that any other reader will ever find it there. (Specific places that have been listed for items such as Skill Books and Unique Items are for the rare cases of non-random loot, and have been verified using the Construction Set/Creation Kit). Also, filling in that you met two spriggans, three will-o-the-wisps, and a land dreugh in a given mine is not helpful, because other readers will not meet the same creatures. If you suspect that you have found non-random loot/creatures, put the information on the talk page and other editors can then verify the information.
- Don't provide statistics from third-party mods. Several popular mods make widespread changes to the game statistics, including changing the creatures you will encounter, changing the characteristics of magical items, and changing the level requirements for daedric quests. Given the infinite number of possible mods, it is impossible for this site to document all of the statistics for mods. Even for official mods, most of their specifics are only provided on the page for that mod. If you see a discrepancy between posted information and your game, only make corrections if you are sure that a mod is not responsible for the discrepancy.
- Don't create a new article if one already exists. Follow the recommendations at Starting New Pages before creating a new article. In particular, if an article on a topic already exists, edit that article and improve it instead of creating a new, redundant article. If information is missing from the article, then add it to that article. Creating a duplicate article on the same topic will inevitably lead to your new article being deleted: two articles that provide the same information are not necessary, and preference will be given to the existing article because it has an edit history that needs to be preserved.
Article Ownership and Copyright
- Articles are not owned by their creators. Individual editors do not own the articles that they submit to the site. In other words, if you choose to create a new UESP article, it is not "your" article. Every time you edit a UESP article, there is a warning stating: "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here." Other editors will inevitably modify any new article, often transforming it into something completely different from the original version. The creator of an article has no greater control over the article than any other editor on the site. Furthermore, new article creation is not a badge of honor that will lead to greater recognition within the UESP community. Other members will look at your complete contribution history rather than at a list of "pages I created" on your user page. And other members are most likely to be impressed by edits that improve existing articles, because those edits are more challenging and show a greater commitment to the wiki spirit of collaboration.
- Do not copy content from UESP to other sites or from other sites to the UESP. Content on wikis (and on websites in general) is not freely available to be copied from one place to another. All content on this site is covered by legal copyright which dictates the procedures that must be followed in order to copy UESP content elsewhere. Otherwise, copying articles (either verbatim or paraphrased) is illegal and constitutes plagiarism. Ignoring the legal requirements because you don't understand them (or because your friend told you to ignore them) is not a valid excuse; if you don't understand copyright law then don't try to copy content.
- Don't even copy images from other sites. Most Elder Scrolls images are taken from a Bethesda game and therefore are copyrighted by Bethesda; websites use the images under Fair Use or Fair Dealing clauses. That still does not mean that images can freely be copied here from other websites. Taking content from other sites is still plagiarism, and therefore ethically unacceptable regardless of the legal details. UESP's community prefers to have members create and upload their own original content; many community members are willing to create any screenshots needed for the wiki's articles. In other words, if you feel that an article needs an image, create it yourself or ask another member to create it; don't take it from another site.
UESP Compared to Other Websites
- The UESPWiki is operated by the community. Unlike many Elder Scrolls communities that are run by administrators and moderators, the UESP is ultimately run by the community who edits it. Every editor is, in their own way, a "moderator", as every editor can amend content on almost every page. Although the UESP does employ administrators to help perform maintenance tasks, they do not have the authority to override the consensus of the community.
- We sort pages into different namespaces. Unlike other wikis (notably Wikipedia), UESP makes extensive use of namespaces to sort and organize content. Because many topics appear in multiple games, namespaces allow the site's content to be organized by game and prevents excessive disambiguation pages. As a quick look at the pages in the main namespace will reveal, only page shortcuts and the Main Page can be found in the primary namespace.