In all subject wikis, articles form the fundamental unit of knowledge. Each article is treated as a separate, independent unit of knowledge. Articles are strongly linked to each other but all inter-article dependencies are loose.
Goal of an article
The goal of each article is to:
- The content goal: Answer certain specific questions clearly and comprehensively.
- The link goal: Provide a vantage point for exploration of related ideas and for answers to related questions.
The two goals together mean that each article should be very clear about what questions it provides comprehensive answers to, and what questions it provides relevant links for.
Types of articles
Most subject wikis have articles defining terms. These articles are called definition articles or terminology articles. A definition article must contain the definition, and, depending on the type of term and the organizational paradigms of the subject wiki, it may contain other sections giving further context to the term.
Definition articles follow a brief and terse style. Their main purpose is to serve as vantage points for exploring a term and understanding related terms and facts. Definition articles do not contain proofs, explanatory arguments, exploration and motivation. Rather, they give short statements with clear explanations, linking to more complete proofs and explanation.
Fact articles aim to state a fact clearly, and provide a proof or explanation of the fact. Where the proof is too long, involved, or unilluminating, it is outlined and separate components are linked to.
Fact articles follow a brief and terse style. Their main purpose is to serve as vantage points for exploring the fact, its underlying ideas, and related terms and facts. Fact articles contain definitions of important terms used, and state facts used, but do not attempt to prove other facts being used in their proof.
Specific information articles
- Further information: Subwiki:Specific information article
Specific information articles on a subject wiki provide specific information of a certain type about a definition or fact. The style here is reasonably terse and to-the-point, though there may be a little more leeway than for definition and fact articles. Depending on the type of information, however, the specific information article on a particular topic may have to follow a certain template.
For instance, subgroup structure of dihedral group:D8 article on Groupprops provides specific information about the dihedral group of order eight, namely, it describes the subgroup structure of this group.
- Further information: Subwiki:Survey article
Survey articles explore an idea. The idea could be based on a definition or fact or it could be based on the relation between multiple definitions and facts. Survey articles do not follow rigid guidelines like definition and fact articles, and the value they offer is considerably more variable. This is because a survey article is not usually intended to answer a specific question, but rather, it is intended to address general curiosities.
Unlike definition and fact articles, survey articles are not obliged to provide complete and comprehensive statements of definitions and facts used. They can provide short summaries of the definitions and facts, linking to the full article for further information.
The distinction between specific information articles and survey articles is not completely clear. The general idea is that for survey articles, it is usually not that easy to say, looking at the title of the article, what content should definitely go in to the article, since there is greater subjectivity.