Forum:ToC overhaul

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Since the release of NetHack 3.6.0 there has been a push to update all of the version-specific articles to be consistent with the 3.6 series. Many features have not changed, so not all pages need changes in content. However, if you wanted to make any general improvements to all articles on the wiki, this would be a good opportunity.

Earlier this year I tried out ADOM for the first time and, while I am still fond of NetHack, I'm impressed by the amount of organization in the other roguelike's wiki. All pages for objects and monsters (that I have seen) have a consistent table of contents. For example, every monster has a section on what happens if you eat its corpse, even the monsters that don't leave corpses (in that case, it simply says that the monster doesn't leave one).

Many NetHack features already have essential information like this in their articles, but there is a lot of variation in the names and contents of the sections, so unless the information is in the infobox or clearly signaled by a subheading, you may have to search through the body text to find it. I think it would be helpful to have a standard organization scheme for feature-centered articles on this wiki.

There is a proposed standard table of contents on the NetHackWiki style guide, which I think logically organizes the contents of many articles:

  • Generation
  • Map(s)
  • Messages
  • Strategy
  • Mythology / Origin
  • History
  • Encyclopedia entry
  • See also
  • References
  • External links

Obviously not every section will be used in any given article—"Maps" is not usually relevant to articles about items or monsters—and some articles might require additional sections and subsections for completeness. But I think this is a good start.

I'd like to propose a few tables of contents that tweak this basic framework to fit different types of features (items, monsters, special levels). I've put some of these section headings in articles I've edited, but this is my first attempt to standardize them into an organization scheme.

What do you think? --Cherokee Jack (talk) 20:37, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

A standard style for every page is an excellent idea - the wiki tends to be all over the place at the moment. For many monsters, this kind of structure would be overkill though. Consider the grid bug article.
  • Generation would be empty: the monster is generated with frequency 3 which is already noted in the infobox and there is no special generation of this monster
    Inventory would be empty
    Messages would have "You get zapped!" along with the explanation, but this may better fit under the Combat section
    Combat, i.e. the attack the monster has, is already listed in the infobox so this is unneeded
    Death Drops will be empty
    Strategy would mention the orthagonal movement of grid bugs and the and would probably contain the meat of the existing article
    Mythology would mention Tron
    History would be mostly empty
    Variants - I'm not sure what would be here but I suspect nothing
    The rest would remain largely as-is

I think that an infobox re-think is needed. A lot of the information can be conveyed easily via the box rather than via text under headings. For monsters, I suggest the format as follows, with all the rest moved to the infobox

  • Short introduction
    See Also
    External Links
--LinkVanyali (talk) 17:37, 14 November 2016 (UTC)
I feel like there's going to be so much overlap between the Combat and Strategy sections for most monsters that there's no real need for Combat to be separate; just have one Strategy section instead. Any examples I'm missing where there would be a substantial difference? --Phol ende wodan (talk) 20:03, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Another thing to consider is pages that contain lists of several related but discrete things, for example Canine or Container. Unless these would be broken up into their own pages, you would have the same repeated sections on each, most containing little or no useful information. For monsters like the wolf, all it needs is the info box, a short general paragraph, and the encyclopedia entry, because it simply isn't that interesting of a monster. Maybe the solution is to move these info boxes and individual information to their own pages, I don't know.
I do think that some restructuring is needed, but I also agree that forcing everything into those sections is too much. Would it work to use standardized sections and simply omit sections for which there is nothing to say? (In the case of e.g. death drops there would always be something to say.) --Phol ende wodan (talk) 23:33, 14 November 2016 (UTC)
I envisioned the "Generation" section (for monsters) as being a short practical explanation of the information already in the infobox. In the absence of any special cases (e.g. soldier ants created by "summon insects") it would state something like "Grid bugs may be generated as early as the first level of the Dungeons of Doom, and are one of the first monsters likely to be encountered." But I agree that a section like this would probably not be more than a few sentences, and arguably wouldn't merit a heading of its own; in many cases it could even be the intro text of the page. So we could probably do without a "Generation" heading in most monster articles. The section would be more useful in an item article, especially for item classes like weapons that are often generated in specific cases (e.g. as part of the starting inventory of a player or a monster). I haven't done much editing on monster articles, so I'm figuring out what would work.
In retrospect, fewer section headings might be better, since once you pass a certain number of sections, the wiki automatically generates a table of contents above the first one, which could be visually cumbersome. So would standard headings over single-line paragraphs, I suppose.
As for breaking up articles that cover multiple objects/monsters, I think in many cases it's better to have related monsters or objects on a single page rather than on individual pages. When I was working on the weapon articles I condensed the articles on different types of short swords into a single article, because the differences between the racial weapons were mostly numerical, so it seemed better to have a single page that treated them all as different versions of the same weapon. The same logic would apply to articles that cover monster classes like orcs or canines—especially if the similarities between members of the class outweigh their differences, and especially if one member can grow up into another. Grouping mind flayers and master mind flayers into a single article (as the wiki already does) makes sense; grouping painstakingly detailed descriptions of dwarves and mind flayers into a single article wouldn't, but having an article on "humanoids" that contains links to both dwarves and (master) mind flayers would.
In these cases, before "Strategy" there would be a series of subsections dedicated to each of the monster 'species' in the class/group. Each one would have the infobox and any other information specific to that monster. "Strategy" would then apply to monsters of that class as a whole, with notes about any exceptions from general rules (e.g. the family spellcaster). Any content about unique properties of class members (like starting inventory), would be part of the text under that member's subheading, if it isn't already covered in the infobox (or it is, but is significant enough to get a shout-out in the body text). The text under the subheadings would be so short that there wouldn't be any need for subheadings about e.g. the generation of individual members of the class, though the content would still be there, if it's useful. As an illustration (though for an item class rather than a monster class), see the dagger page.
Incidentally, even though there is a page for orcs as a monster class, all the different types of orcs have their own pages. Group or not group?--Cherokee Jack (talk) 17:26, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
I favor having the pages for monster/object groups be, by default, simple lists with links to each monster and object (such as the orc page). There are too many differences between jackals and winter wolves, I think, to justify putting them on the same page. In fact, the list of canine species is already broken up into four sub-lists, which can easily become their own pages (some of them already are). I agree that related things should go on a single page, but we need to define what it means to be related.
What I would propose as the standard for putting two monsters or objects on the same page: if there is a direct link between the monster types and there is no substantial difference in strategy. Essentially, two monsters or objects can go on the same page if you can write the entire article without making separate sections for each. For example, master mind flayers easily go on the same page as mind flayers, because the only thing that needs to be changed to add them is adding the info box. Jackals and wargs, though, aren't directly related, and the strategy is different because they generate at different levels; thus they shouldn't go on the same page. --Phol ende wodan (talk) 20:03, 17 December 2016 (UTC)