|This page in a nutshell: Copyeditors are encouraged to make obviously correct fixes, such as correcting spelling and grammatical errors, but should exercise restraint when changes are not obviously correct, such as when changing spelling variants. Copyeditors should ensure that changes are compatible with the local English usage and manual of style, and are also stylistically consistent within the article (and districts/sub articles if applicable).|
Wikivoyage welcomes copyeditors! You can make a significant contribution to our guides and articles by correcting formatting, grammar and expression. We have thousands of articles in need of your attention, so pick an article, and get to work!
However, copyediting on Wikivoyage is a careful balance between improving our layout and maintaining our lively tone. This guide isn't policy, but provides some pointers to our style guides for copyeditors, and some tips to try and ensure we avoid confrontation over punctuation.
We are happy for new contributions of information to be written in the style that the contributor is comfortable with, but copyediting should stick to changes that are compatible with the local English usage and our Manual of Style, and try to be stylistically consistent within the article (and districts/sub articles if applicable).
Some of the best examples of our style are in our star articles, so becoming familiar with them will give you a place to start if you need to check on some formatting.
When to edit, and when to leave it be
We don't mind some differences in article expression, so we don't set out to change things that are not wrong, but just different. We'd rather celebrate our diversity! When we meet other people in our travels, we share our way of doing things, but don't impose it. We try to do the same thing on our wiki!
Give articles a chance to develop
Sometimes it's easy to jump on articles that are at the top of Recent Changes, or your Watchlist. But bear in mind that new users and some existing users are usually more sensitive to seeing their work jumped on quickly after they have added content. Fixing a typo is always welcome. But consider taking some time before making significant change to good faith edits - especially by new users. Consider waiting a few days for the article to develop or discussing things on the article's talk page.
We don't need a policy that says how to correct incorrect spelling, or the incorrect use of apostrophes, or some such. If you find a spelling mistake, then fix it!
It becomes more difficult when we deal with spelling variants. When a Londoner gets off their plane at JFK, and picks up the New York Times, they will notice some words are spelt differently. Writing a letter to the editor to complain about the poor spelling won't get them anywhere, and the chances are they will soon be knowledgeable about the news of the day. Similarly, a New Yorker at Heathrow, will no doubt quickly adapt to programmes and colours. American English, British English and other varieties are all good ways of writing English. Spending time changing "centre" to "center" or vice versa is of no semantic value. Both are understood. Wikivoyage has no preference for any variant of spelling, and remember, there is more in common than there are differences.
We do have policies about spelling, and in some cases changing varieties of spelling is permitted. However, there is never a need to jump on editors using a different variety. Give some space and let the article evolve.
Using the local vocabulary can add colour to an article, and give the reader a taste of what to expect when visiting the destination. If the meaning could create a misunderstanding, you can add a gloss in brackets after first time a term appears. The term used locally should be outside the brackets, so in an article on Singapore you would use "godown (warehouse)". However, if the meaning is clear from the context "the suitcase was in the trunk of the car", then consider whether such a gloss is really required.
All editors will inevitably make some grammatical errors from time to time. As with spelling, we don't need a specific policy regarding making grammatical corrections. If you spot any grammatical errors, plunge forward and fix them!
Style and language
Sometimes Wikivoyagers aren't fluent in English, or just make a quick edit using txt spk. Improving these articles into full English prose is a great help. However, sometimes different authors just have different styles and word preferences. For example, there is rarely a need to change a single word like "overtaking" to "passing". If you're going to make an edit just to change the writing style, the result should be clearly superior in readability, pithiness, completeness, or elegance.
If multiple editors have used different expressions in one article, and it needs consistency to be understood, then by all means plunge forward and improve it.
We have some standard abbreviations for use in listings. They are explained at Wikivoyage:Abbreviations.
If in doubt, mention your style and language suggestions on the discussion page to involve the other authors if possible.
Section headings follow the article skeletons, but within sections the writer is more or less free to choose the structure they believe is best. So change the structure only when the change is a clear improvement. Do not change it just because you have a personal preference. If in doubt, seek consensus on the talk page before you edit.
Creating redirects for alternate spellings is encouraged, and can be done without the need for prior discussion. Any form in use in English or locally can have a redirect, including older names (such as Bombay for the city now known as Mumbai), and even common spelling errors.
Often, multiple names are in use for a geographical area, and none of these are wrong. As the Wikivoyage:Naming conventions stipulates, English names in common use are used for geographical areas, and only the Latin alphabet can be used. If multiple names are in use in English, we prefer the name that is also used locally. For example our actual article on one Polish city is at Kraków, including diacritics and ligatures, and there is a redirect at Cracow.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to determine which name is in common use or which name is used locally. It is then difficult to come to an agreement. In such a case, do not change the article name if it is not clearly wrong. For example, Arabic has no unified way of transliterating words into the Latin alphabet; thus El Aaiún can also be El Aioun or Laâyoune. Do not change the article name before seeking consensus on the talk page, but do go ahead and create redirects for alternate spellings.