Editor instructions

This page provides instructions for editors of the Chinese Grammar Wiki, offering assistance on how to use MediaWiki (the free web app both Wikipedia and this wiki are built on), as well as guidance on ongoing development of this project. The Chinese Grammar Wiki project is a big undertaking, but it will meet a very real need. There is no single, comprehensive, free resource for Chinese grammar on the internet. We're going to be the first to the space, and we're going to kick ass doing it. By contributing to this project, you're not only improving your Chinese, but you're also earning a place among the honored contributors to this wiki. In the future, we'll have famous professors using and possibly even contributing to the Chinese Grammar Wiki, so it's good to get in now!

Key Objectives

Comprehensive and Interlinked. The goal here is to become the resource for Chinese grammar online. Just like Wikipedia is the place you naturally turn to for general information, and you often find yourself "falling down the rabbit hole" following link after link, that's what we want to be for Chinese grammar.

Referenced to Existing Textbooks. That said, we know that Chinese learning is currently dominated by traditional education. Textbooks and classrooms are going to be an important part of most students' Chinese studies for some time to come. For that reason, we want to offer an "easy in" for students of specific textbooks by providing grammar indexes of their current textbooks. This way they can bookmark the page that corresponds to their own textbook, then click on any grammar point they'd like extra explanation for, more examples, or even just related grammar points.

Clear and Accessible. Because the vast majority of learners of Chinese are beginners, this grammar wiki needs to be generally accessible to beginners (although over time, it will also expand to include more and more advanced topics). It needs to be written in a clear and straightforward manner, but also include the grammatical terms many textbooks use as a reference so that the learner can draw connections between the information in different sources.

Issues to Be Aware of

There are several main issues to be aware of:

  1. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. We're going to make extensive references to other textbooks and materials, but this must always be done in the proper academic way, either by restating points in a new way (hopefully simpler and clearer), or by giving proper credit in true academic spirit. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.
  2. AllSet Learning is investing time and money into this project, but it will be a freely available online resource. The one way AllSet Learning can recoup some of its investment is by placing Amazon affiliate links to the various books referenced on the grammar wiki. All links to books must use the proper Amazon Affiliate link so that AllSet Learning gets credit for the sales it generates, and the project can continue indefinitely.
  3. In true wiki spirit, this is a collaborative effort. However, editing will not be allowed for anonymous visitors, and editing positions must be approved. We're a small team, and we expect to get a lot of attention for this project soon, but we don't have the resources to deal with online vandals and haters. Not just anyone can become an editor, but we certainly welcome recommendations and applications, post-launch. (Pre-launch, please talk to John personally if you'd like to recommend a new editor.)

Basic Editing

For detailed explanations of each part of a grammar article, plese refer to the style guide.

Minimal Changes

If you're not an intern and you just want to help out with small things, this section is for you!

  1. If you want to fix typos or other obvious mistakes, just do it! No problem. (If you somehow make an unwanted change, it's easy for us to undo.)
  2. Before adding a new page, first search to make sure that it doesn't exist somewhere else. Do searches in Chinese and English to be sure.
  3. When adding a new page, add the "stub" tag to the very top so that we know that it probably still needs work. It looks like this: {{stub}}
  4. Check out the pages tagged with "stub" to find the best candidates for basic editing.

Editing MediaWiki

It's easy to edit MediaWiki content, but you have to know the conventions. If you know any HTML, it's similar, but even simpler. (We will also use some HTML in our wiki content, which is also compatible with MediaWiki's own markup.)

As for the markup, here are some very handy references:

Some common editing tasks you need to be able to handle for our purposes are:

  1. Create a new page
  2. Create a redirection page
  3. Create subheadings
  4. Create internal links
  5. Create internal links with different link text
  6. Create external links
  7. Create AllSet Learning's Amazon affiliate links
  8. Add italics or bold
  9. Create ordered and unordered lists
  10. Create tables
  11. Add images
  12. Add categories to pages

Remember: one of the easiest ways to figure out how to do something on this wiki is to just find an existing example of what you want to do, click "Edit" to look at the markup, then copy and modify as needed. (Most of the editing tasks above are included in this very page.) There are some good examples of articles to look at in the style guide.

One specific example of using this "copy and modify" method is with the Chinese textbook grammar index. When adding a book as a source, you can go to its edit page and copy and paste into the article you are working on. All you need to do is add the page number in parantheses, and that's it!

Advanced Editing

Citing Sources

When citing a specific portion of a particular source, use the built-in "references" function[1] (which works like footnotes):

  1. Enclose the footnote in "ref" tags, HTML style
  2. Make sure you add the "references" tag to the bottom of the article, right above the "Sources" section
  3. The information within the "ref" tag should automatically appear at the bottom of the article, hyperlinked
  4. For an example of this in action, check out the word order article, and look under "The Basic SVO Sentence"

When citing sources in general and further reading:

  1. Include chapter names/numbers, and page numbers, if possible
  2. Categorize sources using subheadings, always putting "Books" at the top (these all use Amazon affiliate links). The other most common category will be "Websites." This will save visitors the annoyance of clicking on a link, expecting to find immediate information, and then just landing on an Amazon product page.

Most of the time, citing sources in the "General and further readings" section will be enough. If there is a very good specific way that a certain textbook or reference book explains a grammar point, then we should paraphrase them and add a cite them using the built in reference function.

Special Editing Issues for the CGW

One important note is that this wiki will not do the hand-holding that many "learn Chinese online" sites do of providing pinyin and English for every single damn character. This is a waste of our resources, since there are already some very functional free browser plugins out there which can accomplish the same purpose (see our Tools page). That said, on a page specifically about a certain word or phrase, the pinyin should be given in parentheses at the top of the page, in the first mention of the word (and then not repeated). This is normally done using the "AKA" template or by putting the pinyin in the introductory paragraph. (see example on the ba sentence page).

There are a few ways to type pinyin using online tools. Here a few:

Also, we will be following Wikipedia's convention of using only English or toneless pinyin for page titles. You can use Chinese for page titles on Wikipedia, and we will be adding many, but they will all redirect to another page with an English title (example: ). This will prevent a lot of confusion down the road. This rule will require further clarification at some point in the future, but for now we'll keep it simple. Furthermore, try to keep all of the words in the title (except for the first one) lowercase, as this makes linking much easier.

When adding tables (for example, in the word order article), follow these guidelines:

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the wikitable class (again, see the word order article and look at the markup if you're unclear how to do that), which has been modified for our purposes
  2. Specify the width in the table "style," using 10em per table column as a general rule (e.g. a 3-column table would be 30em wide)
  3. If the table contains mostly Chinese, wrap the whole thing in a <div> tag with class liju, which will enlarge the characters and allow special liju formatting. (For more information, see the Chinese Grammar Wiki style guide).

For more information on the editing of Chinese text to include the proper styles, see the Chinese Grammar Wiki Style Guide.

Using the Textbook Search

For those who have access to AllSet Learning's textbook and reference book library (or to those who own some of those books), the textbook reference search is available to help you look for grammar points in textbooks. Look up a word or grammar point and click "references" to help you find what you are looking for. Once you get to a textbook page, look for the grammar point, see what chapter it is in (Ctr + F helps) and find it in the book!

Using other online sources

Sometimes editors may want to refer to some online resource. Dictionaries can help you understand basic meanings and corpora are valuable tools to help find grammar patterns in real life sentences. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other electronic resources that can be helpful in building the Chinese Grammar Wiki!



Organizing articles into Indexes

Editors may note that last section of the grammar box code at the bottom of each page contains a string of letters and numbers. These letters and numbers are a special code that links the grammar point to the AllSet Learning analytical backend. AllSet Learning employees with access to the backend system can generate and add this code for you. Whenever you need a code, just contact the AllSet Learning staff, and we can add it.

Disambiguation, translation, and keywords

One feature that we want to make easier for the users is the Search function. If someone is looking for a specific grammar pattern, we want to make it really easy for them to find. To help do this, we have disambiguation pages and Translation pages that can link up to different articles related to them. Disambiguation pages like this one can help people search for a word that they know in pinyin, and find articles that have that as a keyword.

This means that keywords are also important for articles, as they allow for this link-up. You can add a keyword to an article by putting it in the Grammar Box section at the bottom of an article. Look at other Grammar boxes to see how that mark-up looks. Once you make a keyword, you will need to make the relevant disambiguation pages to go with it.

Translation pages take an word searched in English and connect to grammar points about that word. This kind of page is also created in the Grammar Box. For an example, look here.

A word about example sentences

With regards to examples sentences there are two important things to keep in mind.

First, make sure you do not plagiarize! It is important not to copy down example sentences from other dictionaries or corpora. We can use them to understand a grammar point, but we cannot take their sentences and use them as our own. You cannot take an example sentences and "tweak it a little" to make it into a new sentence.

Second, make sure that example sentence comes from a native speaker. For interns at AllSet Learning, please consult with other members of the team and have them come up with example sentences. If you come up with your own sentences, make sure that a native speaker looks at it and have them be liberal with their editing! Sometimes even advanced Chinese learners may come up with sentences that are grammatically correct, but awkward to a native speaker. It is best to make sure native speakers make sure the sentence is natural.

With that said, if you can't find a native speaker to provide examples for you, just put "NEEDS EXAMPLES" in bold on the article and let the AllSet staff know about it. They will be able to provide examples for you.

Final Note to Editors

This page is for you, so whatever is not clear and needs to be expanded upon, you guys can help us do! Let John know what else needs to be clarified.


  1. For complete official instructions, see the MediWiki extension tutorial.