No, this guide isn’t just for dudes. That’s just a play on my username.
This guide is for everyone who contributes — or wants to contribute — to the LGBTA Wiki. I’ve written this assuming that my audience is familiar with the editing, style, and community guidelines, but no doubt some of the points and rules brought up in them are repeated here.
The bulk of edits I do are to references, from adding references to adjusting how they appear on pages. While the LGBTA Wiki has no specific formatting guidelines for sources, there are ways to effectively do and convey research that help the wiki.
What You Should Know Before You Do Any Research
Before you start typing into a search bar, or forbid a new page shell, you should know at least two things about what you’re researching:
- The name of the term and any variations or modifiers
- A working definition of the term.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as a famous Bill put it. But as Gertrude Stein wrote just as eloquently, a rose is a rose is a rose. We queer people use many terms to mean the same things, based on our disparate experiences and language preferences. It’s important to know how we overlap. If you know alternative terms or spellings for a single term, that knowledge is helpful to you as a researcher and a member of the community.
In the branching world of identities, you should also be aware of modifiers. By far, the most common modifiers are -gender, -sexual, and -romantic. In the edits I’ve done for the wiki, I’ve also found that -boy, -girl, and pangender- are also popular. Once you start to recognize modifiers, it becomes much easier to recognize patterns of language that influence how we name ourselves and create those names. It makes it a lot easier to track down the origins of a term, even if that term has changed over time.
Definitions also change over time, which is why it’s crucial to have a working definition when you research. Your definition is likely to change as you do more research — even if you coined the term — and having a rough guideline of who has a gender identity or sexual orientation and how they experience that identity or orientation keeps a term and the page you’re making coherent.
Sometimes, your research will lead you to varying definitions of similar or the same terms, some of which work better with your working definitions, others...not so much. It’s ultimately up to your discretion if you’ll make one page in the end or more for the wiki. In the case of peachgender/peachigender, I ended up keeping the page together because more characteristics in each definition overlapped than not. In the case of the orangegender gastrogender and colorgender pages, however, I had to split them. Sometimes you’ll find yourself really doing research for multiple terms.
A third, highly recommended thing you do before you start researching is opening a Word or Google doc, or whatever your preferred note taking app is. The best research is retraceable, and keeping notes — or at least copying and pasting URLs and writing short descriptions for each URL — is the best way to keep track of what you find.
Whether you’re updating an existing page or coining your own term, it’s best to start with the wiki. You want to ensure that whatever you’re adding, or adding to, is original. It can also help you find similar terms and umbrella terms or categories to make a term more searchable.
The best place to start is the search bar. Try searching the term you’re working on and see you get back. Try searching for variations as well, especially for potentially modified genders.
For example, when I did research for the cosmicboy page, I searched for “cosmicboy” and “cosmicgender” to see how many connections I could make, which also pulled up “cosboy.” In that case, the terms were not connected, but I could still differentiate cosmicboy from the other terms.
Some terms may not have their own page yet but are featured in existing pages. Open any relevant pages in separate tabs—the more you can connect to the page you’re doing research for, the less likely that you’ll have a dead-end page on your hands.
If you do find helpful pages on the wiki that aren’t exactly what you’re researching, make good use of the internal links on those pages. Internal links are highlighted words that link to other pages within the LGBTA Wiki. Pay attention to unique or unusual internal links. If many of the results you got mention aesthetigenders, you may want to pay extra attention to the mention of aesthetics, sensations, and the word “feel” as you do further research. If a system like the critter system continues to show up, follow internal links up its branches until you can find a main page that lays out terms people with critter system genders use and how they understand gender. This helps you build a reservoir of vocabulary to help you recognize patterns in how your term is being discussed and defined.
Sometimes, especially if you’re coining your own term, you may not find your word or any relevant modifier through searching for them specifically. In that case, you’ll want to break down your term into concepts and categories.
Concepts here means free association. If you’re coining mantisic, for example, you’ll want to list words that are important to describing the subject or metaphors of that gender, mantis and bug for example, as well as the experiences around that gender, like fight and nature. If you’re coining a sexual, sensual, or romantic orientation, you’ll want to focus on who feels that attraction (all people potentially, only non-binary people, only women), who do they feel attracted to, and how does that attraction feel (exciting, repulsive).
Categories are a fixture of the wiki and important to the growing understanding of the asexual and aromantic spectrums as well as multisexual and xenic experiences of sexuality and gender respectively. Becoming familiar with the categories of the wiki can help you figure out what niche your term fills.
- Multisexual spectrum or m-spec
- Asexual spectrum or ace-spec
- Exclusive identities
Duplicate EtiquetteOccasionally in your research, you may find pages that are duplicates, or the same page with different titles or slight to no differences between them. First, open the Source Editor for the page with the least amount of information and copy all of the code on the page into a Word or Google Doc. Before you leave, add four braces surrounding the word “delete” at the top of the page. It should look like this:
Content editors and other wiki members with badges may not take the time to check if the details between pages differ and may delete a page that, even slightly different, has important details the other does not. Duplicate etiquette means making sure any details from a shorter duplicate page that differ at all from the other longer page make their way onto that page.
Doing Research Outside the Wiki
If you’re coining your own term, you likely don’t need to do any more research outside of the wiki. Feel free to scroll down to the section on citing sources.
However, if you’re searching for sources to update an existing page or see if the term has a previously unknown history, you’ll have to traverse the world wide web to find any clues about the term you’re researching.
Unlike when doing research within the wiki, you’ll need to stick closely to the term you’re researching and its variations. The only concepts you may use in your search are “gender” or “LGBT” or “queer,” something that orients your search results in the right direction.
Below, I’ve listed my four go-to sources: Google, Tumblr, MOGAI-pedia (a wiki minded by exclusionists until March 2020), and other queer, gender, and sexuality wikis hosted on FANDOM.
Google has the best interface for researching as it follows limits and spellings to a T. Some Boolean tactics that may help you find the most specific results are:
- Encasing a term in quotation marks “like this” and then adding the word “gender” or “LGBT” (no quotation marks) to your search terms
- If you want to see if you get any hits in a certain time range, adding two years separated by dots after your search terms in quotation marks, “like this” 2005…2015
Many of your hits may be duplicates of each other, especially if most of your search results are linked to Tumblr. Pay attention to how the hits are titled and where they lead. Open any that look safe or open to familiar sites (like Tumblr or Reddit) in separate tabs. If you see more duplicates than original sources, stop. I usually go three to five pages of results in to make sure I have a range of quality resources to choose from.
You can also search Tumblr directly. Type in the term in the search bar and scroll through the popular (not recent) posts related to that term. For some terms, you may get the exact coining post. For others, you may get a lot of other posts. Don’t look more than two pages in (if you have pages enabled) or five minutes (if you have endless scrolling enabled) on Tumblr.
To save the link to a Tumblr post, click on the three horizontal dots in the top right corner and click the “Copy Link” button. This is also how you can access the exact timestamp of a post.
Sometimes, Google searches will lead you to Tumblr posts as seen externally, not inside, the site. Some blog layouts make looking for dates a miserable task. If you are logged into Tumblr and encounter a post like that, you will have to
- Click the “Reblog” button.
- Send the post to your drafts (or you can reblog it if you really want to).
- Go to your drafts (or dashboard if you reblogged it).
- Click the three horizontal dots on the top right, and record the date.
If you have to guestimate the date (based on visual cues like “posted 4 years ago”), still make sure to include a link to the Tumblr post by copying the address at the very top of your screen.
One uncomfortable but oddly reliable source is the MOGAI-pedia wiki, an anti-MOGAI wiki run by exclusionists who catalogued MOGAI identities in order to mock them.
Their vitriolic zealousness, however, has turned into a great advantage when doing research, especially because they archived posts by deactivated Tumblr accounts like uncommongenders, genderrose, and mogai-archive that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise. For those who don’t find searching their archives and interacting with their vitriol totally off-putting — and are prepared to find sometimes unsavory comments in archived reblogs — it’s a great resource for finding the origins of terms and flags thought lost to time and deactivation.
Other Queer Wikis
Other wikis like the LGBTA Wiki exist and are a lot less hostile than the exclusionist wiki, including the Gender Wiki, the LGBT Info Wiki, and the LGBT+ Wiki. One problem with these wikis is potential gaps in research, as these wikis often don’t use sources. They also have somewhat jarring color schemes that make them hard to read. However, when they do have sources, it’s awesome, and even when they don’t, they can help point your remaining research in the right directions, bringing up new flags, definitions, and variant terms.
After you’ve done all of your research, it’s time to synthesize what you have into the page you’re editing or creating. It’s really up to your discretion how you write about a term or how you combine, split up, or arrange sources. A post that covers that revision process is a little beyond me at the moment, but I can walk you through how to create footnotes and formatting research materials for the wiki.
If you’ve ever read a Wikipedia page, you’ll notice that there are notes[like this] all over the page. If you’ve clicked on those notes, you’ll know that they bring you to the bottom of the page and direct you to a book, website, or journal article that informs how the Wikipedia editors wrote about a fact or figure.
The LGBTA Wiki has a template that allows us to do this, too, directing whoever reads the page to the posts where terms and flags were made and sometimes to where discourse has happened. These references help us build an identity for each and every term.
I’m explaining here how to create footnotes and reference lists as well as the difference between a reference list and a resource list.
HTML Tags and Descriptive Text
To create a footnote, you need to go into the Source Editor. From there, all you need to do is surround a link with <ref></ref>, like so:
In the space between the URL and the ] or last square bracket, you should write descriptive text, or a three to ten word description of where the link leads. An example of this is
<ref>[https://lgbta.wikia.org/wiki/LGBTA_Wiki LGBTA Wiki homepage.]</ref>
The reason you want to put descriptive text is to inform whoever is reading the page of where the link goes. Naked links, or links without descriptive text, are hard to trust, meaning readers are less likely to click on them and may be wary to trust the information on the page. At least, I’m more trusting of Tumblr post coining xyx. than https://tumblr.com/2910480-xyz-i-came-up-with.
In order to create a reference list at the bottom of the page, created a ==References== section and put <references /> underneath it, like this:
The list will generate itself. If you provide descriptive text for the links, they will be visible in the references list. Otherwise, you list will be full of naked links or a mix of both if you include only some descriptive links.
If you don't cite any outside links (such as a page with a term created by a wiki user), you don't need a References section.
If you’re in the Visual Editor, the auto-generated templates don’t allow you to make footnotes and references like this. In that case, still make a references section with the Sub-Heading formatting guideline (usually set to Paragraph) and copy and paste naked links below in a numbered list. The LGBTA Wiki is a cooperative project, and other editors comfortable with the Source Editor can help fix up the page.
How to Format Descriptive Text
There are no distinct rules on how to format descriptive text on the wiki. However, based on the style and editing guidelines that do exist, there is one general guideline that I follow that I call the 3Ws: who, what, and where.
Wiki pages aren’t English class essays, so you don’t have to create an elaborate citation in MLA or APA. Conciseness is key for descriptive text.
The reason I don’t use the 4Ws (aka focus on when) is because any important dates (when a term was coined, when a flag was created) should already be in the body of the page. In addition, adding the date to every description of a link would be redundant and make descriptions longer than needed.
I have a similar position on who, but there are two distinct cases when mentioning who is relevant:
- When the post has been reblogged and the original is not accessible
- When the only source you can find has offensive content.
In the first case, you may want to mention who reblogged or shared the term or its flag. In the second case, you will make a note of who is targeted in any offensive content with a content warning in the descriptive text.
What and where are the most relevant elements for descriptive text. Where did you find the post or article, and what is the title or gist of the article (whichever is shorter)?
To give you some examples, here is a cross-section from when I updated the reference list for the wiki page on butch of a post, article, and book being referenced:
- Tumblr post by official-cisphobe about the term butch.
- Article “Common Lesbian Slang and Terminology” by the editorial team at The Other Team website.
- Butch is a Noun, S. Bear Bergman, Arsenal Pulp Press.
Again, these are up to your discretion. Concise and helpful descriptive text is a courteous and professional thing you can do for the wiki.
How to Cite a Member of the Wiki
Sometimes, a wiki member may anonymously create a term or flag and wish to remain anonymous. Other times, they may create a page and add their name. In that case, cite them!
To cite a wiki member, surround their name in double square brackets, add the user tag, and write their name twice, separated by a | or pipe symbol.
In some cases, a user may create a page without citing who created the term or the flag and not include any sources. Again, it could be a user trying to stay anonymous, so act with discretion. In cases where I can’t find any other sources, I go into the history of the page, see who first created the page, and cite them as the creator of the term and the date the page was created as when a term was coined.
You can also check the history of a flag to see if it aligns with the history of the page and if it was uploaded by the same user who created the page. The more a flag's upload history and a page's creation line up, the likelier it is that the a term that is hard to locate was uploaded only to the wiki by its creator.
Resources versus References
This may seem semantic, but I hold to it: resources are not references. On Wikipedia, the reference list is titled References. On the LGBTA Wiki especially, however, separating Resources from References is important.
References inform what information is included in an article. References are proof that research was done and that everything known about an identity is being conveyed to a reader.
A resource section is much more common on sensitive pages on the wiki. Resources are similar to the Further Reading section on Wikipedia pages but with more urgency. Resources are provided for people to seek help or information beyond what the page provides.
Links to resources may come up in your research, especially if you’re creating a page on a sensitive topic or are helping to add links to a sensitive page. In that case, create ==Resources== before ==References== and list resources (using descriptive text) that link to these pages. An example of how you would write this in Source Editor is
* [https://howtogetbetter.org Website Name or "Article Title."]
Resources should not appear in references and vice versa, and following this syntax is one way to keep that from happening.
For generation of queer people in the US in the 80s and 90s, one of the only documentaries (collection of documents) of queer life was a thick book called Gay and Lesbian American History by Jonathan Ned Katz. Few queer communities worldwide have been able to keep a detailed history of who, what, where, and when.
We’re fortunate to live in a time where we can do what some call queer genealogical work — tracing our roots, documenting our exist, and existing unequivocally. Even when I first came out in 2010 CE, using the internet like this to find terms and flags, let alone make terms and flags, was actually impossible. That really isn’t something we could do until about 2018, right about when the LGBTA Wiki was created. The internet is vast, but the amount of our cultures that are traceable is unprecedented in queer history.
That's why I revise reference lists with diligence. I feel very passionately about this. Having a history is important to any culture and is very important to having an identity.
Anyway, I hope this guide is helpful and not as overwhelming as I worry it is. Let me know what you want a little more information on, and I’ll see what I can write up quick.