The biggest problem we have with Chaos/Risky Business, other than minor bot errors, is problems with the categories. It's almost impossible for Mach and I to catch all the problems when they're submitted and/or fix them. For that reason, Eingang recently instituted a massive category editing/updating blitz for StarLink/DALnet to fix categories that are already being used. To avoid problems in the future, she's made these editing guidelines available to you, the prospective category writer, outlining the 10 most common problems and some ways to avoid/fix them. Categories not correctly composed in the future will simply be sent back to the author with a copy of these guidelines.
Each of these trouble areas will be explained in detail below along with some guidelines as how to fix these problems.
You might want to print out this guide out as it's quite long and detailed.
Problem 1: Answers (or questions) that have extra spaces at the end.
This is *really* annoying, as you know if you've been playing a fair bit of time. What happens is that the original category writer put an extra space (or several) at the end of each (or some) answer or question. When the extra space is in the answer, it means that nobody's going to get the answer right because the 'bot expects the answer people to give to also have a space.
My text editor allows me to write macros. What I did was write a macro that can detect the combination of space and return and replaces it with just a return. I also have a macro that detects two spaces together and replaces them with just one. If you don't know how to write such macros, you can just do it manually with your search and replace mechanism in your text editor or word processor, assuming you know how to specify special characters such as "return". If not, then most text editors/word processors allow you to see "invisible" characters such as spaces and returns. Turning this function on will allow you to see if this problem exists.
Problem 2: Standardization of answers with apostrophes, full names, abbreviations, hyphens, numbers, * and * answers, names/titles starting with "A"/"The", and handling singular/plural answers.
Some of game robots are currently set to filter out apostrophes and replace them with nothing, but this doesn't look aesthetically pleasing, so category answers should have an answer with the apostrophe first and one without the apostrophe second, as in the following example:
I Can't Get Enough|I Cant Get Enough
(The "|" character is used to specify multiple answers and there should *not* be a space before or after it.)
Remove any answers where the apostrophe is replaced by a space as these are wrong.
b) Full Names
Answers with names should have the full name of the person first followed by, in most cases, the last name, i.e.,
Michelle A. Hoyle|Hoyle
In Chaos categories, sometimes it's not possible to put last names because there will be two answers with the same last name (which causes a problem). In such categories, change the category comment to reflect the fact that full names are required.
Note: Names, titles, etc. have a capitalization standard. Please follow it.
The bots do not filter out periods! Initials, abbreviations, etc. should have periods where/if required. Also include an answer that doesn't have the period. State names and province names as answers should possibly include an answer with the state/province abbreviation (postal abbreviations), i.e.
St. Louis|St Louis
Provincial/State postal abbreviations do not require periods.
Having USA as an answer seems to cause some problems because the
possible answers aren't consistent. Let's say that the following
possibilities should be included for an answer that has the US
Note: Names and postal abbreviations follow a capitalization standard.
The bot does not filter out hyphens. Many words have a hyphenated and a non-hyphenated spelling possible, like co-operation, for example. Place the hyphenated version (if it's the more common) as the first answer and an answer with the hyphen replaced by nothing as the second. Remove any answers where the hyphen is replaced by a space since those are technically wrong.
What the category guidelines actually say is that numbers between zero and twenty should be spelled out as well as included in numeric form and then all multiples of 10 up to 100 should have both, as well as hundreds, thousands, million, etc. Numbers between those can just be placed in numerical form.
f) * and * answers
This is where two answers are required like "John and Paul." The answer should then be formatted something like:
John and Paul|Paul and John|John & Paul|Paul & John
The question should indicate the answer format somehow. (RB only)
g) Names/Titles starting with "A"/"The" or similar
Place the entire correct name of the group/title as the first
answer, followed by one, if room, without the "A"/"The"
A Day In the Life|Day in the Life
h) Singular/Plural Answers
Currently the game bots match answers based on a substring match. That means if the answer in the file is carrot," carrots" will also match. Ideally, both singular and plural answers should be provided where it makes sense to have both, especially in Chaos.
Note: It's especially a problem where the plural is spelled differently than the singular. Pay special attention to these.
Problem 3: Questions or answers which are longer than 79 characters
This always causes some unusual problems, so let's get rid of them all. Questions and answers cannot exceed 79 characters and may only be on one line! Perhaps the easiest way to detect this is to set your word processor/text editor to use a non-proportional font like Courier and then set the size of your editing window to 79 characters with no word wrap. Anything not ending there is probably too long.
In order to fix this, see if you can re-word the question so that it only takes up 79 characters on one line. Answers are a little harder since probably they don't include extraneous words. If you have to, get rid of the answer that's least likely to be given.
Problem 4: Comments which are longer than 79 characters or are set to "Automatic Category Comment-Category Name"
Luckily, this is easy to fix! Just edit the category comment so that it's shorter than 79 characters and reflects something about the content of the category. The "Automatic Category Comments" came from categories we had already before I had the bright idea of having category comments.
Problem 5: Spelling mistakes
Get out of your spell checkers and run the category through it. If you have a category with lots of names in it (for places or people), you'll probably have to manually check the names. If you're unsure if a name is spelled correctly, try asking several people. In the worse case, insert several possible variants.
Problem 6: American/British spelling missing
This is especially a problem in Chaos, where we currently have more people from countries using British spelling than American spelling. How to fix this? Being Canadian, I know most of the problems words on sight but how to tell you? Perhaps the easiest thing, if you can do this, is to set your spell checker to use a British dictionary, if you have one, and then run it through the spell checker again. Every time it balks at an American word, note the British spelling and add it to the list of possible answers. I've included below a short list of common answers that also have British spellings. This would also extend, of course, to their derivatives.
cheque|check (as in the kind that's in the mail)
travelling|traveling (most words ending in ling should include a version with lling.)
Different Words for Common Things:
line|queue (as in there was a line for tickets at the theatre)
parking lot|car lot
trunk|boot (of a car)
Problem 7: Outdated answers
This is tricky... We have a number of "vanity" categories about people who are no longer with us, such as "The Goddess Alisa." Perhaps these categories should just be scrapped. You can so reccommend that and we'll perhaps put it to a vote. Some other categories, such as "Phonetic RBers" should be revamped to reflect people who are currently playing, same with "Popular IRC channels" or what-have-you. This will involve some research on your part.
The other ones are things like "Rod Stewart's latest album." At the time the category was written it may have been one thing but now it's another thing. We can take two approaches to this. We can a) either update the information to reflect what is currently true or b) place a year in the question or category comment. I kind of favour approach a but it's more work. I think it will make for a better game, though.
Problem 8: Questions where stuff is supposed to be "current" but is now several years old but there's no indication of this in the question or in the category comment.
This is similar to the last problem and can be fixed in the same way.
Problem 9: Categories with an incorrect number of questions/answers specified.
Each Risky Business category should have at least 25 questions. Some have more and some have less. The number of questions in the category is indicated in the first line of the category file. After you finish editing everything else, count the number of questions and make sure that it matches the number at the top.
In Chaos, each category should have at least 15 answers. Some have more, some have less. Obviously each has 10 at a bare minimum. Ensure that the number of answers in the file is correct.
Problem 10: English in questions/answers
Let's aim for a consistent standard of English in the questions/answers.
a) Questions should be in the correct case. I.e., names, titles, and places should be capitalized properly, the beginning of the sentence should be capitalized. This means that any questions all in uppercase should be fixed! Answers should also have the correct case.
b) Titles of magazines, movies, television shows, newspapers, books, etc.
should be in quotation marks or with "_" characters at the beginning/end
of the title, if there's room in the question. This *does not* apply
This artist broke into the top 10 with _Wild World_.
c) Fix any basic grammatical errors.
d) Some questions use "_" to indicate the number of letters in a word. It's probably better to replace these by "*" or "-" instead, since more than one "_" in a row is hard to count.
If you have any questions at any time, feel free to mail Eingang (firstname.lastname@example.org).