The Policy is divided into two types of conventions: Rules and Guidelines.
Failure to follow the WordLink Policy Rules will result in an accumulation of Warnings. Once a user has accumulated five Warnings, their WordLink privileges will be revoked. This means you will no longer be able to add new WLs, and will not be able to view the WL Database page. You will still be able to connect new words in your dictionary to existing WLs, but will have to ask other users or staff members to add new WLs on your behalf if you need them.
Users who have lost their WL privileges may petition the staff to have them restored, but there is no guarantee that this will happen.
Creating WLs which go against not just this Policy but also other site rules may result in immediate removal of WL privileges and further consequences up to and including banning from the site itself.
Breaking the WordLink Policy Guidelines will not result in any Warnings or other penalty to your account, but our WL Moderators may still edit or delete such WLs or merge them with existing WLs on the site.
As a general note, WLs are monitored by a team of volunteers (WordLink Moderators) on their own time, without any automated system. As such, WLs that go against the WL policy may not be detected immediately. CWS members are always welcome to report any WLs that go against this Policy or any other site rule.
A single spelling convention is used to reduce unnecessary duplicate WLs, keeping clutter to a minimum and the site statistics and inter-language comparison tools more accurate.
All WordLinks and Hints should be written with modern British English spelling conventions, e.g. colour, realise, centre instead of color, realize, center. This does not extend to archaic forms that such as "gaol." Where different dialects use entirely different words (e.g. elk vs moose, trousers vs pants) it is still preferred to only have one, unified WL. If you are uncertain which spelling to use, ask someone (preferably a Brit).
Where appropriate, American spellings (or words) can be added to the AmE ("American variant") field. Users who are more familiar with American English spelling conventions can go to Profile > My profile > Site preferences to enable the "American spelling" preference. (Unfortunately we do not have specific preferences set up for other varieties of English.)
It is highly recommended that all users double-check their spelling for typos or other errors before submitting new WLs. Anyone who is more familiar with American (or Canadian) spelling conventions is encouraged to generally familiarise themself with British spelling conventions before adding WLs. (Aussies and Kiwis are generally fine.)
In addition to the British spelling conventions, WordLinks and Hints should be all lowercase, except for proper nouns, which should be capitalsed. This is less of an issue since it does not interfere with search functionality, and additionally, the site will eventually automatically fix the capitalization of WLs based on their assigned Part of Speech. However, it will not alter Hints in the same way, and is simply annoying.
Word forms are the specific, exact form of a word in question; for example, "bought" is a conjugation, and therefore word form, of "buy."
As with spelling, maintaining a consistent convention for word forms helps keep the database easier to search and free of unnecessary clutter. For our WordLink Database we prefer the usage of "dictionary" or "citation" forms for our WordLinks. This means that nouns should be singular (never plural), verbs should be a bare infinitive (without "to"; and never in the past tense, progressive, or perfective), and pronouns should be in the nominative (subject) case only ("I", not "me"). These rules extend to other languages as applicable when adding to the Natural Translations—please use the accepted standard dictionary/citation form for that language. (This is often the nominative singular for nouns, and the infinitive for verbs, but it does depend on the language. If the language does not have widely-accepted standards, use the form that feels most basic.)
We allow a few additional word forms to have their own distinct WLs. These include passivised verbs (formatted as "be [verb]ed") and reflexive verbs (formatted as "[verb] oneself").
If you wish to be able to display different word forms in your own language—for example, if you want people browsing your dictionary to see how your language translates both "hand" and "hands"—you have a few options. Firstly, you may simply add two different words to the same WL (in this case, the WL "hand"), and then add a Note or Class (both must be enabled in Dictionary Settings) to indicate which word is singular, and which one is plural. Alternatively (and most advisedly), you may set up Grammar Tables, which use PhoMo code to produce auto-conjugated/declined tables for your language. If PhoMo is too much for you to handle, you can simply write out the word's paradigm in the Notes section (or ask for help in the appropriate board).
A note on personal pronouns
In order to avoid massive clutter, our policy is that no new personal pronoun WordLinks (e.g. "me, she, their, ey") are to be added to the CWS database, and as such, we have removed regular users' ability to add any WL with the "pronoun" part of speech. Adding new personal pronoun WLs as other parts of speech (e.g. "she (3SF), proper noun") counts as an infraction of this rule.
We have one WL each for all basic person and number combinations (i.e. first, second and third person in singular, dual, and plural). There are not individual WLs for different cases (e.g. "we" vs "us") because you should use Grammar Tables for this function. There are not individual WLs for different genders (grammatical or social) because we would have a never-ending list of pronouns [noteAnd no, we will not make separate WLs just for the standard English division of he, she, and it]. Please use the existing forms, such as he/she/it (3SG), and use Notes and Word Classes in your own dictionary entry to specify what gender(s) or other features a pronoun applies to, and Grammar Tables to show the different inflections. For examples, see Phichene's different dictionary entries for he, she, and it, or Achiyitqan's animate, inanimate, and moderate pronouns. These two languages deal with CWS tables in different ways, with Phichene simply making one large table for all personal pronouns, and Achiyitqan's tables applying all relevant declensions to a single pronoun at a time.
There are a very small number of exceptions allowed to the Word Form Conventions. These are nouns that are very common, irregular, and refer to things that "naturally" occur in pairs or groups. So far, this list contains only two entries: feet and teeth.
As with everywhere else on the site, users are expected to follow our rules. While we allow WLs for violent, sexual, vulgar, or rude terms (because those are things that your language might include!), using the WL database specifically to insult, libel, or encourage violence against other people will result in penalization. The same is true of using any field on the WordLink page to link to obscene content (sexual, violent, or otherwise disgusting). Be careful when making WLs that address sensitive or controversial topics like disability, marginalised groups, genocide, reproductive rights, religion, or current events. The WordLink Database is not the place to make offensive "jokes."
Breaching site rules can result in penalties beyond the loss of WordLink privileges, up to and including the termination of your account and deletion of all your contributions to CWS.
These are guidelines, and as such, will not result in actions against your account for being breached. However, our WL Moderators may edit these as they see fit.
We recommend that users make their WLs and hints as succinct as possible while not sacrificing comprehension. For example, we previously had a WL that was "binding (the binding of rope or chain, the action of restricting something)" but "binding (restriction)" is perfectly sufficient. Use short phrases and common words and do not add any more information than necessary. If you are adding a definition as a hint, do not feel the need to add a complete and precise definition—additional information can be added to the Notes section on the WordLink page (and/or your own language's linked Word).
For Conworld-specific WLs
We often get questions from new users about whether or not they should add WLs for species, groups, religions, places, or other words that only exist within their conworlds. For example, if you've created a new sentient species, the Xr'ik, should you make a WordLink for "Xr'ik (species)"? Our general policy here is that you should only add WLs if you think they will actually be used for more than one language—they could be multiple languages of your own, but otherwise, we prefer you use other solutions.
We have a list of generic "Conworld-specific" WordLinks (there may be others in the database that are not linked to here yet). These have forms like "name of a country", "person of a sentient species", "speakers of this language", or "type of clothing". These are preferred, especially over WLs such as "woman (elvish)", which lead to increased clutter. For these WLs we suggest the forms "name of X" for proper nouns, and "type of X" for common nouns.
For conworld-specific WLs you can also keep in mind that world-agnostic or realworld WLs may serve just as well. For example, if your alien race has a large animal that they ride around on as a form of transportation, you could simply use the WordLink for "horse", instead of something like "type of animal" or "horse-like animal".
These are guidelines, rather than rules. (We still ask you to do your best to follow them.)
The amount of clutter in the WL database gets truly annoying sometimes. It makes it unnecessarily difficult to add new words when you have to sift through dozens of similar WLs. This sometimes even results in people adding exact or near-duplicate WLs, simply because they can't see the one that already exists. To reduce this problem, save space on the database, and keep everything linked up between languages as best as possible, we have a number of recommendations.
Firstly, don't add a new WordLink that is barely different from an existing one. For example, it is probably not necessary to have both "be (copula)" and "be (exist)", nor to have both "member (of a group)" and "member (of something)", nor "water (body of)" and "body of water (lake, etc.)" If your language happens to make some very nuanced differences, and there's no WordLink that's absolutely perfect but there's something very close, please use the "very close" WordLink and add Notes on your own Word entry. You can also do this when your language has two different words that are almost the same as one English word. (Example part one, part two.)
Secondly, we ask that you do not add separate WordLinks for the transitive, intransitive, or causative forms of verbs (e.g. "burn (be on fire)" and "burn (set something on fire)"), although we allow it when English has a different form (e.g. "fall (down)" vs. "fell (a tree)".)
Thirdly, we recommend that, especially when adding a new WL that has several similar WLs existing, instead of adding "simple wordlink (specifying hint)", add "specific wordlink (whatever hint)". For example, we get flooded (no pun intended) with "water" WLs, so we recommend that you use "fresh water (not salty)" instead of "water (fresh)". In looking up these types of options you may find that the WL you are looking for already exists. If you're not certain, do a search for "% water", and you'll find all the WLs containing "water".
Fourthly, please do not add additional WLs for grammaticalised parts of speech if one already exists. The grammaticalised parts of speech are adpositions, affixes, auxiliaries, conjunctions, determiners, and particles. (We recognise that this is an English-centric definition, but we trust you can work around it.) This means that if "the" exists as a determiner, it doesn't need to also exist as a particle and an affix. Likewise, if "want" exists as a verb, it doesn't need to exist as an auxiliary. "But my language considers "the" to be an affix!" That's OK—you can use the determiner WL and set your own Word entry as an affix. "But it's giving me a warning!" Yes—it's just a warning! It's there just in case you picked the wrong WL by accident.
Finally, we ask that you do not add new WLs for different grammatical genders, or similar distinctions that your language makes that English does not. For example, do not add "the (masculine)" or "the (feminine)" or "the (neuter, plural)". We know many, many languages make these kinds of distinctions, but you should show this in your own dictionary, by using Classes or Notes, instead of showing it on the WordLink. This also ties into the Word Form Convention rules; do not add additional WLs for the different cases of a noun, or the different tenses of a verb.
The Hint system was added to CWS very early on. It was originally to disambiguate between homonyms, like "bow (bend at the waist)", "bow (and arrows)", and "bow (ribbon)", or "make (cause)" and "make (create)". People would then add new WLs that they did not realise were ambiguous—which would then result in there being three or more WLs: the original (Hint-free, underspecified), two or more specific meanings, and sometimes an additional underspecified "[word] (generic)" WL—so we made hints mandatory for all new words.
Now that Hints are mandatory, it is sometimes difficult to know what to put down. The Hint usually serves as a definition of sorts. There are a few different ways people achieve this: a brief dictionary-style definition (especially for technical words—e.g. "fibula (shin bone)"), one or more synonyms (e.g. "vacant (unoccupied, empty)"), an antonym (e.g. "float (not sink)"), a supercategory (e.g. "oak (tree)"), or one or more defining examples (e.g. "sessile animal (e.g. barnacle)", or "light on fire (wood, match, etc.)"). Users also often add a specifying element, such as "water (fresh)", but as discussed above, we prefer the format "fresh water (not salty)" (or "fresh water (potable)", etc).
We recommend that if your Hint is supposed to be an example, you indicate that by using e.g., i.e., or etc. This averts the inevitable issue where another user, coming by your WL later, assumes your Hint is a synonym or limitation, and therefore adds another unnecessary WL. For example, someone might make the WL "run over (hit with car)", prompting someone else to eventually add "run over (hit with bus)" and "run over (with bicycle)" and "run over (any vehicle)"—if the first person had simply said "run over (e.g. with a car)", this wouldn't happen.
If you really can't think of any useful Hint, something like "generic" works fine. Please do not simply repeat the WL entry as its own hint (e.g. "horse (horse)"), as this is not helpful.