Bluepages:Guide to editing

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Thank you for your interest in contributing to Bluepages! This guide to editing will help you learn the basics of what you need to know to help us achieve our goal of becoming a truly global historical directory. You may have already seen our small network of example articles, which should give you a sense of what a detailed and "finished" article might look like, but if doing all of that work by yourself looks intimidating to you, don't worry! Every little bit helps, and we're more than happy to have you contribute one sentence at a time! Also, remember that nothing you write needs to be perfect right away – every page on this website is a work in progress and always will be, and there will always be someone happy to fix even the biggest mistakes you could make.

What to write about[edit source]

You can write a Bluepages article about nearly any location you want! Good topics may include schools, places of worship, stores, restaurants, parks, and hospitals. There is no location too obscure to write about, and we're just as happy to hear about the place that opened last week as we are to hear about the business that's been running for a hundred years. When you start looking into it, you may be surprised to find out how much history there is just about everywhere! However, keep in mind that we generally discourage people from writing articles about individual houses, unless they were at one point the location of a business or public service, because it's difficult to write a good article about them without violating the privacy of the house's current and former residents.

Conflicts of interest[edit source]

Editing or creating an article about a place or organization you're connected with is not strictly against our rules. However, please keep in mind that Bluepages is not an advertising site. We do not make business recommendations and we have no interest in directing people toward (or away from) your business. We understand that you may be passionate about your subject, but please keep what you add to Bluepages objective and neutral. If you violate these principles, and especially if you're deliberately removing well-sourced negative information about a place you have close connections with, you may be permanently banned from editing Bluepages. If you have sincere concerns about the accuracy of statements on the site that criticize you or your organization, please contact the administrator here.

How to find information[edit source]

The first thing you'll need to know is where and how to find the information you want to add to Bluepages. Try searching for keywords on Google, and using advanced search tools to better narrow it down to the pages you're looking for. For example, you can use the site: tag to get results from only one website, and place quotes around a phrase to get only pages that contain that exact phrase. Searching "5000 Washington" will only bring up articles from the Racine Journal Times that specifically mention 5000 Washington Avenue in their hometown of Racine, Wisconsin.

Google can't find everything, though. You may want to look for old issues of local newspapers on websites like,, and GenealogyBank. All of these sites charge quite a bit of money for access to articles, but if your local newspaper is in any of them, you may be able to access them for free with a library card from your local library. An incomplete list of online newspaper archives that are free, either to everyone or only to local library card holders, can be found here. If you use these sites to find information for Bluepages, please share a copy with us of the specific article you're using, so that other people can read it and verify that what you're writing is correct. Another great resource is, where you can find rare satellite and aerial imagery of most places in the United States, going back to as early as 1940.

Not all of the useful information you may want to find is on the Internet, either. Your local library probably has a collection of local directories and phone books which have probably never been digitized, and these can be extremely helpful for finding out what was where and when it was there. They may also have old newspapers that aren't available online in the form of reels of microfilm, as well as a wide variety of other helpful materials. Lastly, if you know something from personal experience, but you can't find any evidence to back it up, feel free to ask an experienced user on this site for help!

Citing sources[edit source]

In general, any information about a place which can't easily be observed by going to that place needs to be properly cited. "The building has a blue roof" doesn't necessarily need a source to back it up, but "the building's roof used to be blue" does, and so does "the building's roof was painted blue in 1983". (Keep in mind that, due to the passage of time and the constant change of all things that makes this site necessary, something which once needed no citations might suddenly start to need them!) For information on how to create and use footnotes on Bluepages, see the "Formatting" section below.

Uploading files[edit source]

To upload a file, such as a picture, click the "Upload file" link on the left sidebar. If you're this far down this page, you'll probably need to scroll up to find it. The process should be fairly self-explanatory from there: choose a file from your computer by clicking the "Browse..." button, then give it a name that explains what the file is in the "Destination filename" box, and lastly explain where you got it and give any further details you want in the "Summary" box.

We strongly encourage you to either take your own pictures, or ask for permission from the people who took them before you upload. Please do not upload images that have been manipulated since they were taken, such as by adding Instagram filters or watermarks. This includes screenshots taken from Google Street View, which contain watermarks from Google.

Writing your article[edit source]

Bluepages runs on MediaWiki, the same software used by popular websites like Wikipedia. If you have experience with editing Wikipedia, you probably don't need to read this section which covers the basics of how to write in a MediaWiki format, but you may want to check out our guide on some of the big differences between Bluepages and Wikipedia.

Title[edit source]

The title of your article should generally be something like 5000 Washington Avenue (Racine, Wisconsin). In other words, a street address followed by the city and state where that address is located in parentheses. Titling articles like this, rather than naming it after the business or organization that currently exists there, means that the article won't have to be moved when the business closes or the building is demolished and replaced with a new one. On the other hand, some things are relatively permanent and/or they don't really have a street address, like Starbuck Middle School (Racine, Wisconsin). Also, locations within a chain of stores or restaurants should have a separate article from the place where they're located: for example, there is a separate page for Kmart 4477 and for 1750 Ohio Street (Racine, Wisconsin). This is because articles about chain locations are usually automatically generated and are used to create databases.

Titles should be as concise and simple as possible, but should never use abbreviations: 5000 Washington Avenue rather than 5000 Washington Ave. or 5000 Highway 20. If the address contains a cardinal direction, use it unabbreviated, but don't include it in the article about the street unless it's actually part of the official street name: 1122 North Main Street (Racine, Wisconsin) is located on Main Street (Racine, Wisconsin), not North Main Street.

When you know what the title of your article should be, simply type it into the search bar exactly as you want it to appear in the article. Unless someone has already created it, you'll get a result like Create the page "5000 Washington Avenue (Racine, Wisconsin)" on this wiki!, and you can click the link to begin editing!

Formatting[edit source]

To create a link to another Bluepages article, type the title of the article surrounded by [[ and ]], such as [[5000 Washington Avenue (Racine, Wisconsin)]]. If you want the text that appears when you're reading the article to be different from the title of the article the link takes you to, use a pipe character (|). For example, writing [[5000 Washington Avenue (Racine, Wisconsin)|the restaurant on the corner]] will create a link that looks like this: the restaurant on the corner. Notice that parentheses and commas are automatically recognized by the pipe character, so a link like [[5000 Washington Avenue (Racine, Wisconsin)|]] will appear as 5000 Washington Avenue even without anything after the pipe, and [[Racine, Wisconsin|]] will show up as simply Racine. If the article you'd like to link to doesn't exist yet, link it anyway! The link will appear red, and seeing that red link might encourage somebody else (if not you) to write it.

If you want to cite your sources while writing, which we strongly, strongly encourage you to do, use the <ref> and </ref> tags to surround your reference. For example, you could write:

<ref>Racine 1955 City Directory, page 590.</ref> 

The reference would then appear as a footnote, like the one at the end of this sentence.[1] Most of the time, your source will be something which is already available online, and you can create a link inside the reference by surrounding the URL with [ and ] – notice that there's only one pair of square brackets, slightly different from the two pairs of square brackets that are used to create a link within Bluepages. Also notice that you use a space, not a pipe, to separate the URL from the text you want to appear. A finished reference might look like this:

<ref>[ Racine 1955 City Directory], page 590.</ref> 

That reference appears as the footnote at the end of this sentence.[2] Lastly, make sure the list of references appears at the bottom of your page by adding these two lines:


Coordinates[edit source]

The first line of any new article should almost always be the geographic coordinates of the location the article is about. You can put them in as follows:


Simply replace the words latitude and longitude with the decimal latitude and longitude of your location, like this:

  • To find those coordinates using OpenStreetMap, click the button with a picture of a cursor and a question mark on the right side of your screen, then click on your location. The URL of the page should change to something like The numbers after ?lat= and &lon=, not the numbers after #map=17/, are the latitude and longitude of the point you've chosen.
  • To find the coordinates on Google Maps on a desktop or laptop computer, right-click on your location and select "What's here?", and a small box will pop up at the bottom of your screen, containing the location's address and two decimal numbers separated by a comma, such as "44.262918, -88.373257".
  • To do the same thing on the Google Maps mobile app, press and hold on your location and a red pin will appear there along with a menu reading "Dropped pin" at the bottom of the screen. Pull the menu up and you'll see those decimal numbers near the bottom of the page.

Infobox[edit source]

Most articles should contain an infobox, which sits in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and provides quick facts about the article's topic. For the most part, you should use Infobox building. To use that template in an article, copy the following text and paste it in just below the coordinates at the top of the page:

{{Infobox building
| name = 
| image = 
| former_names = 
| alternate_names = 
| building_type = 
| location = 
| start_date = 
| opened_date = 
| inauguration_date = 
| relocated_date = 
| renovation_date = 
| closing_date = 
| demolition_date = 
| owner = 
| landlord = 
| height = 
| structural_system = 
| material = 
| size = 
| floor_count = 
| floor_area = 
| elevator_count = 
| grounds_area = 
| architect = 
| developer = 
| main_contractor = 
| seating_type = 
| seating_capacity = 
| number_of_stores = 
| number_of_anchors = 
| affiliation = 
| number_of_rooms = 
| number_of_suites = 
| number_of_restaurants = 
| number_of_bars = 
| facilities = 

You can then fill in the relevant information after each equals sign. Not all of these qualities will be relevant to the building you're writing about, so feel free to remove those lines or leave them blank. The intended meaning of each field should be mostly self-explanatory based on their names, but a few of them may require further explanation:

  • The image field should be the filename of an image that's already been uploaded to Bluepages (see the "Uploading files" section above for instructions). For example: image = Starbuck Middle School, 2011.JPG
  • The location field should be the address of the building, and should contain a link to the street where the address is located. Also, you can place the address and the city on two separate lines by writing <br/> between them. For example: location = 1516 [[Ohio Street (Racine, Wisconsin)|]]<br/>[[Racine, Wisconsin]]
  • The start_date, opened_date, and inauguration_date fields may sound redundant, but they each have their own separate purpose. start_date should be the date that construction began on the building; opened_date should be the date that the building began being used for its intended purpose, such as the opening of a store; and inauguration_date should be the date of any ceremony held to honor the opening of the building, if that ceremony took place on a different day from the opening itself.
  • Please include links to any businesses, but not individual people, that may fit in the owner, landlord, architect, developer, and main_contractor fields.

Categories[edit source]

This image should give you a general idea of the structure of Bluepages categories. Click to zoom in.

Most articles should be in at least two categories, which give different levels of specificity. For an example of how this should work, Kmart 4477 is in the categories Category:Kmart stores in Wisconsin and Category:Discount department stores in Racine, Wisconsin. Category:Discount department stores in Racine, Wisconsin, in turn, is in the categories Category:Discount department stores in Wisconsin and Category:Department stores in Racine, Wisconsin. You can use the categories to navigate between pages, as clicking on one will provide you with a list of all the pages that are in that category. With this structure, every page will eventually be under one big meta-category, and there should be several different ways of getting to a particular page from up there.

References[edit source]

  1. Racine 1955 City Directory, page 816.
  2. Racine 1955 City Directory, page 590.