Help:Writing about a person

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Writing about people is the most important task in the Encyclopedia right now. If you are excited and ready to go, feel free to start and use your judgment. If you're unsure about how exactly to proceed, this page contains some information that may help you get oriented.

If you haven't already read the Introduction to editing in the Encyclopedia, take the time to read it now, and watch the screencast video if you can. It should help get you oriented with the process of making edits. This page omits that side, and concentrates on researching and writing.


[edit] General notes on writing about people

The process of turning an empty article into one like Grady Sizemore involves three different skills:

  1. Researching the player
  2. Writing a narrative
  3. Formatting the article (technical things like footnotes)

You can choose to do all three, but you don't have to. If you like to do research and find facts, just do that - this article will help you add them to the article in a way that makes them useful. If you just like to write, find an article with some facts and turn them into a narrative.

You don't have to worry, in either case, about getting the technical details right, because there will be someone else willing to take on the third task. If you are concerned about having to learn the codes, see Matt Stairs's page, which uses no formatting at all. You can edit Matt's page and see for yourself that it is plain text (except for the notice at the top, which is not part of the article).

[edit] Researching and adding information

The SABR Encyclopedia is designed to be a central place to find information on baseball topics. This includes people, and for a person who is involved in baseball the Encyclopedia will ideally contain links to online sources about the person and notes about offline sources.

In general, it is appropriate to add any individual fact that is notable about a person, that person's life, or that person's career in baseball, as long as you note the source of the information. You can add it as part of a sentence, or a point on a bulleted list. If you can't find a way to work it into the page at all, add it to the discussion page instead.

It is not appropriate to try to import all of the information from an article published elsewhere (offline or online), especially if much of the information is widely available. The best practice in this case is to add a link or reference to the article. In most cases, you might pull one or two facts that are unique to that article, and leave the rest.

There is no need to worry about getting the style exactly correct when you add information, since the format of the encyclopedia makes it easy for someone else to reshape the information and make it fit with the article. This is a natural part of the editing process and allows you to focus on what you do best. If you like to find facts, find facts and add them. If you'd rather edit grammar and style, do that instead.

Any information you add about a player that is not either a part of the statistical record or common knowledge should include a citation referring to the source where you found the information - see the help article on citing sources to learn how to cite various source types. That page also details how to include an explanation in a footnote.

[edit] The short narrative

You'll notice if you edit a player's page, there is a field up at the top called "short narrative". This is a short (one to three sentence) summary of a player's career, and possibly the current role for active players.


  • Warren Spahn was a Hall of Fame starting pitcher. He played in the National League from 1942 to 1965, and managed until 1971.
  • Matt Stairs has been a Major League Baseball Player since 1992. Stairs has played primarily in the outfield, at first base, and as designated hitter for a total of 11 teams. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, mostly as a pinch hitter.
  • Grady Sizemore is a Major League center fielder and three-time all star. He has played for the Cleveland Indians since his Major League debut in 2004.
  • Josh Faiola is a relief pitcher who has pitched in the minor leagues and the independent Frontier League since 2006.
  • Bud Selig is the ninth commissioner of baseball, first elected in 1998. Until 1998, he was a major league baseball team owner.

[edit] Building a narrative

Ideally, each person in the Encyclopedia will have a short narrative describing their career and any interesting facts about their career and life.

The style of the narrative is entirely up to you, but if you don't feel comfortable starting from scratch, consider this rough outline:

  • Early life – including hometown (often different from place of birth), participaton in baseball and other sports (for example, Grady Sizemore was a football star).
  • College and/or early professional career – this might start with getting drafted, cover some time in the minors, and end with a move to the majors.
  • Major league career – For players who reached the majors, a concise account of their time there. This may include more than just performance – contract negotiations, for example, are well within the domain of baseball research.
  • Life after career peak – Managing, going back to the minors, running a bowling alley.
  • Notable non-baseball facts. An example is that Matt Stairs plays and coaches amateur hockey, and has permission to play in the offseason written into his contract.

This structure is not a rule, but all of these items are worthwhile material for a player article.

[edit] Scope of the Encyclopedia and the Bioproject

SABR's existing project to write biographies of players is a well-run effort that is working hard to create quality single-author biographies of baseball players. If you are interested in creating a long-form biography of a player that is your work alone, the Bioproject is the right place to pursue that. In the Encyclopedia, you will receive credit for your edits, but you will never "own" an article, and it will always be open to revision by others.

However, the SABR Encyclopedia has a very broad scope, and has been built to accommodate articles on everyone every involved in professional baseball. This makes it the perfect place to document players about whom there is not enough information to create a full-length biography, and to create informative summaries for the rest.

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