All our writing and editorial contributions are in service of a single purpose: To offer helpful guidance with long-term value that is trustworthy and accessible. This mission covers four principles, which each lead to practical standards meant to help authors, editors, contributors, and engaged readers work together.
We emphasize actionable knowledge over pure fact or narrative. We prefer to convey wisdom and know-how over static information. We do provide extensive detail, but aim to give context around facts and figures whenever helpful. We present multiple sides of important disagreements and controversies, because we believe thinking our way through problems teaches us more in the long run than being told what to do. We understand that readers’ time is limited and help them usefully prioritize what to read. By helping readers cut down on the time it takes to find knowledge they can trust, they’re able to take the time to understand the way problems work, and why those problems exist in the first place, enabling more of us to make better choices in the future.
We do not offer entertainment or leisure reading. We do not give narrow facts or answers when a fuller explanation would be useful. We believe that arguments and debate are essential components of knowledge-making, but discourage controversy or argument that is based in polemics rather than the legitimate, divergent concerns of experts.
We assume all readers are intelligent, even if they have little or no knowledge of a topic. We accept and convey the essential complexity of the material. We value clear definitions and logical structures that enable action. We give readers the tools and information to make better decisions on their own. Any recommendations we make are based on best practices and their rationale is explained. We include a range and depth of technical detail when such information serves a useful purpose. We work to continually meet the changing needs of our readers.
We do not tell the reader what to do or what to think without explanation. We do not oversimplify complex subjects to drive traffic with a promise of easy answers. We do not confuse ignorance with lack of intelligence.
We encourage a community of experts, authors, contributors, and readers to work together and share the different experiences each of them has had with a topic. This community builds knowledge that is responsive to feedback, suggestions, discussion, and changes in the subject matter, and maintains a commitment to building resources of high quality that meet readers' practical needs. We encourage readers to engage and suggest improvements.
We do not tolerate behavior that hurts the quality of writing or damages a productive and engaged community.
We do not publish in ways that mislead the reader, such as hiding conflicts of interest, or offering content, ads, or marketing with disguised or concealed motives. We do not allow plagiarism or violations of copyright law. We do not manipulate readers or push agendas. We do not sell products or ideas. We do not allow writing or contribution from any member of our team or readership that is likely to cause harm to individuals, communities, or society, including the discussion of criminal or dangerous behavior, the promulgation of misinformation, or the appropriation or misuse of narratives.
We focus on topics that have an ongoing presence in people’s lives, and content that will benefit from recurring use. We convey facts and ideas worth remembering.
We do not write learning materials that are useful to a reader only once. We do not use memes, clickbait, or other tricks to encourage short-term engagement at the expense of delivering long-term value.
We accept and embrace that every reference is a work in progress, and must be improved and updated. We hope that our project is also a work of process, designed to show readers the way, and not just the what. To that end, our material is responsive to reader feedback and questions, and evolves with the changing landscape of a given topic. Our editorial design as well as our product allow for updating and improvement of the material as our world changes.
We do not presume our writing or our process are ever perfect or complete.
We aim to publish the most reliable and in-depth resources available. This takes a lot of work from our managing staff, our authors, editors, and our readers. It means we value measuring the true depth of one topic over the breadth of many. It means we back up or dismantle assertions, verifying all facts and figures. It means embracing the essential complexity of learning.
We do not prioritize quantity of information over quality of insights, include facts with no indication of their significance, or include misleading, irrelevant, or harmful digressions from our purpose of actionable, community-sourced, expert-reviewed knowledge.
We value the full range of experience possible with a topic, knowing that questions and connections made by beginners are what excite and inform the work of experts. We also believe that practical life experience is of enormous value as we build a resource of actionable knowledge. We solicit and reconcile a variety of expert opinion and lay contribution, while staying responsive to reader feedback at all stages.
We seek a diverse set of contributors in order to ensure relevance for a broad set of readers, appreciating that individuals and groups with different backgrounds have different practical needs, perspectives, and priorities.
We do not insist on facts alone where the thoughtful opinions and actual experiences of individuals would be helpful. We do not avoid controversial subjects. We do not write for beginners only.
We state the scope of a Guide clearly, so contributors and readers know what to expect, what’s missing, and how to help. We reveal sources. All authors, contributors, and production staff use their real names. We credit contributions of all size clearly and fairly.
We align our interests with our readers’ interests when it comes to payments and incentives. We ask for payment when readers get content and features worth paying for.
We do not write content as a means to sell products or ads or derive revenue in ways that hurt our users or our contributors. We do not display banner advertising.
We believe in making high quality reference accessible to all those who seek it. Though reaching everyone takes time and practice, we work to meet the needs of as many audiences for a specific topic as possible, striving to address multiple roles, individuals, and groups of varying experience.
We do not write for experts only. We do not publish in ways that tend to exclude specific groups of people who could be interested in, benefit from, or contribute to contextual, practical knowledge.
We write in a form appropriate to readers of diverse circumstance. We focus on making reading a low-friction experience. We want all readers to learn something immediately—starting with, “I can do this.” We write with clarity and brevity so information can be absorbed quickly. We use graphics and visualizations whenever they aid in understanding.
We use technology to further our writing objectives. Our commitment to accessibility includes discoverability: we gather relevant primary research, varying expert opinion, and practical experience, and synthesize it all into a searchable, shareable, curated product. We may use interactive features and graphics. We may use search and language-understanding technologies whenever it helps the reader experience. We develop technologies that will keep reading a frictionless experience.
We do not distract the user from the information with pop-ups or obtrusive ads, nor do we sacrifice quality content for cool features that don’t serve a purpose.