Rules of Thumb
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This page is where I'm going to start collecting some of the little observations by staff and users on various aspects of the wiki. Keep in mind that these are just rules of thumb, not site rules, and that breaking them won't get you punished, but will more likely than not get you mocked.

If you have any suggestions for new additions, make a comment on chat or in the article discussion.

  • Rule of Rule-Breaking: Articles can break any of these rules, as long as your audience collectively enjoys the end result.
  • Gears' Razor: When in doubt, the scarier option is probably correct.
  • Troy's General Suggestion: There can be no happiest endings. There can be bad endings, good endings, even happy endings, but never a happiest ending. That's not a story; it's a fairy tale. Taint the good with a touch of suffering, and you'll get the effect you want.
  • The Fundamental Base of the Unsaid: Redacting and Expunging are not used for fear. They're used to hide knowledge. The fear created is the possibility, implication, or terror of what might be there. Because essentially, the imagination of the person reading the article is the one filling in the gap, and they can always frighten themselves better than you can. Additionally, redacting/expunging information in the containment procedures is silly. In universe, they tell you how to properly handle the SCP, and what to do if it escapes. Does it ever make sense to hide that information?
  • Alten's Observation: Just because it's threatening doesn't make it frightening. Danger alone will not carry an article.
  • Sorts' Law: Memetic effect + Crazy to death = Failure. If your SCP compels people to use it for no good reason, people will feel compelled to downvote. It reads like cheap, tacked-on danger.
  • The Bright Principle: If you carefully choose your words for tact, it's possible whoever you're talking to will get the message. If you're as blunt as possible, it's certain.
  • Clef's Rule: If your SCP can be described as one of the following, it probably sucks.
    1. "An X that does X really well."
    2. "An X that kills you unless Y."
    3. "An X that is literally Y from pop culture reference Z."
  • Clef's Addendum: Some ideas need to be executed perfectly to cross the line into awesome.
  • Spikebrennan's Spackle: Redaction can mask a small plot hole or gap in logic, but not a major one. Maintaining suspension of disbelief requires knowing the difference.
  • Quik's Advice: From the days when applicants to the wiki had to come get advice from a chat op…
    1. You cannot please everyone all the time.
    2. Keep a thick skin— people around here are brutally honest.
    3. When in doubt, lurk more.
    4. You cannot be certain what people will really like— or really hate.
    5. Don't pour your heart and soul into an SCP before it's posted— wait until you know it's going to stick.
  • Gears' Axiom: If you look at your new SCP, and don't feel a little uneasy about your own mental state, or worry that others might think you're starting to get unhinged, it probably needs a bit more work.
  • Regarding Pictures: Your SCP will probably be better with a picture. Preferably a unique picture. Movie stills, drawings, and pictures associated with other creepypasta are recommended against.
  • The Second Rule About Pictures: The more text you need to describe what you're visualizing, the more your article needs a picture.
  • Smapti's Third Law of Pictures: The more text you have to dedicate to justifying your picture, the less likely it is that you needed a picture in the first place.
  • Soulless' Rule of Fate: There are fates worse than death. Death is not scary, death is a release; be creative in your writing.
  • Sal's Advisory: If everyone on the chat or forums tells you not to post something, you probably shouldn't post it.
  • Tuomey's Relation: As the amount of articles a person has read/written approaches zero, the percentage chance they are doing it wrong approaches 100.
  • Real Life Rule: If a real live thing is made into an SCP, the SCP article must be at least as interesting as that real live thing.
  • SCPs in the Tall Grass Rule: All stories detailing how an SCP was discovered should follow the following criteria:
    1. The story should add to the article. It is not necessary to show how every SCP was discovered. Sometimes, not including a discovery story adds to an article.
    2. The story should be believable. The Foundation is a huge international super-governmental organization. SCPs should not be discovered when an agent finds them on the ground or they make a scene one time.
    3. The Foundation is perfectly capable of being the first on the trail. MC&D, the CI, and the GOC don’t have to discover an SCP before the Foundation does.
  • The First Rule of Detail Conservation: Detail is important, but too much detail can over-complicate an SCP. Think An X That Does Y as opposed to An X That Does Y Unless Z Happens In which Case A Happens Also B Can Happen if Y and B Somehow Happen Together. Does the supplementary article you're about to publish for your SCP really bring something important to the table?
  • Scantron's Rule of Thumb: Your article should be longer than your thumb.
  • Desirable Item Rule: SCPs that you would want should also be SCPs that you are worried about someone else having.
  • Outside Perspective Rule: Before posting an article, read it as though you were reading someone else's work for the first time. If you wouldn't upvote it, then it's likely that neither would they.
  • Dialogue Rule: When writing dialogue, read it out loud, for real. If it feels at all unnatural to say, it's not likely that anyone would actually say it.
  • Separation Relation: As an SCP becomes more similar to an existing article, the likelihood of it receiving upvotes approaches zero.
  • Rule of Research: Know your shit. If your article includes some kind of real-world science, whether through containment or through the item's effect, do some basic research so it makes logical sense from a scientific standpoint. It would take five minutes to Google and double check something you're not sure about - it's better to spend a bit of extra time to make sure your facts are accurate, than to have your article ripped apart because you couldn't Google.
  • Eisenberg's Observation - An SCP is like a revolutionary tribunal - all about the execution.
  • Drewbear's Warning of Newbie Feedback Looping: Although good comments and critiques can come from new members, remember that they are, by definition, much less experienced in what works and what doesn't than more established contributors. Don't rely entirely on feedback, bad OR good, from other newbies.
  • Informal Explanation Protip: The use of quotes to provide an informal explanation of something in an SCP should supplement a clinical description of the phenomenon, not replace it.
  • The Mayonnaise Principle: Squick and shock are to an article what mayonnaise is to food. It can greatly improve an otherwise bland fare when used in proper amounts, which vary - some people like to lay it on with a trowel, others like just a dash. However, most everyone agrees mayonnaise alone makes for a poor meal.
  • ARD's Corollary: As a forum thread grows longer, the probability of SCP-231 being used for sexual innuendo approaches 1. Once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned 231 has automatically lost.
  • Sirpudding's Meme Test: If there exists the possibility that someone is immune because they fail to understand the message (for example if they don't speak the language), then your hazard is memetic.
  • Mistbourne's Musing: Write your SCP in reverse (Description, then Containment, and then and only then the Object Class). Object Class should be derived from the Description and Containment, it shouldn't drive them.
  • Scorpion's Paradoxes:
    • As explicitly stated violence/destructive potential increases, perceived threat decreases.
    • As normalcy increases, the perceived weirdness of remaining abnormalities increases.
    • Until suspension of disbelief is broken, as realism decreases, plausibility increases.
    • The less compatible two concepts are, the better they work together as an SCP.
  • The Narrative Clarification: Putting a narrative into an SCP doesn't always require any sort of dialogue or traditional prose. An SCP can tell a story just by clinically describing an anomaly the same way a good photograph tells a story just by artfully capturing one moment.
  • Niles' Findings: When writing up a concept, the iterations least likely to succeed are the ones that first spring to mind when the concept is described. The immediate and obvious do not usually lead themselves to success.
  • Uranium's Observation: If you're having trouble writing dialogue styles, the first thing you should do is decide when and how often a given character typically drops an f-bomb, based on what you know about the character. Extrapolate from there.
  • Rev's Revelation: Some tropes are simply unavoidable. Think of them as stepping stones spanning a river. They can help you get from point A to point B, but you ain't gonna sit and unpack a picnic on one.
  • Battle's Bit: You should know every detail of your story while drafting your concept, even if you don't reveal it in your final article. There should be no "for some reason" or "nobody knows" in your concept.
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