MeritBadgeDotOrg:Knots Collaboration

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Image:People_icon.png This is a Collaboration, an open group of editors dedicated to improving MeritBadgeDotOrg's coverage of a particular area or topic, or to organizing some internal MeritBadgeDotOrg process.
Please see the Guide to Collaboration and the Directory of Collaboration for more information.


The purpose of this Collaboration is to refine the standard template for how knots are documented, to bring knot up articles to a common standard, and to categorize knots with respect to type and usage.


  • Add articles

Sample article

The Clove hitch article is the sample of this collaboration. It should set the standard for how a knot article can look.

Organization and types of articles

  • Main article: Knot
  • Individual knot articles
  • Knot categories: Category:Knots
  • Classes of knots
  • Knot components
  • Ropework articles (Whipping, lashing, etc.)

Project Templates

Talk Page Template

The {{Knots Collaboration}} Template is used on the Talk Pages. Template:Knots

User Page Template

The {{User Knots Collaboration}} Template can be used on a member's user page.

This user is a member of the Knots Collaboration


Informal guidelines on editing knotting articles

  • Don't get too hung-up on the names for knots; knot taxonomy has always been messy
  • Be absolutely certain your images and diagrams are correct
  • Maintain a descriptive tone when writing about knot usage and tying methods
  • Organize and consolidate knot articles in a way that will make sense to the reader

The name is not the knot

People sometimes get overly attached to the name they learned for a knot. Contributors should remember that the article is about the knot itself; the name is not the knot. Since the same knot has often been discovered by multiple people, who speak different languages, at different times, the various names for many knots will need to be explained in a "Naming" or "History" section of the article. Names in languages other than English should only be included if they represent the source for the English name or otherwise figure prominently in the history of the knot.

Of course the article itself must have a title and it should be chosen to represent the currently most recognizable name. The choice of titles holds special difficulty for knotting articles due to the historic vagaries of knot naming. Compared to most other significant areas of study, knot taxonomy (for non-mathematical purposes) has never satisfactorily been dealt with.

Defer to Ashley

Clifford W. Ashley gave us the closest thing we have to a proper knot taxonomy and his names should be used when current common usage doesn't clearly indicate the proper choice. While it continues to age and show gaps as new knots and knotting materials are invented, The Ashley Book of Knots remains an invaluable resource for the discussion and dissemination of knotting knowledge. It is an expensive book, but if you have an interest in the subject of knotting it is well-worth the price. Also many public libraries have circulating copies which represent a viable, and cheaper, alternative.

Ashley provides both a source for semi-canonical naming as well as unambigous identification using the knot reference numbers. When confusion threatens, do not be afraid to resort of the use of Ashley's reference numbers. If you do so, it is helpful to provide an image with captions of the referenced knots including their Ashley names and numbers to help readers follow the discussion.

Scope of articles

Remember to add {{WikiProject Knots}} template to the talk pages of new articles.

While particular articles may have additional sections specific to a given knot, these are the recommended sections and ordering for non-stub knot articles:

Infobox Template:Knot-article

Creating images for knot articles

Given the difficulty in verbally describing the forms of knots and tying methods, the inclusion of images, diagrams, or other illustrations in knotting articles is strongly encouraged. Above all, make absolutely certain your illustrations are correct. Knotting literature is rife with examples of incorrect diagrams and pictures. Having no image for an article is better than including an incorrect one. When creating graphical depictions of knots, tying methods, or usage examples, it is important to avoid potential visual ambiguities. Make sure that all crossings of the knot can clearly be seen in the graphics, in some cases this will mean spreading the knot out artifically when making the image or diagram.

Adhering to certain visual conventions can help make your images more useful to the reader. Be careful to keep end(s) of the rope within the frame when picturing knots which rely on the end being threaded while tying. This helps differentiate the standing part from the working part. Likewise, the standing part should be shown exiting the frame. For knots tied in the bight, both ends should exit the frame. These conventions may need to be broken in particular cases, but keep them in mind.

When taking photographs of knots it is best to use solid colored rope, plain neutral backgrounds, and plenty of lighting that highlights the three dimensional relationship between the parts of the knot. Avoid using white or black rope in your knot images. And more generally, avoid excessive contrast between the foreground and background, as this can present exposure difficulties for digital cameras.

Writing about methods and usage

Practical knots are functional constructs and descriptions of their usage and method of formation are integral to comprehensive encyclopedia articles about them. Due to possible conflicts with WP:NOT#IINFO, "4. Instruction manuals", contributors should make every effort to maintain a purely descriptive tone when writing about the usage and tying of knots. The use of verifiable and reliable sources is critical to avoid NPOV issues, especially regarding the "best" ways to tie or use a knot, one knot's superiority over another, and other potentially subjective claims.

Consolidation of closely related knots and variations

The impulse to seperate every single distinct knot onto its own page has the undesired side effect of fragmenting the discussion of how knots are related. It also makes comparsions between variations more cumbersome for the user. Obviously a line does need to be drawn somewhere, else we'd end up with a single article containing every conceivable knot! However in cases where there's close historical, taxonomic, or structural similarity between multiple knots, having redirects pointing to a common page makes a lot of sense.


  • The Slipped buntline hitch should redirect to Buntline hitch since it is a trivial but important variation which is best be illustrated on the Buntline hitch page.
  • As a counter-example, the Water bowline should not be redirected to Bowline as its structure and behavior are quite distinct from the basic Bowline.
  • More complex situations might require different strategies. In the case of the Rolling hitch and Taut-line hitch several names have historically been used to refer to a number of similar but distinct knots in confusing and conflicting ways. The solution here was to divide the set of knots into two functional groups, hitches directly around an object and adjustable loops where the hitch is made around the standing part. The variations of each are discussed these two pages with appropriate cross references. If each distinct variation had its own page there would be up to 6 articles with either redundant information, incomplete articles, or a mire of cross-references.
  • When a knot has two (or more) well established names which are consistently found in entirely seperate contexts it may be reasonable to maintain distinct articles for each of the names with appropriate cross-references between them. For example the four-in-hand knot used to fasten neckties is technically exactly the same as a buntline hitch. With so much history behind both names there seems little likelihood sailors would ever refer to "their" hitch as a four-in-hand or haberdashers to a buntline hitch. Although this contradicts "the name is not the knot", it would seem there are cases where common sense should prevail.
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