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Explain Fields


New contributors do not have a comprehensive understanding of your data model and can feel overwhelmed by the new concepts and terminology.


As contributors add to your project, it might be necessary to provide ongoing explanations for new concepts, new terminology, schema structure, specific formats (for coordinates for example, or how to name a person correctly), etc.


Because you do not know what your contributors might and might not know, give them all the help they could need as they are making a contribution.

  • Tooltips
  • Short reminders
  • Terms explanations
  • Step-by-step guide
  • Visual examples

Providing clear guidance, labelling and help text is part of the basic user experience of your site. It is particularly important to think about this in the context of collaborative maintenance as users might be undertaking detailed and repetitive tasks. Even for simple tasks, understanding how a field should be populated is important to maintain data quality.


Explanations for fields are displayed when the contributor clicks the question mark next to the field name. This technique is called a ‘tooltip’

Open Library

Reassuring advice and examples are displayed with the field names

Related patterns

Learning Curve

Contributors may not feel confident about successfully participating in your project, especially if they believe that they need some expert knowledge in order to contribute.

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