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Resources for Using & Editing Wikipedia

Resources about using and editing Wikipedia.

Understanding Wikipedia

In editing Wikipedia it is important to understand fist and foremost that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and therefore a reference text. As such, Wikipedia requires a specific style unique from research, argumentative, or expository papers. The following section details the expectations of editors as they start contributing to Wikipedia, whether it is adding content or citations. 

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
  • Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute
  • Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
  • Wikipedia has no firm rules

Conflicts of Interest

On Notability in Wikipedia

When creating a new page for Wikipedia, it is essential to establish the topic's notability. This is done by proving that the topic has "received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject." [1] If there has been significant coverage, demonstrated through sufficient references within the article, that is generally enough to justify an article or list on the topic in Wikipedia. 

If there are not enough verifiable sources that can be referenced in the article, it may be best to start a discussion about the topic on the talk page of another related article. 

Defining the terms

  • 'Significant coverage' addresses the topic directly and in detail, so that no original research is needed to extract the content. Significant coverage is more than a trivial mention but it need not be the main topic of the source material.[1]
  • 'Reliable' means sources need editorial integrity to allow verifiable evaluation of notability, per the reliable source guideline. Sources may encompass published works in all forms and media, and in any language. Availability of secondary sources covering the subject is a good test for notability.
  • 'Sources' should be secondary sources, as those provide the most objective evidence of notability. There is no fixed number of sources required since sources vary in quality and depth of coverage, but multiple sources are generally expected. Sources do not have to be available online and do not have to be in English. Multiple publications from the same author or organization are usually regarded as a single source for the purposes of establishing notability.
  • 'Independent of the subject' excludes works produced by the article's subject or someone affiliated with it. For example, advertising, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject's website are not considered independent.
  • 'Presumed' means that significant coverage in reliable sources creates an assumption, not a guarantee, that a subject should be included. A more in-depth discussion might conclude that the topic actually should not have a stand-alone article—perhaps because it violates what Wikipedia is not, particularly the rule that Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information.

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Creating an Account

In order to make the process of making a edits or creating new pages simpler, we suggest that new editors Create an Account. Though not absolutely necessary to edit, it is strongly encouraged so that you can establish your credentials as an editor to earn Autoconfirmed User status. One becomes an Autoconfirmed user after having an account for a certain number of days and completing a certain number of edits (subject to change based on discussion among Wikipedians). Autoconfirmed users can "create articlesmove pages, edit semi-protected pages, and upload files or upload a new version of an existing file." [1

Sandbox: Once you're logged into your account, you have a sandbox area, accessible through a link in the upper right hand corner of the page, where you can practice editing and draft changes. Make use of the Sandbox as a new user and then copy your changes into live entries. You can link people to your Sandbox, but it will not be searchable on Wikipedia.

Editing for a class assignment: If you are editing for a class, you can register for an account through your class WikiEdu dashboard (provided via Canvas). 

Wikipedia Edit-a-thons: If you are attending a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, you can register for an account through the event dashboard (provided by the event coordinators). If you have difficulties the event coordinator should be able to provide assistance. 

Note: Anonymous editing (without signing into an account) is allowed, but those edits are registered by IP address, and are subject to greater scrutiny.