Wikipedia:Training/Meta

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This orientation for students editing Wikipedia as a class assignment consists of four main modules:

  • Welcome, a short introduction;
  • The Core, an overview of Wikipedia's core principles;
  • Editing, a tutorial on the basic mechanics of editing pages and communicating with others; and
  • Advanced, some selected advanced topics to help you get off to a good start with your first article.

In total, the four modules should take about one hour to complete.

[[|Start the training.]]


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Contents

Getting started

Printable guides

These printable PDF documents have instructions related to the basics of Wikipedia.

  • Wiki markup quick reference – a one-page quick reference (included in the Welcome to Wikipedia brochure) to help you remember the most frequently used wiki markup codes.
  • References – explains why references are important, what the expectations for sourcing on Wikipedia are, where to place references, and the basics of adding "ref" tags.
  • Reference formatting – explains in more detail how to create footnotes for citing sources, and how to cite the same source multiple times.
  • Using talk pages – explains how to use talk pages to communicate with other editors.
  • Choosing an article – explains the Dos and Don'ts of choosing an article to work on.
  • How to get help – explains the recommended way to get help and feedback. It also includes a glossary of additional help resources you can avail yourself of.
  • Avoiding plagiarism – explains what plagiarism is on Wikipedia—including "close paraphrasing"—in addition to why and how to avoid it.

On-wiki tutorials

Tutorial videos

Editing basics: Sandboxes Editing basics: bold and links
How to start an a sandbox page to play around with wiki markup or start an article draft (1m 16s) How to use the most basic features of wiki markup to create bold text and links to other pages (3m 37s)
How to use a watchlist How to use talk pages
How to use a watchlist to keep track of pages you are interested in or have edited (2m 16s) How to interact with other editors using talk pages, including article talk pages and user talk pages (2m 43s)
Editing basics: citing sources Citing sources with RefToobar
How to add citations using "ref" tags (2m 3s) How to use the "Cite" tool for inserting automatically formatted references (2m 25s)
Adding images
Uploading files such as images to Wikimedia Commons, using the upload wizard, and adding them to articles (2 min 41 sec)


Writing articles

Printable guides

Article-writing tutorial videos

Article creation Article improvement
A demonstration, recorded live, of how to create a Wikipedia article (7 min 50 sec) A look at how to assess the shortcomings of an article and improve it (4m 22s)
Article assessments Article evolution
An exploration of the standard article assessment system, with examples of each quality level (11m 30s) A trip through the history of an article, from humble beginnings to Good Article status (6m 25s)


Getting help

For most kinds of help on Wikipedia—technical questions; policies and guidelines; etiquette; conflicts with editors; feedback and reviews of your work—the first place you should turn is the "Discussion" tab of your course page. On the course talk page, you can also see what questions and requests for feedback your classmates posted, and you may be able to learn from the answers they got or answer their questions yourself.

  1. Go to your course page, click the “Discussion” tab, and post your question or request in a new section. (Be sure to sign your post with four tildes — ~~~~ — and enter an edit summary before you save it.)
  2. If you don't get a response within a day or two, ask your instructor.

Places to get help

Discussions in the right places

  • Article talk pages – The talk pages of articles are typically where discussions about the content of articles take place. Other editors may leave messages about your work here. If someone reverts changes you make to an article, the talk page is where you should start a discussion. Put it on your watchlist!
  • Wikipedia Campus or Online Ambassadors – If your class is working with one or more Wikipedia Ambassadors, the Ambassador(s) to meet with you or talk with you by email to discuss problems and questions about Wikipedia.
  • Course talk page – This is the main place for discussing your assignments, posting problems or questions that come up, and giving and receiving feedback about your articles. Put it on your watchlist!
  • WikiProject talk pages – These are message boards for users interested in editing articles about particular topics.

Static help

Interactive help

  • The Teahouse - A place for new editors to introduce themselves, asks questions, and find support from other editors
  • The Help desk - Where you can ask questions about how to use and edit Wikipedia
  • If you place {{Help me}} (including the curly brackets) "then your question" on your talk page, a volunteer will visit you there!

Immediate help

Button Icon Violet - CLICK HERE for live help.svg

Looking for immediate help? Click the big purple button on the right.

Enter your Wikipedia username, fill out the CAPTCHA, and click "Connect" to enter chat. Then explain what you need help with. There are usually experienced Wikipedians around who can try to help you.

Other problems

  • If you have conflicts with another editor that you don't want to post about publicly, try talking with your instructor or any experienced Wikipedians your class is working with.
  • For subject-specific questions related to your course, talk to your instructor(s), teaching assistants, and classmates.

Analyzing your contributions

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Welcome to Wikipedia

We are ecstatic that you're here!!

If you are part of a course that involves contributing to Wikipedia, you've come to the right place. This orientation will help you and your fellow students learn to contribute effectively.

To begin, press the forward arrow below to go on to the next page.

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About this Orientation…

The program has been divided into three key modules, each sharing a piece of the Wikipedia experience:

1 Core: This module discusses the core policies and guidelines that govern content development on Wikipedia.

2 Editing: Here we'll share with you the technical skills needed to edit Wikipedia. Since editing on Wikipedia does not happen in a vacuum you will also be introduced to the Wikipedia Community.

3 Advanced: This module goes into a little bit more detail on some specific editing topics that are relevant to students editing Wikipedia for class, including advice on picking a good topic.

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Navigating this orientation

Let's talk briefly about how this orientation works.

Menu Tab
Click on "Menu" at the top of the page and you will be taken to a new page where you can select another module. You can click "back" on your browser to return to where you were in the training.

Forward and Backward
The arrows at the bottom of the page will allow you to move forward and backward through the current module and will take you to the next module in the sequence.

Links
In order to reduce the possibility of you having to go back and forth from the orientation, we have purposely limited the number of links that you may encounter. Most of the links will be found under the Resources tab.

NOTE: If you click on a link you will be taken away from the orientation. If possible, open all links in new browser tabs so you can return here. Otherwise, you will need to use the back button on your web browser.

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Let's begin…

We hope the material found in this orientation will provide you with practical information to help you get started on Wikipedia. We also hope that this will help you find your own place in the Wikipedia community. This is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and the way it gets better is from people like you editing to improve it.

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Wikipedia Training: Module 1 complete!

Module 1: Welcome and Introductions

Module 2: The core of Wikipedia

Module 3: Editing Basics

Module 4: Advanced Editing

Click on the forward arrow to go on to learn about the Core Policies of Wikipedia.


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An introduction to Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines

This module is intended to provide an overview of Wikipedia’s core policies and guidelines. You'll get to know a little about the basic rules for how Wikipedia works.

By the end of this section, you should be able to answer:

  • What are Wikipedia's core policies and guidelines?
  • How are copyright and plagiarism handled on Wikipedia?

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An introduction to Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines

Although anyone can edit Wikipedia, article development is Template:WP:Training/Green highlight a chaotic, random process.

Wikipedia has many guiding principles as well as a governance structure that shape the content development process.

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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars

These five guiding principles are key to how Wikipedia works.

Wikipedia's Five Pillars:

  1. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia
  2. Wikipedia has a neutral point of view
  3. Wikipedia is free content
  4. Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner
  5. Wikipedia does not have firm rules

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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars: Number 1

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia.
It incorporates elements of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazettees.

  • Wikipedia is NOT a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  • Wikipedia is NOT a dictionary, a newspaper, a book or instruction manual, or a collection of source documents. However, note that there are Wikimedia sister projects that serve all of the above purposes (namely wiktionary, wikinews, wikibooks, and wikisource, respectively).


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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars: Number 2

Wikipedia has a neutral point of view.

  • Strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view in a balanced and impartial manner.
  • Avoid advocacy. Characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  • In some areas there may be just one well-recognized point of view; in other areas we describe multiple points of view, presenting each accurately and in context, and NOT presenting any point of view as "the truth" or "the best view".

Please note: All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy. That means citing verifiable, authoritative sources, especially on controversial topics and when the subject is a living person. Unreferenced material can be removed. Articles should not feature editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions.

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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars: Number 3

Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute.

  • Respect copyright laws, and do not plagiarize sources. Non-free content is allowed under fair use, but strive to find free alternatives to any media or content that you wish to add to Wikipedia.
  • Since all your contributions are freely licensed to the public, no editor owns any article; all of your contributions can and will be mercilessly edited and redistributed.


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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars: Number 4

Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner.

  • Respect and be polite to your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree.
  • Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and avoid personal attacks. Find consensus, avoid edit wars, and remember that there are about four million articles on the English Wikipedia to work on and discuss.
  • Act in good faith, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point.
  • Be open and welcoming, and assume good faith on the part of others.
  • When conflict arises, discuss details on the talk page, and if needed, follow the dispute resolution process.


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Wikipedia’s Five Pillars: Number 5

Wikipedia does not have firm rules.

  • Rules in Wikipedia are not carved in stone, as their wording and interpretation are likely to change over time.
  • The principles and spirit of Wikipedia's rules matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception to a rule.
  • Be bold (but not reckless) in updating articles and do not worry about making mistakes. Prior versions of pages are saved, so any mistakes can be corrected.


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Beyond the Five Pillars…

Beyond the five pillars, there are a few more important guidelines to keep in mind. First:

Verifiability

Since Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, for content to remain in Wikipedia it must be verifiable, which means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that information comes from a reliable source.

This video explains the importance of "Neutral Point of View" and "Verifiability" and how they work on Wikipedia.


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Beyond the Five Pillars…

Notability

Is the subject of the article you want to work on notable enough for an encyclopedia? This guideline helps to clarify the notability question. In some cases, you may need to justify to other Wikipedians why the article topic is notable and should remain in Wikipedia. Coverage in reliable sources independent of the subject is the key to notability.

Hundreds and hundreds of pages are added to Wikipedia every day. Volunteer Wikipedia editors work hard to review each of these pages to determine whether they are appropriate for an encyclopedia. Notability is one of the key criteria for their decisions.

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Beyond the Five Pillars…

Notability

The basic requirement for a topic to have its own article is: significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.

  • significant coverage means that sources address the subject directly in detail, so 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.
  • reliable sources, for the sake of establishing notability, generally means at least two independent secondary sources from reputable publishers. (These need not necessarily be in English or available online.) Multiple sources from the same author or organization are considered a single source for establishing notability.
  • independent of the subject excludes works produced by those affiliated with the subject or its creator. For example, self-publicity, advertising, self-published material by the subject, the subject's website, autobiographies, and press releases are not considered independent.

Verifiable information on topics that do not meet the notability guideline may still be included within articles on broader topics.

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Beyond the Five Pillars…

No original research

Wikipedia is a tertiary source of information—based on a collection of secondary sources writing about a primary source. Simply put, Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research, but rather is a summary of what has been written in reliable sources about the original topic or research.

Typical college papers require students to do original research, have a point of view and argue it. However, Wikipedia is a tertiary source—a summary of secondary information about a given topic.

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Copyright and plagiarism

Wikipedia is a live publishing platform. As such copyright and plagiarism issues are taken very seriously by the English Wikipedia community.

Except for brief quotations, copying content from copyrighted sources onto Wikipedia is against policy. Whether direct copying or close paraphrasing, plagiarism and copyright violation are disruptive and time-consuming for volunteers to clean up. It can also result in real life implications for those involved such as academic demotion or expulsion at some Universities.


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Copyright and plagiarism


"If I copy only a
couple of paragraphs
from a book, is that ok?"






"You may be violating copyright laws as well as Wikipedia copyright guidelines."







"Also, if you add these paragraphs, a fellow contributor will need to come along and remove this content."







"Even if you're working in your sandbox, please don't do it. Copyright and plagiarism policies apply to everything on Wikipedia—including sandboxes."


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Want to know more about Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines?

Check out [[ WP:POLICY ]].

In the next module you’ll learn how to edit Wikipedia.

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Wikipedia Training: Module 2 complete!

Module 1: Welcome and Introductions

Module 2: The Core of Wikipedia

Module 3: Editing Basics

Module 4: Advanced Editing

Click on the forward arrow to go on to learn about Editing Wikipedia.


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With a traditional assignment, your only audience is often your professor, or at most your professor and your classmates. I really liked the fact that this assignment gave me an opportunity to write for a broader audience and make a valuable contribution to a resource that I often use myself.

Joseph Lapka, San Francisco State University

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Editing Wikipedia

This module focuses on the basic editing skills necessary to successfully contribute to Wikipedia and collaborate with other editors.

By the end of this section, you should be able to answer:

  • What basic editing skills do I need to know to contribute to Wikipedia?
  • What is important to know about the site (anatomy)?
  • Where can I practice editing?
  • What role does the Wikipedia community have in editing content?

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Getting started

The best way to learn how to edit Wikipedia is just to jump in and get started.

If your class has a major Wikipedia component, the instructor may have set aside time in class for a hands-on introduction to wiki mark-up. Alternatively, you can open Wikipedia in another browser window and follow along with the example exercises as you continue this orientation.

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Getting started: Basic tasks

Some of the typical editing and formatting tasks you can try out to begin with are:

  • Bolding and italicizing text
  • Creating headers
  • Editing subsections
  • Creating bulleted and numbered lists
  • Creating links
  • Creating references
  • Starting a sandbox page

You should also familiarize yourself with:

  • The distinctions among article pages, talk pages and user pages
  • The use of talk pages

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Getting started: Creating an account

If you haven't done so already, it's time to create your Wikipedia user account. If editing basics are being covered in class, be sure to create your account ahead of time. Each individual student editor must have their own account.

  • Take a moment to look at Wikipedia's username policy and consider how anonymous you would like to be on Wikipedia. You need not use your real name, although many Wikipedians choose to do so.
  • When you've chosen a username, click "Create account" at the top right and follow the instructions.
  • Adding an email address to your account is strongly recommended; this allows you to send and receive emails with other editors. (Your email address is not revealed when other users contact you.) You can also receive email notifications whenever pages you are interested in get changed, if you wish. And if you forget your Wikipedia password, you can have it emailed to you — but only if you add your email address to your account!

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Working in a sandbox

A user sandbox is a personal wiki page(s) where you can experiment, practice editing, plan out articles, or begin drafting articles before moving them into the article "mainspace” on Wikipedia—where live articles are read and edited.

To go to your default sandbox page, simply click the Sandbox link, which can be found at the top right whenever you are logged in.

Would you like to try an interactive editing tutorial in a sandbox?

(This is a new feature for the training, so you may find bugs. If something goes wrong and you cannot continue, you can return to this page to resume the training using the forward link below.)

Try the interactive editing tutorial.

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Congratulations on creating a sandbox!

Later on, you can use that sandbox (or a new one — you can create as many as you need) to work on content for Wikipedia.

If you leave the template code at the top, {{User sandbox}}, you can use the link in that template to easily submit your sandbox work to be moved into Wikipedia as a new article.

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Text editing: '''boldness''' and [[links]]

Now it's time to get started editing! You can navigate to your own sandbox page in another browser window to try it out for yourself.



The wiki code for bold text is like this:

'''bold''' = bold

Creating a wikilink to another article looks like this:

[[bold]] = bold

That link to the article bold will redirect you to Emphasis (typography). To link to an article with a different name than the text, used a piped link, like this:

[[boldness|bold]] = bold (with the link to boldness)


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Citing your sources

This how to create citations manually on Wikipedia in order to cite appropriate sources.

Any editor can challenge unreferenced material by adding a {{fact}} tag which adds the famous [citation needed] tag. Editors are encouraged to remove unreferenced contentious material on sight. Wikipedia no longer accepts new articles on living people unless they are referenced, and other unsubstantiated articles often end up getting deleted. So when you add information to an article, be sure to include your references, preferably in the form of inline citations. Citations allow other editors and readers to verify the information.

Adding an inline reference is easy:

  1. Check that the bottom of the page has a References Section. If not, type: ==References==
  2. Check that the references section either has the text {{reflist}} or <references /> . If not, type: {{reflist}}. This determines where your references will appear on the page.
  3. Now click after the text you would like to create a reference for.
  4. Now type in <ref> tag before your reference and type </ref> after your reference. Wiki software will automatically add your inline reference number.

You can also use the Cite gadget, described on the next page, to insert the <ref> tags and citation details.


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Citing your sources

This video demonstrates the use of the "Cite" gadget in the edit toolbar.

You can also use the Cite gadget in the editing toolbar to automatically create the wikicode for citations.

  1. Click Cite in the toolbar at the top of the edit window.
  2. Position the cursor where you want to add a citation.
  3. Click the Templates pulldown, then selection the type of source: general webpage, news article, book, or journal article.
  4. Fill out the details of the source.
  5. Click Insert.

If you enter a Ref name, you can reuse the same citation elsewhere in the article without needing to re-enter the details. Click Named references to re-use a citation that includes a Ref name.


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How are talk pages used?

Watch this video if you'd like an overview of how to use talk pages.

Every page on Wikipedia has a talk page associated with it. This includes articles, user pages, and even sandbox pages. Click on the "Talk" tab in the upper left corner of any page to access the talk page.

A lot of discussion takes place on user talk pages and article talk pages. Wikipedians will want you to respond to messages left in these locations, and you can use them to leave messages for others.

You can leave an indented reply to someone else's message by beginning a line with one or more colons. Be sure to sign your messages with four tildes (~~~~) to mark it with your username and a timestamp.

:Leave an indented reply like this.--~~~~


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How to use a sandbox for existing articles

For revising an existing article, consider drafting the first significant edits (e.g., a new or heavily revised section) in a sandbox. This is more effective than fully rewriting an existing article in a sandbox, then replacing the article all at once, which may antagonize other editors.

If you use a sandbox, you should place a notice on the talk page of the article with a link to the sandbox. This allows interested editors to post suggestions to the talk page before work starts. Once you are happy with the draft you can place another notice on the talk page of the article with a link to the sandbox, asking for comments before editing the article itself.

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How to use a sandbox for stub articles

For expanding a short article that doesn't provide encyclopedic coverage (known as a stub), beginning from a sandbox can be helpful. Here you can write and rewrite before going "live."

Small articles that are expanded by a factor of five within a short period (and are well-referenced) are also eligible as "Did You Know" entries; working in a sandbox until reaching that threshold may be a good idea.

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How to use a sandbox for new articles

For starting a new article, you may first want to draft the article in a user sandbox named after the topic, such as

User:Stan Lee/Project X,

just as you would when expanding an existing article. When you are ready to make it live on Wikipedia, consider submitting it to the Articles for Creation process first so that experienced editors can check it over. In general, the sooner you move out of a sandbox, the better.

(Articles for Creation often has a considerable backlog, so you should not wait around for a submission to be reviewed. If your submission has not been reviewed, go ahead and create your article once you're sure it meets the basic requirements for a Wikipedia article.)

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My watchlist and how to use it

A personal watchlist is an easy way to keep track of all the pages to which you are contributing. You can use your watchlist to monitor article changes, conversations and editor collaboration.

You can also set your email preferences to receive email whenever pages on your watchlist are changed.

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My watchlist and how to use it

By default, your watchlist will show only the most recent change to a page you are watching. You can change your watchlist preferences to show all changes, not just the most recent; this can helpful if you're collaborating intensely on just one or a few pages.

You can watch this video if you'd like a more detailed overview of the basics of creating and using watchlists.


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The Wikipedia Community


English Wikipedia has about 30,000 active editors (as of 2013). We range from niche editors who build articles in a particular subject area, to "WikiGnomes" who work quietly formatting pages and tying up loose ends, to vandal fighters who monitor recent changes and revert bad edits, to reviewers who help run Wikipedia's peer review processes, to administrators who clean up messes and block disruptive editors, to policy wonks who analyze how Wikipedia works and discuss ways to improve it—and many more roles.

What we have in common is that we care—often very deeply—about Wikipedia. Although we come from different perspectives (and often disagree!) we're all here to try to make Wikipedia better.


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Decision-making by consensus

Consensus is the main way decisions are made on Wikipedia, both in terms of article content and how Wikipedia itself is run. Wikipedia's concept of consensus doesn't necessarily mean that everyone agrees, but it involves an effort to incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns, while respecting Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.

When disagreements occur, we resolve them through discussion—usually on the relevant Talk page. Since Wikipedia articles should be written from a neutral point of view—fairly describing significant viewpoints on a subject without endorsing any of them—it is almost always possible to reach consensus about article content, even if editors themselves have fundamentally different points of view on the subject.

The ideal Wikipedia article on a controversial topic is one where partisans on both sides would read it and say, "my viewpoint is described accurately".

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The Bold, Revert, Discuss cycle

The Bold, Revert, Discuss cycle is one good way to think about the consensus editing process.

1 Be Bold: If you think you can make an article better, but you aren't sure whether others will disagree with the changes you want to make, you should start by boldly editing as you think best.

2 Revert: If your edit gets reverted by another editor, that's okay! You've now identified an editor with a different view about the article. Check the edit summaries and the Talk page to see why the other editor reverted your edit. (Do not simply make your edit again; that's the beginning of an edit war.)

3 Discuss: Start a discussion on the Talk page (if the other editor has not done so already). Explain how you think the article should be improved, and why. Work with the other editor(s) to develop consensus. When you've found some agreement, start making edits again.

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Tips for effective discussion

For productive discussions, remember to:

  • Use descriptive edit summaries to explain what you are doing with each edit. That way, others will be able to follow the action when they click on the "View history" tab.
  • Assume good faith: Assume other editors are trying to improve the project.
  • Read all the messages people leave on the talk pages of articles you are editing.
  • Be polite, and discuss article content rather than editors. Do not make personal attacks.
  • Always sign your posts on talk pages using four tildes so that others can follow who is saying what. Put ~~~~ at the end of your message (not in the edit summary box).
  • When you intend comments for a specific editor, leave a message on their User Talk page (with a link to the comments, if the discussion is happening on a different page). That way, they'll get a notification about your message.

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Where to get help

Now you have a basic overview of how to contribute to Wikipedia. But there is a lot more you'll learn along the way as you get started. You can find a variety of written help materials and additional videos in the Resources tab of this training.

If you need help, here are some places you can go:

Static help
  • Help:Contents is the main help page that will guide you in the right direction. The help page may be reached at any time by clicking help displayed under the Interaction tab on the left side of all pages.
  • Help:Contents/Directory is a descriptive listing of all Wikipedia's informative, instructional and consultation pages.
  • Wikipedia: The Missing Manual is a converted book that covers most subjects, split into 21 chapters.

You may wish to bookmark or print out a copy of the editing cheatsheet for a quick reference on wiki syntax.

Interactive help
  • The Teahouse, a place for new editors to introduce themselves, asks questions, and find support from other editors
  • The Help desk, where you can ask questions about how to use and edit Wikipedia
  • If you place {{Help me}} (including the curly brackets) then your question on your talk page, a volunteer will visit you there!
  • The help channel for live chat help from other Wikipedians

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Wikipedia Training: Module 3 complete!

Module 1: Welcome and Introductions

Module 2: The core of Wikipedia

Module 3: Editing Basics

Module 4: Advanced Editing

Click on the forward arrow to continue on to the last module.


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Editing articles: advanced topics

This module goes into more detail on some of the trickier aspects of writing for Wikipedia and some common pitfalls for students doing Wikipedia assignments

By the end of this section, you should be able to answer:

  • How do I choose the right article to work on?
  • What is expected from a good Wikipedia article?
  • How can I get an article on Wikipedia's Main Page?
  • How can I get feedback on my article?

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Choosing articles

Choosing the right first article to work on—and finding the right title for it, if it's a new article—can make a big difference.

Here are a few guidelines for the kinds of articles that may be appropriate to start out on, and what kinds of articles to avoid. These guidelines were created based on feedback and experiences of professors, students and Wikipedians.

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Choosing articles

Not such a good choice
Articles that are "not such a good choice" for newcomers usually involve factors such as a lack of appropriate research material, highly controversial topics that may be well developed already, broad subjects or topics for which it is difficult to demonstrate notability.

  • You probably shouldn't try to completely overhaul articles on very broad topics (e.g., Law).
  • You should probably avoid trying to improve articles on topics that are highly controversial (e.g., Global Warming, Abortion, Scientology, etc.). You may be more successful starting a sub-article on the topic instead.
  • Don't work on an article that is already of high quality on Wikipedia, unless you discuss a specific plan for improving it with other editors beforehand.
  • Avoid working on something only sparsely covered by literature. Wikipedia articles cite secondary literature sources, so it is important that you have enough sources to provide a neutral point of view and be verifiable.
  • Don't start articles with titles that imply an essay-like approach (e.g., The Effects That The Recent Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis has had on the US and Global Economics). These type of titles, and most likely the content too, may not be appropriate for an encyclopedia.

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Choosing articles

Good choice

  • Choose a topic that is well established in its field, but only weakly represented on Wikipedia. The best choice is a topic for which a lot of literature is available but which isn't covered extensively on Wikipedia.
  • Gravitate toward "stub" and "start" class articles. These articles often have only 1-2 paragraphs of information and are in need of expansion. Relevant WikiProject pages can provide a list of stubs that need improvement.
  • Before creating a new article, do an in-depth search of related topics on Wikipedia to make sure your topic isn't already covered. Often, an article may already exist under another name, or the topic may be covered as a subsection of a broader article.

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Help with choosing articles

If you would like some guidance choosing a good topic to work on, here some options:

  • Ask your instructor, who may have compiled a list of potential topics and may know which topics have appropriate sources available.
  • Post a question at the Help Desk or the Teahouse. The more specific you can be about what you're interested in writing about and what potential topics you're looking at, the better. You'll have to check back later to the page where you post your question to see what suggestions people have for you.


Here are some ways to browse for articles to work on:

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The "Did you know" process

Getting your new article to appear on the Main Page of Wikipedia as a "Did you know" entry is a great first goal, as soon as you move out of a sandbox. To be eligible, an article must:

  • conform to Wikipedia's core policies regarding verifiability, neutral point of view, and copyright;
  • have been created (or expanded five-fold) within the last five days;
  • be about 3 or 4 paragraphs long, at the least;
  • be supported with citations to reliable sources.

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The "Did you know" process

You can read more about the Did You Know process in general, or check out the step-by-step instructions if you think you'd like to try it.

Be sure you understand the requirements and conventions of the "Did you know" process before submitting your article. Your instructor or any experienced editors working with your class may be able to help; for large classes, it's often best to spread out nominations over a few days or even a few weeks, to avoid overburdening the review process.

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The perfect article

The checklist for a perfect article starts out simply enough:

  • Fills a gap
  • Has a great title
  • Starts with a clear description of the subject

...

But it's a long list. And the last thing on it is...

...

  • Is not attainable.

So don't worry about making your article perfect. Take it one step at a time.

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From stub to Featured article

Wikipedia articles usually start humbly, developing and improving gradually over time — even when they are largely written by just one or a few contributors.

Typically, you start by making a stub, just a paragraph or two that serves to identify the topic, with enough sourcing to assure readers that it ought to have its own article. As you expand the article — perhaps nominating it for DYK along the way — you divide it into sections on different aspects of the topic. Once the article is relatively comprehensive — at least touching on the major aspects of the topic — should get some advice from others. After incorporating that feedback, if you think it meets the Good article criteria, you nominate it for Good article status, working with the reviewer(s) to fix any major shortcomings. After more polish and more research to cover every significant aspect of the topic, you can attempt the Featured article process. If, by the end, article meets the more stringent Featured article criteria, then the article will be eligible to have its day on Wikipedia's Main Page, where it draws the attention of tens of thousands of readers.

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Article grading scheme

Wikipedia has a grading scheme for articles, which can useful for figuring out how to improve your article. These are the basic quality levels.

FA The article meets the featured article criteria and has gone through the FA candidates process.
GA The article meets the good article criteria and has gone through a successful good article nomination.
B The article is mostly complete and without major issues, but requires some further work to reach good article standards.
C The article is substantial, but is still missing important content or contains a lot of irrelevant material.
Start An article that is developing, but which is quite incomplete and may require further reliable sources.
Stub A very basic description of the topic.

You can check out the full grading scheme for more detail about these quality assessments.

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Adding images and other media

Most articles on Wikipedia can benefit from an appropriate illustration. To find an image (or a video or sound file), try browsing related Wikipedia articles as well as doing some searches on Wikimedia Commons. If you have an original image you created, you can upload that to Wikimedia Commons and then add it to Wikipedia articles.

The basic code for adding an image to a Wikipedia article is like this:
[[File:Example.jpg | thumb | This is the caption. ]]

This video walks through the process of uploading a photo and adding it to an article. For more advanced image syntax, check out the picture tutorial.

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Barnstars and other WikiLove

If you want to recognize another editor for doing good work, or you want to say "thank you" for their help, or you just want to be friendly, you can share WikiLove with another editor. Just go to the person's userpage and click the heart icon to bring up the WikiLove tool. You can select what kind of award to give them, add a personal message, and automatically add it to their talk page.

This video gives a little bit of background on barnstars, the traditional symbol of appreciation for good work on Wikipedia, and shows how to award them with WikiLove.

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Specialized help pages

There is much more help material available on Wikipedia, much of it specialized for very specific types of articles or specific editing tasks. Here are a few help pages that are particularly relevant to students working on Wikipedia:

  • How to edit medical topics — Medical topics have particularly stringent rules for the proper use of sources, so if you're going to work on medicine-related articles (including psychology), this is a helpful primer.
  • Citing books — If you're working primarily from books as your sources, citing different pages at different points in the article, this guide shows how you can format the citations.
  • Module 5: Background — If you want to learn more about Wikipedia and its history, you can check out the optional fifth module of this orientation.

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You've completed Wikipedia orientation. Congratulations!

Please take a moment to certify that you completed the orientation and let us know what you thought about it. Click the "Certification and Feedback" button below.

Be sure that you are signed in to your Wikipedia account first. If not, log in now. Otherwise, there will be no record that you completed the training.



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What I liked

...

What I didn't like

...

What was missing

...

What was unnecessary

...

If you tried the interactive editing tutorial, what did you think of it?

...

--~~~~

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How a ragtag band created Wikipedia

EnwikipediaGom.PNG

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Why Wikipedians are Weird

Steven Walling Wikipedia mascots - Ignite Portland 8 - Portland Oregon.jpg

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