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Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Guide

This guide provides tips for participants in Wikipedia Edit-a-thons

Before You Start

This guide provides instructions, guidelines and tips for first time editors of Wikipedia. Before you get started, review these basic concepts about Wikipedia. They will help orient you to the resource and help you contribute effectively.

The Five Pillars of Wikipedia

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but because it is a highly collaborative platform, it is very important that all editors follow the five key principles, or pillars, of Wikipedia:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: That is, it is not an advertising platform, a personal website, or a collection of random data. It's an encyclopedia, a place to go to find a summary of what is already known about a topic.
  2. Wikipedia has a neutral point of view: As loaded as that term is, your content must be written from a neutral point of view.  This means representing significant views fairly, proportionately, and without bias. Do not:
    • Debate or attempt to persuade readers
    • Share personal experiences or opinions
    • Share your own analysis of the information you find
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute: When you contribute information to Wikipedia, you need to make sure it's OK to share freely. As you would for any academic assignment, you need to ensure that you are avoiding plagiarism and copyright violation. You need to rephrase content in your own words, and then cite the original source.
  4. Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner: It is common to have others edit your work or even remove your contributions. This is part of the Wikipedia process. Every article has a Talk page where you can interact with other editors who are working on your article. In addition, all edits to a page are always saved and can be found. If you disagree with how someone has edited your page, don't just "change it back." That's an edit war, and it can get you blocked. Read more about Wikipedia's values around editing etiquette.
  5. Wikipedia does not have firm rules: The wording or interpretation of rules in Wikipedia is likely to change over time. Mistakes can be edited, prior versions are saved, and communicating with other editors is important.

This content is adapted from Wiki Education Dashboard by Wiki Education, licensed under CC-BY-SA.


Wikipedia's Core Content Policies

Siankevans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


When creating content, keep Wikipedia's guidelines in mind:

  • Stay "neutral": Do not promote one particular point of view over another, avoid stating opinions or seriously contested assertions as facts, avoid stating facts as opinions, use non-judgemental language, and indicate the relative prominence of opposing views.
  • Maintain verifiability: All quotations and all content that could be perceived as controversial must be attributed to a reliable, published source. In Wikipedia, verifiability means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that information comes from a reliable source.
  • No original material: Wikipedia does not publish original research or thought. All material in Wikipedia must be linked to a reliable, published source. New analysis or synthesis of published material that advances a position not clearly verified by the sources is not recommended.
  • Avoid any conflicts of interest: Don't create or edit an article that relates to you, your workplace, or anything else that you're personally invested in.  It will likely be deleted.
  • Use reliable sources: If available, academic and peer reviewed publications are usually the sources considered most reliable by Wikipedia. Other reliable sources include university-level textbooks, books published by 'respected' publishing houses, magazines, journals, and mainstream newspapers.
  • Test notability: Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable or checkable. If no third party sources can be found on the topic, then most likely the article created on the topic will be deleted. 
  • Be aware of stubs: A stub is an article that, although providing some useful information, is too short to provide a full view of a subject. If a stub has very little verifiable information, or if is subject has no apparent notability, it may be deleted or be merged into another relevant article.

Important Wikipedia Concepts