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Wikipedia: Editing and Contributing

Learn the basics about editing and contributing to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Basics

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Fundamental Principles

"Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia, and the community constantly strives for accuracy. Articles should be neutral and should contain only verifiable information and opinions that already exist in reliable sources.

Neutral point-of-view (or NPOV) means that content is written objectively and without bias, merely presenting the facts and notable viewpoints of others. A general-purpose encyclopedia ought not contain articles that favor particular viewpoints. Striving for a neutral point-of-view helps prevent articles from becoming advertisements or propaganda.

Verifiability means that articles should contain only material that has been published by reliable sources, such as reputable newspapers and scholarly journals. All content should ideally be supported by a citation, but content that is controversial or likely to be challenged will definitely require one! Unsourced material may be removed at any time, and it is the obligation of the editor adding material to provide a reliable source.

No original research means that articles may not contain previously unpublished arguments, concepts, data, opinions, or theories. This prohibition means that Wikipedia editors' own analysis or synthesis should not be included in articles. Basically, Wikipedia is a record of human knowledge, viewpoints, and summaries that already exist and are expressed elsewhere."

--Information from Wikipedia

Five Pillars

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia

Wikipedia combines many features of general and specialized encyclopediasalmanacs, and gazetteersWikipedia 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. It is not a dictionary, a newspaper, or a collection of source documents, although some of its fellow Wikimedia projects are.

Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view

We strive for articles in an impartial tone that document and explain major points of view, giving due weight for their prominence. We avoid advocacy, and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them. In some areas there may be just one well-recognized point of view; in others, we describe multiple points of view, presenting each accurately and in context rather than as "the truth" or "the best view". All articles must strive for verifiable accuracyciting reliable, authoritative sources, especially when the topic is controversial or is about a living person. Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong on Wikipedia.

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

Since all editors freely license their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and may be mercilessly edited and redistributed. Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from any sources. Borrowing non-free media is sometimes allowed as fair use, but strive to find free alternatives first.

Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility

Respect your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and do not engage in personal attacks. Seek consensus, avoid edit wars, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. Act in good faith, and assume good faith on the part of others. Be open and welcoming to newcomers. Should conflicts arise, discuss them calmly on the appropriate talk pages, follow dispute resolution procedures, and consider that there are 6,472,821 other articles on the English Wikipedia to improve and discuss.

Wikipedia has no firm rules

Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. The principles and spirit matter more than literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making exceptionsBe bold, but not reckless, in updating articles. And do not agonize over making mistakes(almost) every past version of a page is saved, so mistakes can be easily corrected.