On The Five Pillars of Editing Wikipedia Articles

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Editing for Wikipedia can be very satisfying and rewarding. It can also be frustrating. Wikipedia’s sheer size can make it seem intimidating to a new arrival. Fortunately, Wikipedia does come with a few guidelines for the novice.

Wikipedia editors and writers are expected to know and follow five broad principles or “pillars”: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, 2) Wikipedians should have a neutral point of view, 3) Wikipedia articles are free content and can be used, edited, or shared by anybody, 4) Editors should show each other respect and courtesy, and 5) Wikipedia doesn’t have hard and fast rules.

So what do those pillars mean? The first two pillars are related: Editors need to stick to verifiable facts. Wikipedia is not the place for editorials, opinion pieces, or advertisements. Articles need to come with reliable and authoritative sources. Books and newspapers are generally counted as reliable sources, while people’s blogs are not. The same rule applies to edits that add information: You need to include proof that said information is correct. One way to add a helpful edit to an article would be to simply add a new source to it. By the same token, an editor ought to remove items that are spam, biased, or not supported by a source.

The third pillar urges writers and editors to not be too possessive of their work. It also comes with an important caveat: Obey copyright laws when writing or editing. Don’t copy other people’s work. Don’t add images you don’t have a right to. Wikimedia Commons is a good source for free images, and will helpfully label something as being in the public domain. It will also inform you of any restrictions associated with a given picture. If you add a quote to an article, include the source.

The fourth pillar simply asks you that abide by what has sometimes been called “netiquette.” If somebody edits your edit, don’t re-edit that edit. Doing so can result in an “edit war,” which wastes people’s time and annoys other Wikipedians. “Edit wars” are a reason why some articles on Wikipedia have been locked. Similarly, don’t troll people by deliberately adding something offensive or inflammatory to an article.

The fifth pillar is simply a reminder that Wikipedia’s guidelines and policies can change over time. It’s also a reminder that changes are saved, and mistakes in editing can be easily fixed.

More information on how to make a Wikipedia article can be found on GetYourWiki.com