Help:Five pillars

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Many thousands of editors volunteer their time, viewpoints and creativity with the intention of creating the most accurate and complete encyclopedia possible.

There are no strict rules and no real hierarchy of power, but somewhere out of this potential chaos some order has been established, setting the bare minimum of behaviors to create Wikipedia. The community's basic policies and guidelines are summarized below.

The five pillars[edit]

The fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates are summarized in the form of five "pillars":

Blue pillar (1: Encyclopedia)
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia.
It incorporates elements of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers. 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. It is not a dictionary, a newspaper, or a collection of source documents; that kind of content should be contributed instead to the Wikimedia sister projects.
Green pillar (2: NPOV)
Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.
We strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view in a balanced and impartial manner. 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 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". All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy: unreferenced material may be removed, so please provide references. Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong here. That means citing verifiable, authoritative sources, especially on controversial topics and when the subject is a living person.
Yellow pillar (3: Free)
Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute.
Respect copyright laws, and do not plagiarize your 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.
Orange pillar (4: Code of conduct and etiquette)
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 8,370 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 follow dispute resolution.
Red pillar (5: Ignore all rules)
Wikipedia does not have firm rules.
Rules in Wikipedia are not carved in stone, and 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 are saved, so any mistakes can be repaired.


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