From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The world has learned that Wikipedia is a phenomenal resource. But very few become meaningful contributors, efficient editors, and capable members of the community. Those who do can seem like gods or aliens or worse. Here are their simple secrets.

Like any good magician, it's mostly just practice combined with the right assistance (tools of the trade) and clever tricks (smart shortcuts). You can easily copy what they do-- if not what they know--and at least have a chance at joining the ranks of the real Wikipedia editors. Of course, there's no elite here, and this page is--if anything--about leveling the playing field.

Keeping tabs[edit]

  • Watchlists - how do people keep track of everything happening here. They set their preferences to add any page they edit to their watchlist. Then they use their watchlist like a guard uses a watch-tower. Watchlists are why experienced users almost always reply to users wherever the conversation started. They're watching it!
  • Use the history. See what changed. Added or taken away.
  • Compare changes. Top bullet on the right, bottom bulllet on the left, compare changes. Share it with an [external link]
  • Know your noticeboard. Disputes that don't easily resolve at the talk page often wind up at a noticeboard. NPOVN is for bias; ORN is for original claims or synthesis; RSN is for sources; ANI is for anything really serious which needs administrator attention; CP is for copyright.
  • Read the talk page archives. Or better, search the archives.

Ins and outs[edit]

  • Link shortcuts [Article], [T:Article], [WP:Policy]. UT. Time saved.
  • Piping - Want your link to go somewhere but don't want to type the whole name? Use a pipe
  • External links [like link shortcuts but one bracket and no pipe]
  • Link to diffs. Go to the History.


  • Use the talk page. If there's a disagreement or a major change, at least leave a note that you did it.
  • Don't ask for permission. If you think it's an improvement, just add it, and if someone removes it then talk to them.
  • Don't worry about format. Just add it and someone will come along and clean it up. Then learn from them for next time.

Gadgets, tools, and sites[edit]

  • Popups - Wikipedia has tens of links on every page. If you follow them all, you go nuts. Luckily, Popups gives you a one paragraph pop-up of any link, just by hovering over it. In combination with your Watchlist, Popups is like being able to read the mind of every prisoner in the yard.
  • importScript('User:Magnus_Manske/less_edit_clutter.js'). Valuable cleanup for the edit page, less junk and separated templates/references
  • Reftools. Don't cite things with naked links. Add the details of where something came from with this tool.
  • Reflinks
  • Twinkle/Friendly - These tools add simple menus which let you leave other users welcome messages and tag articles with issues.
  • .js Scripts - Allow further customization of the interface, as do your prefs.
  • AWB - This is a real power-tool, but few need it. If you make 'hundreds' of similar repetitive edits, learn it.
  • Huggle/STiki/Lupins - Do you just want to keep the riffraff out? These tools let you monitor recent changes in a way that is practical and efficient.
  • importScript('User:Cacycle/wikEdDiff.js'); //better diffs
  • importScript("User:PleaseStand/hide-vector-sidebar.js"); // hides the sidebar gives you 20% more page
  • Preferences (size of editing window)

Getting articles and edits to stick[edit]

  • Refs <ref>reference here</ref>
  • Better refs: editing toolbar
  • Userspace/talkspace drafts.
  • Don't use bare links. Links die. Rather than put in the url, use a citation template which includes the author, date, and other permanent content.


  • NPOV - summarize content in each reliable source in proportion to how much attention it receives
  • V - find a reliable source for it; doesn't matter if it's true, only if sources say it is. talk about sources, not truths
  • RS - it should be published by someone/some organization with a reputation for being right and checking facts
  • OR - find it in a source, don't combine parts of a source or different sources to say something they don't individually say
  • Take sources seriously. You have to find a good source for your claim. There's a difference between Wikipedia including all knowledge and all knowledge that is encyclopedic in scope (no articles of your dog) and in reliability (doesn't matter that you read it on some random blog).
  • BLP - if it's about living people, it can't wait. negative info must be sourced or removed pronto. trivial info should be scrubbed. if they're alive, err on the side of caution. if they're alive and famous, you get 'a little' more latitude but sources are still definitely needed for anything controversial.

{{Navbox | name = Wikipedia policies and guidelines | state = collapsed | bodyclass = hlist | titlestyle = | title = Key Wikipedia policies and guidelines

| group1 = Overview | list1 =

| group2 = Project-wide principles | list2 =

| list3 =

| list4 =

| group5 = Content guidelines |

| group6 = Behavioural policies | list6 =

| list7 =

| group8 = Editing

| group9 = Style conventions | list9 =

| group10 = Classification guidelines | list10 =

|group11 = Wikimedia Foundation |list11 =

| belowstyle = font-weight: bold; | below =

  • [[Book:Key Wikipedia Policies & Guidelines

Increasing involvement[edit]

  • Get rollback and reviewer rights
  • User email
  • Put something on your talk page and userpage. Red links (meaning no content) are a signal that you haven't tried, don't know, or don't care. None is a good signal to send.
  • Join a project
  • Peer review
  • Read the signpost
  • Read the mailing lists
  • Use IRC
  • Join consensus discussions
  • Venture into controversial areas
  • Become a campus ambassador
  • Read old arbcom cases
  • Watchlist experienced editors.
  • Join a wiki meetup.
  • Got to a Wiki conference.
  • Work on the backlog
  • Vote in RfAs
  • Mediate, vote in polls, offer third opinions, offer comment when requested.

Perfect articles[edit]

  • Go through GA/FAR

Markup you'll need[edit]

  • Learn markup specifics
  • Read the MOS
  • Learn how to archive (just copy and paste and tweak)
  • Table basics
  • Template basics
  • Infoboxes

See also[edit]