About the help system
Wikipedia's static help pages are of varying complexity, from basic introductions to technical documents. This variety however has its flaws: it is easy to navigate to a page that regurgitates the same information, contains concepts that have not already been covered, is overly complicated for one's needs, or pages with a listing of links to other pages with listings of links. Information is also spread over a variety of namespace prefixes. The Wikipedia namespace (prefix Wikipedia:): contains many types of pages connected with the Wikipedia project itself: basic information (e.g., Wikipedia:General disclaimer), policies (e.g., Wikipedia:Editing policy), guidelines (e.g., Wikipedia:Manual of Style), essays (e.g., Wikipedia:Reasonability Rule), directories (e.g., Wikipedia:Quick directory). The Help namespace (prefix Help:): contains pages which provide help in using Wikipedia and its software, both for users of the encyclopedia and for editors (e.g., Help:Footnotes). However the Wikipedia namespace also contains many how to style pages that is some cases contains repeated information or more detailed information. For example Wikipedia:Media help and Help:Files are both help pages located in different prefixes covering some of the same information presented in differing levels of technical expertise. There are also pages that have completely different styles of presenting the same information (e.g., Help:Referencing for beginners and Help:Introduction to referencing). Aside from the static pages there are a multitude of interactive assistances pages see, Wikipedia:Requests for a listing of those.
How to use help
Where to start
If you would like to get a good overview of the whole project and how it works you could read through the introductory page which is found at Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia. The same basic information can be seen at the Wikipedia:Tutorial or in short form at Wikipedia:Training/Newcomers. There is also Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Adventure, a 7-mission interactive guided tour which covers all the basics about editing and the expectations and norms of the Wikipedia community. Help:Getting started contains a listing of introductions and tutorials on the various aspects of Wikipedia.
Searching help pages
If you type keywords of your question into the search box, a page relevant to your question will usually turn up in the search results, e.g. 'How do I create an article?' ( type in 'create an article' ), 'What size are thumbnails?' ( type in 'thumbnail size' ). The search needs to be limited to the help pages using the advanced search page (which appears after you have clicked 'search') or you can use the search box in Help:contents (accessed at any time by clicking Help displayed on the left side of all pages.). This is duplicated below.
- Help:Contents is the main help page that will guide you in the right direction.
- Frequently asked questions are listed by general topic at Wikipedia:FAQ (great place for fast info).
- Help:Contents/Browse is a menu-style page that will direct you to the right place to find information.
- Help:Contents/Directory is a descriptive listing of Wikipedia's informative, instructional and consultation pages.
- Wikipedia: The Missing Manual is a converted book that covers most subjects, split into 21 chapters.
- The portal to the right will direct you to the main "help contents" page.
- The Wikipedia Help pages book is a collection of Wikipedia's "How to pages" that can be easily saved, rendered electronically (such as PDF), and ordered as a printed book.
- The template below outlines Wikipedia's help pages and can be viewed at the bottom of related articles.
- You can ask for help on using Wikipedia at the help desk and teahouse.
- General information questions can be asked at the reference desk.
Contributing to the help pages
Like articles, most of the help pages can be edited - so feel free to improve any pages you come across. When a high traffic page has been protected to help prevent vandalism, suggestions can still be made on the talk page. Some coordination happens at Wikipedia:Help Project.