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As someone professionally affiliated with an institution in the cultural sector (such as a museum, library, archive, public art gallery or similar) you are a custodian of our cultural heritage, which places you in a unique position to improve Wikipedia. Our goal is to provide access to knowledge freely (gratis and libre), and your expertise and institution's collection are welcome and necessary if we are to achieve that goal.
Why should I contribute to Wikimedia?
The Wikipedia community wants greater participation from the cultural sector and understands that our way of doing things is not what you are used to. Please be understanding if you feel you are not being treated the way you would be by your peers – we are all volunteers of greatly differing ages, levels of expertise and cultural background, working to provide free access to knowledge.
Here are some suggestions for things you could do:
How can I contribute to Wikimedia?
How do I create or improve articles in my area?
Sharing photos from your institution
Principles of editing
Build the encyclopedia
Your contributions should be aimed at improving Wikipedia independently of your professional affiliation. Do not add material to an article which promotes your institution but which does not help a reader of Wikipedia better understand the topic.
If you contribute an external link to your institution's catalogue website, it should link directly to the relevant information and it should be unique information. Only link to your institution if the link gives readers critical information uniquely relevant to the topic. Don't link to generic pages or pages that require logging in. Don't link to the same page of your website from multiple Wikipedia pages.
Do not post "all rights reserved" material
Posting of copyrighted material (i.e. material not under an open licence, or whose copyright has not expired through age) is a violation of Wikipedia's policies; any copyrighted material will be removed as soon as it is detected. In particular, text already published on your institution's website may be copyrighted there; if so, it can't be posted verbatim. Text can usually be rewritten and summarized so as to not violate copyright (remember that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, which aims to produce overview articles, not to capture every bit of human knowledge.)
Edit as yourself
Register for a username (it can be a pseudonym) and write a message on your user page describing your position, institution and area of expertise. The user account should be yours alone (not shared) and should not be named after your institution. Editors must use individual accounts, because the primary role of all Wikipedia editors should be to develop the encyclopedia, not to represent an institution.
Ignore all rules when needed
If you find that a rule prevents you from making a better encyclopedia, ignore it. This strategy should only be used rarely, if at all. However it is a fundamental principle that Wikipedia is not like a traditional publication and, in order to accommodate exceptions, Wikipedia's practices are just as fluid as its content. In the end, the proof of the quality of a contribution is the contribution itself, although you should be prepared to fully explain why your changes are helpful, and why it was necessary to ignore all rules.
Irrespective of which other method of communication you choose below, it is a good idea to mention it on this page's discussion page (here) too.
Your first port of call to contact someone involved in Wikipedia is to leave a message at the discussion page (talk page) associated with the page you are interested in, or the talk page of a relevant WikiProject such as:
There are a great number of WikiProjects, some more active than others, which may be relevant for more specialized areas, such as WP:WikiProject Military history, WP:WikiProject Ancient Egypt, WP:WikiProject Textile Arts, WP:WikiProject Public art and a host of geographically based ones. There is a full directory here, though it may be easier to see which projects have placed a banner on the talk pages of relevant articles.
You can also leave a message at the discussion page for this page, or at the discussion page for any of the relevant policies you may wish to discuss.
If you are a new editor and want help with your own personal editing, Wikipedia has a supportive place to help new users: Teahouse.
You can write by email using the contact Wikipedia button in the left hand column under the subheading "interaction".
If applicable, you can contact your local Wikimedia Chapter.
Guidebooks and references
Two excellent guidebooks written by experienced Wikipedia editors are:
Wikipedia has lots of policies and guidelines. That's not surprising, given how broad our scope is, but we understand how hard it is to get started.
Please be aware that far and away the main concern raised by Wikipedians in creating this advice page was a fear of spam – that is, the repeated insertion of large numbers of links to your institution's website. Please do not, as has been suggested, "go crazy". Try to contribute to Wikipedia first by improving articles rather than starting by adding lots of links.
As you can imagine, people constantly try to use Wikipedia to promote their organisation. Removing such advertising takes a lot of time, especially when people try to "game the system" by doing what is called Wikilawyering. However, we recognise that cultural institutions are qualitatively different because of similar goals: the preservation and publication of knowledge. That's why specific policy exceptions have been put in place to encourage you to edit articles relevant to your institution.
Here's a quick way to see whether you've gotten a good sense of what content Wikipedia wants: After a half-dozen or so edits, and a day or two, review the articles you've edited. See whether other users have changed what you did, or responded to your edits by posting on the article talk/discussion page.
Wikipedia strongly prefers content which is supported by one or more relevant references (citations). Where your institution has publications (whether these are online or not) which supports text in articles, you can definitely help by adding references (footnotes) for existing content and for any new content you add. Ideally, you should add references to the most authoritative sources, whether they are published by your organisation or by others. References are not considered spam unless they are marginally related (or not related at all) to the text that they are supposed to support.
Wikipedia has a number of different citation systems. You do not need to understand these to add a reference. To start you can just add the reference in brackets at the relevant place and leave it to some Wikignome to put it in the correct style. Or you can copy an existing footnote/reference and just modify it. Later, when you know our system better, you can help by improving the other footnotes/references in articles, ones that you didn't add. .
If you have material which provides additional information which cannot be included in the article then the addition of a link under the Further reading or External links sections should be considered. We aim to include only the most useful links on the entire web under these headings and your expertise should be very useful in finding these. Please do not just add links to your own institution unless you think librarians, curators etc. at other institutions would agree that your link meets this standard. Feel free to delete existing links which you feel do not meet this standard (though it is considered polite to add a note explaining why on the Talk page for that article, if you do delete something that others might see as valuable (see the tab at the top of each article page for the link to its Talk page).
You might also be particularly interested in the WikiProject Visual arts Art Manual of Style.
Our general policies can be accessed by clicking "show" in this box: