Wikipedia:List of policies

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Green check.png This page includes a summary of official policies on the English Wikipedia which are set out in detail elsewhere. Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered standards that all editors should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision is consistent with the underlying policies. When in doubt, discuss it on the talk page.

Where a discrepancy exists, the policy page itself overrides. Changing this page does not change policy. Likewise, adding a page to this summary does not elevate it to policy status. Policies are promoted through consensus. See Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines for more.

Shortcut:

All policies are listed at Category:Wikipedia policies. A list that also includes guidelines is at List of policies and guidelines. This page is broken into the following categories:

  • Content, which defines the scope of the encyclopedia and the material that is suitable for it
  • Conduct, which describes how editors can successfully collaborate and what behavior is acceptable
  • Deletion, which explains the processes by which pages, revisions, and logs may be deleted
  • Enforcement, which accounts for various means by which standards may be enforced
  • Legal, which includes rules influenced by legal considerations, and remedies for their misuse
  • Procedural, which documents various processes by which the English Wikipedia operates

Ignore all rules
"If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."

Content

Policy shortcut:
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia content policies:
Article titles
The ideal title for a Wikipedia article is recognizable to English speakers, easy to find, precise, concise, and consistent with other titles.
Biographies of living persons
Articles about living persons, which require a degree of sensitivity, must adhere strictly to Wikipedia's content policies. Be very firm about high-quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material—whether negative, positive, or just questionable—about living(or sometimes recently deceased) persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from Wikipedia articles, talk pages, user pages, and project space."
Image use policy
Generally avoid uploading non-free images; fully describe images' sources and copyright details on their description pages, and try to make images as useful and reusable as possible.
Neutral point of view
Everything that our readers can see, including articles, templates, categories and portals, must be written neutrally and without bias.
No original research
Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new interpretation, analysis, or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas that, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation."
Verifiability
Articles should cite sources whenever possible. While we cannot check the accuracy of cited sources, we can check whether they have been published by a reputable publication and whether independent sources have supported them on review. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
What Wikipedia is not
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Please avoid the temptation to use Wikipedia for other purposes.
Wikipedia is not a dictionary
Wikipedia is not a dictionary or a slang, jargon or usage guide.
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Conduct

Shortcuts:
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia conduct policies:
Civility
Rudeness or insensitivity, whether intentional or not, can distract from and interfere with our work. Dispute resolution forums are available when civil, reasoned discussion breaks down.
Clean start
Any user who is not subject to editing sanctions may abandon his or her account and start fresh under a new one, as long as the new account is not used in an improper manner.
Consensus
Consensus among equals is our only tool for resolving content disputes, and our main tool for resolving all other disputes.
Dispute resolution
The first step to resolving any dispute is to talk to those who disagree with you. If that fails, there are more structured forms of discussion available.
Edit warring
If someone challenges your edits, discuss it with them and seek a compromise, or seek dispute resolution. Do not start fights over competing views and versions. Reverting any part of any single page more than three times in twenty-four hours, or even once if long-term edit-warring is apparent, can result in a block on your account.
Editing policy
Improve pages wherever you can, and don't worry about leaving them imperfect. It is advisable to explain major changes.
Harassment
Do not stop other editors from enjoying Wikipedia by making threats, nitpicking good-faith edits to different articles, repeated annoying and unwanted contacts, repeated personal attacks or posting personal information.
No personal attacks
Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia. Comment on the content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks damage the community and deter editors.
Ownership of articles
Although you retain some rights under Wikipedia's copyright provisions, pages that you create and edit belong to the community. Others can and often do mercilessly edit "your" material.
Sock puppetry
Do not use multiple accounts to create the illusion of greater support for an issue, to mislead others, or to circumvent a block. Do not ask your friends to create accounts to support you or anyone.
Username policy
Choose a neutral username with which you will be happy. You can usually change your name if you need to by asking, but you cannot delete it.
Vandalism
Vandalism is any addition, deletion, or change to content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia. It is inappropriate behavior for an online encyclopedia.

Deletion

Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia deletion policies:
Attack page
A Wikipedia article, page, category, redirect or image that exists primarily to disparage its subject is an "attack page". These pages are subject to being deleted by any administrator at any time.
Criteria for speedy deletion
Articles, images, categories etc. may be "speedily deleted" if they clearly fall within certain categories, which generally boil down to pages lacking content, or disruptive pages. Anything potentially controversial should go through the deletion process instead.
Deletion policy
Deleting articles requires an administrator and generally follows a consensus-forming process. Most potentially controversial deletions require a three-step process and a waiting period of a week.
Oversight
Page revisions can be deleted for legal reasons.
Proposed deletion
As a shortcut around the Articles for Deletion ("AfD") process, for uncontroversial deletions an article can be proposed for deletion, but only once. If no one contests the proposed deletion within seven days, an administrator may delete the article.
Proposed deletion (books)
As a shortcut around the Miscellany for Deletion ("MfD") process, for uncontroversial deletions a Wikipedia-Book can be proposed for deletion, but only once. If no one contests the proposed deletion within seven days, an administrator may delete the book.
Proposed deletion of biographies of living people
Articles which are unsourced biographies of living persons can be proposed for deletion through a special process if they were created after March 18, 2010. If no one contests the proposed deletion within ten days, an administrator may delete the article. In order to contest the proposed deletion, at least one reliable source supporting at least one statement in the article must be added. Administrators may choose to "incubate" articles rather than deleting them outright.
Revision deletion
A function available to administrators to eliminate grossly improper posts and log entries
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Enforcement

Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies:
Administrators
Administrators, like all editors, are not perfect beings. However, in general, they are expected to act as role models within the community, and a good general standard of civility, fairness, and general conduct both to editors and in content matters, is expected. When acting as administrators, they are also expected to be fair, exercise good judgment, and give explanations and be communicative as necessary.
Banning policy
Extremely disruptive editors may be banned from Wikipedia. Please respect these bans, do not bait banned users, and do not help them out. Bans can be appealed to Jimbo Wales or the Arbitration Committee, depending on the nature of the ban.
Blocking policy
Disruptive editors can be blocked from editing for short or long periods of time.
Page protection policy
Pages can be protected against vandals or during fierce content disputes. Protected pages can, but in general should not, be edited by administrators. In addition, pages undergoing frequent vandalism can be semi-protected to block edits by very new or unregistered editors.

Legal

Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia legal policies:

Outside of policies, such as those below and the office actions policy, Wikipedia does not censor itself of content that may be objectionable or offensive, or adopt other perennial legal proposals, so long as it obeys the law of the United States. Legal issues are raised by filing a formal complaint with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Child protection
Editors who advocate or attempt to pursue or facilitate inappropriate adult-child relationships or who identify themselves as paedophiles are to be blocked indefinitely.
Copyright violations
Wikipedia has no tolerance for copyright violations in our encyclopedia, and we actively strive to find and remove any violations.
Copyrights
Material which infringes other copyrights must not be added. The legalities of copyright and "fair use" are quite complex.
Libel
It is Wikipedia policy to delete libelous revisions from the page history. If you believe you have been defamed, please contact us.
No legal threats
Use dispute resolution rather than legal threats, for everyone's sake. We respond quickly to complaints of defamation or copyright infringement. If you do take legal action, please refrain from editing until it is resolved.
Non-free content criteria
The Exemption Doctrine Policy for the English Wikipedia. The cases in which you can declare an image, audio clip, or video clip "fair use" are quite narrow. You must specify the exact use, and only use the image or clip in that one context.
Reusing Wikipedia content
Most of Wikipedia's material may be freely used under the CC-BY-SA and GFDL, which means you must credit authors, relicense the material under CC-BY-SA or GFDL and allow free access to it.
Terms of use
The terms of use are established by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Procedural

Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia procedural policies:
Arbitration Committee/CheckUser and Oversight
Elections, appointments and removals
Arbitration/Policy
Rules for how the Arbitration Committee decides Requests for arbitration.
Bot policy
Programs that update pages automatically in a useful and harmless way may be welcome, as long as their owners seek approval first and are careful to keep them from running amok or being a drain on resources.
CheckUser
CheckUser is a tool allowed to be used by a small number of editors who are permitted to examine user IP information and other server log data under certain circumstances, for the purposes of protecting Wikipedia against actual and potential disruption and abuse.
Global rights policy
English Wikipedia restrictions on users who have global rights on all Foundation sites
IP block exemption
Editors in good standing whose editing is disrupted by unrelated blocks or firewalls may request IP block exemption, which allows editing on an otherwise-blocked IP address.
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Mediation
Mediation is a process that creates valid consensus with the aid of a neutral third party skilled in dispute resolution. Editors may request formal mediation from the Mediation Committee or informal mediation from any Wikipedia contributor.
Mediation Committee/Policy
Rules for how the Mediation Committee conducts formal mediation.
Office actions
The Wikimedia Foundation office reserves the right to speedily delete an article temporarily in cases of exceptional controversy.
Open proxies
Open proxies may be blocked from editing for any period at any time to deal with editing abuse.
Policies and guidelines
Understanding and changing policies and guidelines
Volunteer response team
If you disagree with an edit that was made referencing a volunteer response ticket number as a reason, or in the edit summary, please follow the steps listed at "Wikipedia:Volunteer response team#Dispute resolution".
Wikimedia policy
A list of Wikimedia policy links of interest to Wikipedians, along with links to the texts of the CC-BY-SA and GFDL licenses

Recent changes

See also

Tutorials
Related essays
  • Simplified rule-set – some basic aspect of Wikipedia norms and practices.
    • Eight rules for editing  – if you start out by following these simple rules, the rest should come naturally.
    • Ten rules for editing  – Wikipedia can be daunting, but here we provide tips to make editing smoother.
    • Trifecta – ultra fast overview of foundational principles related to policies and guidelines.
  • How to create policy – recommendations regarding the creation and updating of policy and guideline pages
  • The rules are principles – policies and guidelines exist as rough approximations of their underlying principles.