Wikipedia:Dear Reader

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Not to be confused with Dear Leader.
"WP:DRDR" redirects here. You may be looking for WP:Double redirects.
"Pass me that Mary-Jane, man"...People from many subcultures and communities read Wikipedia. Make sure you don't inadvertently exclude some readers by using terms--without explanation-- which may be familiar only in some subcultures, such 1960s hippie slang like "Mary-Jane" or "Stick it to the Man".

As Wikipedians, we strive to inform our Dear Reader, who is highest in the hierarchy of priorities to be followed when making any editorial decision. We edit for Dear Reader, and we delete for Dear Reader. We need to remember who the Dear Reader is. Sometimes, when a topic is close to our heart, we might be tempted to write only for other readers like ourselves, who know a great deal about the topic. Or we might write an article in a way that would be most helpful for someone who lives in the same region or culture as us.

But we need to remember that most Dear Readers actually differ a great deal from us. Yes, there are some readers that are like you. But most Dear Readers are younger/older. They live in a big city/small town/rural area/remote region. They know very little/a lot about technology. They are from Africa/Asia/Europe/South America/North America.

To make sure that we are writing, editing, and deleting for our Dear Reader, we need to try to imagine someone who is the opposite of us reading the article. Or imagine a Martian reading the article. Do not assume that the Dear Reader has the same cultural touchstones as you (literature, history, geography, etc.). Expressions and analogies that are second nature to you might have no meaning--or the wrong meaning--on the other side of the world.

If you are a North American, and you refer to Haight-Ashbury, you might reasonably to expect many North Americans of a certain age to know that that was the location of a hippie mecca in the late 1960s. But to a huge number of Dear Readers--those from outside North America, Generation Y people, people who are "working for the Man", and so on--the term might not be meaningful. You can "gloss" terms that might not be familiar to all readers by defining them using an appositive phrase[1], add Wikilinks, or add a footnote.

Of course another solution would be to remove all cultural references, but that would take the richness out of the language. It would be like reading a simplified, "Plain English" version of a poem. Some of the great poems of the 19th century would be reduced to: "A man loved a Woman. She did not love him. He was sad".

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ An example would be as follows: "The New York Times stated that in the 1990s, the Farthington Park in Detroit had become a modern-day Haight-Ashbury, a reference to the 1960s-era hippie counterculture community in San Franscisco." (fictional example)