Wikipedia:Instruction to editors

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In Wikipedia, instruction to editors, in articles, as opposed to talk pages, has often been considered unencyclopedic. However, this is—not a dictionary-defined word[dubious ], and—a circular argument, and the purpose of this essay and discussion page is to determine the contexts and criteria under which messages to editors are appropriate or inappropriate and what counts as a messages to editors.

Editors are often contrasted with readers, though all editors are necessarily "readers", readers are not here to edit.

Instructions to editors include Template:Unreferenced, Template:Citation needed, and related citation templates, though these may also serve as indications to readers that the article is underdeveloped and potentially inaccurate. Some are presumably only for editors such as Template:Citation style. Other instructions include article or section headings stating: "This section should contain only cited listings."

Arguments for Instruction to editors[edit]

Rarely is an entire article useful to or read by a reader. Instructions to editors provide slightly useful information to readers about the state of the article and as with any part of any encyclopedia's articles may be skipped or skimmed. This is one of the differences that might potentially make Wikipedia superior to a traditional encyclopedia. Since Wikipedia is advert-free it actually has less useless information in the first place than most online encyclopedias.

If a reader implicitly and entirely trusts a traditional encyclopedia or Wikipedia one has bigger problems than a slight excess of information on Wikipedia.

Thus some or many instructions to editors should be displayed on or in articles.

Arguments against Instruction to editors[edit]

Since readers are presumably not here to edit but are presumably here for information, and given Wikipedia:Make articles useful for readers, they presumably only need to know about the article's or articles' subject(s) and not about any work that went into or is going into those articles unless it is currently affecting those articles.

Thus all instruction to editors should either be hidden or displayed on talk pages.

See also[edit]