Wikipedia:Press Kit

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Hello! Welcome to the Wikipedia Press Kit. This is a short guide to Wikipedia for journalists, with information about Wikipedia.

There is also a Wikimedia Foundation Press Kit, but this local press kit is here to give you more in-depth information about the English Wikipedia, one of many projects the Foundation supports (though it was the first and is currently the largest).

Basic information[edit]

Frequently Asked Questions[edit]

  1. What is the difference between Wikipedia and other wikis?
    The term wiki is a generic term meaning a web site where anyone can change any page at any time. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia in the form of a wiki. There are versions of Wikipedia in over 270 languages, including, of course, English.
  2. Then what is Wikimedia?
    The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit corporation that oversees the community project. Wikipedia is the original, but now one of many, projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. Contact information can be found on the Foundation's wiki. Also see Wikimedia Foundation FAQs for more information about Wikimedia and donating to Wikimedia.
  3. Then what is MediaWiki?
    MediaWiki is the name of the open source wiki software created by both volunteer and paid programmers to run Wikipedia. However, it is a general software package that anyone can download to start their own wiki on their own web server.
  4. So what is Wikia?
    Wikia is a for-profit (commercial) wiki hosting service that is completely separate from Wikipedia and Wikimedia. The founders of Wikia are Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales, both prominent in the Wikipedia community, but there are no formal ties between Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia, Inc. Wikia, like many other sites, uses the same MediaWiki software used to run Wikipedia.
  5. What is the proper way to refer to all these things?
    • Wikipedia is the main encyclopedia project. (Note that the definite article the is not used, unless one is referring to a specific language edition: "The German Wikipedia is the German-language edition of Wikipedia.")
    • The Wikimedia Foundation, based in the United States, is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that maintains the project
    • A wiki is the generic term for web site that anyone can edit, which may run MediaWiki or any of many dozens of other wiki software packages.
    • MediaWiki is the name of the software that runs Wikipedia, and many other independent sites.
    • Wikia is a commercial service, with headquarters in San Mateo, California.
  6. Can you give me some examples of proper usage?
    • WRONG: "The Wikipedia has volunteers worldwide."
    • RIGHT: "Wikipedia has volunteers worldwide."
    • WRONG: "The university started a Wikipedia for its students to collaborate."
    • RIGHT: "The university started a wiki for its students to collaborate."
    • WRONG: "The Wikipedia Foundation announced a new project today."
    • RIGHT: "The Wikimedia Foundation announced a new project today."
    • WRONG: "People should view the Wiki article for the latest information"
    • RIGHT: "People should view the Wikipedia article for the latest information."
  7. Who are the administrators in Wikipedia?
    Administrators, sometimes called sysops or admins, are somewhat of a misnomer. They are ordinary volunteers who have been around long enough to warrant having the capability to delete articles, protect articles and to block other users.
    • They do not have editorial authority in Wikipedia.
    • They do not speak for their respective Wikipedia communities.
    • They are not employees of the Wikimedia Foundation.
    • They do not speak for the Wikimedia Foundation.

Is Wikipedia accurate?[edit]

  • Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia gives an overview of our philosophy on how Wikipedia should be used by researchers. Readers need to apply critical thinking skills to everything they read - everything from Wikipedia and blogs to books and traditional encyclopedias. People need to be aware of how what they read was written and who wrote it, so they identify reliable vs. unreliable sources. In some cases, it's better to use Wikipedia as the first step in the research process, rather than the last step.
  • The community is concerned about this issue, and is trying to come up with ways to improve accuracy, including some projects to publish "stable" versions, either online, on CD or DVD, or in print. See Category:Wikipedia editorial validation.

Common misconceptions about Wikipedia[edit]

Some misconceptions about Wikipedia that feature in press reports:

  • Assuming that one person or group of people are "in charge" of particular articles. In fact no-one is in charge of any article and almost all have multiple authors. Those who contribute to a given page, or watch its development over time, are simply those who have become interested enough to do so.
  • Not realizing what a huge amount of information flows through the site on a daily basis. At peak times, there can be more than one edit per second. The amount of information being added to Wikipedia — much less what's already there — is far too vast for any one person to check all of it. Fortunately, there are thousands of us reading it all the time.
  • Not understanding the scale of vandalism vs. useful edits.
  • Many reporters seem to assume that when Jimmy Wales talks about ways in which the site might improve or change, that this is an announcement about something definite that will happen in the near future. In truth, many of these so-called announcements are actually just Mr. Wales attempting to summarize discussions that have been going on in the community for some time, and which may or may not actually happen. You may wish to clarify these points with Jimmy, other Board members, or other sources familiar with the project. You can also read for yourself about what's going on, including on individual policy pages in Category:Wikipedia editorial validation, the Wikipedia:Village pump, Category:Wikipedia proposals, and the Signpost.

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