Wikipedia:Editor assistance/FAQ

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Editor Assistance: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Here, you can find some descriptive advice to the most common questions that are received at Editor Assistance. This is intended to provide quick access to some of the answers that you seek and is not necessarily a substitute for asking us at EA and reading the relevant policies, guidelines, and help pages.
  • If you would still like to ask a question at EA, please click here to start a new section and someone will reply shortly.
  • For related FAQ pages, see Wikipedia:FAQ.

Resolving disagreements[edit]

When another editor does something with which you disagree, there is one course of action that you should take: Talk to them. If you assume good faith on their part and approach them politely, you are likely to receive a satisfactory explanation. There is no specific requirement for any editor to respond to comments on their talk page or any other location, though most editors will almost always provide some response. Uncivil comments are less likely to receive a polite and helpful response. Many editors will respond at their own talk page, so it is a good idea to watch talk pages on which you leave comments. For further guidance, see Dispute Resolution or seek assistance from this project.

Frequently asked questions and some common answers[edit]

Q: I added a link to another website, but it has been removed[edit]

External links are subject to a guideline that sets out the recommended approach. External links should meet the following criteria:

  1. The website to which the link leads must not violate copyright laws.
  2. It should meet web accessibility standards; Flash-driven content is discouraged, for example.
  3. Its content should meet the needs of an encyclopædia; that means that it should be factual, text-rich, informative, and directly relevant to the subject.

Additionally, there is a section entitled links to be avoided that is very important, but too long to summarise here. Very long web pages are best avoided or at least annotated as such when you add the link, because many of the world's internet users still have slow connections. A link to the subject's official website is generally preferred and encouraged.

When an article's link section becomes lengthy, it needs to be trimmed, because Wikipedia is not a repository of links. If the links are all of a similar quality, editors will normally operate a "last in, first out" policy.

Conflict of interest is a very important guideline that can apply to external links; if you have any association with the site to which you intend to link, please do not add the link, but propose it on the article's talk page and make your COI known. If other editors agree that the link is worth having, they will add it. Please note that a lack of responses does not equate to consensus in your favour.

If you add a link to a number of articles, this may be seen as a spam attempt and will be reverted en masse. This is particularly likely if these are your only edits to Wikipedia, as this may indicate the possibility of a single purpose account. Experienced editors will normally try to assume good faith, but they are likely to respond to common indicators such as this. Attempts to increase a site's page ranking will not work because Wikipedia uses "nofollow" tags in its source code.

Rich media content is generally discouraged by point #2 in the above list. If an example of rich media content is really worth including, you should link to its parent page (the one that contains a link to the page with rich media content) and if this is not practical, the nature of the content should be explicitly stated so that readers can make an informed choice about whether to follow the link. Some rich content can cause crashes or freezes in some browsers if such content is blocked or unsupported.

Link sections are subject to Wikipedia's policy about undue weight in article content. Websites that promote a particular point of view should be handled very carefully. If in any doubt, make a proposal on the talk page.

There is another factor in the removal of links that is not explicitly covered by this guideline; that of commercial content and the promotion of products and services. There is some consensus that supports the strict removal of links that have promotional potential, regardless of whether there was an obvious intention to promote when the link was added. This is loosely related to the spam guideline. When a link is removed on these grounds, it is quite common for an editor to ask why his link was removed when other similar links remain; this is explained in this section of the spam guideline.

One final factor that is not explicitly covered by any of these guidelines is the human factor. Editors are only human and have limited amounts of spare time, so when one link appears to have been singled out, it can simply be because similar established links were not checked for comparison. Links can sometimes become "accepted" by going unnoticed for a long period of time. In particular, comparisons cannot be made between articles because it is unlikely that one editor has seen and compared a range of similar articles. Similarly, different editors will make slightly different assessments based on their interpretation (or knowledge) of existing guidelines and consensus.

Q: I created a new article, but it got deleted. Why?[edit]

Wikipedia's administrators (editors with extra tools) have to delete literally hundreds of articles each and every day. Many of these are created by people who want to write about how cool they are or how dumb their friend is, and they get removed very quickly. But the process that is used – speedy deletion – is also used for other newly created pages that fail to:

  1. Assert the notability of their subject, when that subject is a person, group, band, company, or other organisation
  2. Provide the subject with some context

It is also used to nominate and remove test articles, attack pages, vandalism, and copyright violations (see below). The "speedy" process comes in two forms. One involves a new page patroller[1] adding a tag to an article that he believes should be deleted, which adds the article to a category for review by an admin, who will determine whether to delete it. Admins are permitted to immediately delete articles that unquestionably meet the criteria without waiting for a nomination to occur.

Articles that do not meet any of the "speedy" criteria can be nominated for deletion in one of two ways. Usually, they will be listed at Articles for deletion and a discussion will take place. This is not a vote, but a consensus-building system. This page explains the processes involved and this page describes arguments that we should avoid in the debates. The third type of deletion nomination that you might see is Proposed Deletion, which is intended for obvious and uncontroversial AFD candidates that cannot be speedily deleted. Deletion policy sets out the rules of all the deletion processes that are used on Wikipedia and this page explains the reasons behind deletion in a nutshell and tells you how to check the deletion log. Ultimately, if an article is to avoid any form of deletion, it must meet the key policies and guidelines for content:

  1. It must demonstrate sufficient notability
  2. The content must be verifiable and contain no original research
  3. It should not be a neologism
  4. It must not constitute spam or advertorial
  5. It should not be a vanity autobiography
  6. It must be suitable for an encyclopædia
  7. It must not contain any copyright violations

Q: Can I use images and text from other sources?[edit]

Unless otherwise stated – such as with a free license disclaimer or similar – website content is protected by copyright law just as other forms of intellectual property, such as books and music. Images and text that you find on the internet must not be copied to Wikipedia unless one of the following applies:

  1. It is a logo or other potentially acceptable image that is covered by the fair use policy according to US copyright law. Its use in illustrating a relevant article must be justifiable according to the terms of the fair use policy. Types of acceptable image are listed in the policy.
  2. It is known to be in the public domain (usually determined by its age and/or source). This may include artwork that was produced before a certain year or some images from government sources.
  3. It is your own original work and you are willing to license it under the GFDL.
  4. It is freely licensed at its source. For example, some internet-based image repositories may have some content whose license is compatible.
  5. You have obtained written permission from the copyright holder. See Donating copyrighted materials and Requesting copyright permission for more details.

See also: Image use policy

Q: How do I deal with copyright infringement?[edit]

Any editor who has good reason to believe that an article contains a copyright violation can and should take action. If a previous version of the article does not contain any copyrighted text, it may be the expedient solution to revert to that version. If there are no suitable versions, try to rewrite the content in your words, even if this entails reducing it to a stub. If the source text is from a website, you can tag the article with {{db-copyvio}} and include the URL of the page from which the text was taken, like this: {{db-copyvio|url= enter the full URL here }}

If you have discovered that Wikipedia is hosting copyrighted material that you own, you can make a request for its immediate removal by contacting us at this page.

Q: Why has this article been tagged?[edit]

Maintenance tags are routinely added to articles that have one or more deficiencies. These can include cleanup requirements, disputes, and references. Maintenance tags are important because they categorise articles according to the deficiencies that need attention, which allows interested editors and maintenance WikiProjects such as the League of Copyeditors to find and fix them.

Generally speaking, editors are encouraged to use their judgment[2] and remove any tag that is not applicable, or replace it with something more suitable, as needed. Avoid removing tags that flag a genuine issue simply because you disagree with them; this can be unconstructive, so try to fix the issue or seek assistance. Some tags, such as {{NPOV}}, should be used in conjunction with a brief explanation on the talk page. Discussion is very much encouraged. Typically, the more serious issues should be handled with extra care.

Q: My edits keep getting reverted. What should I do?[edit]

Reversions are frequently made to undo edits that fail to observe one or more of the following:

  1. Biographies of living persons
  2. Neutral point of view
  3. No original research
  4. Reliable sources
  5. Verifiability
  6. What Wikipedia is not

If you are unsure about the reason behind the reversion, approach the editor concerned, remembering to stay civil and keep a cool head. If you are convinced that the revert was erroneous, seek a third opinion before taking any further action. In addition to remaining civil and assuming good faith, the golden rule is do not enter into an edit war. If you are a new editor, you should always keep in mind that you may simply have unwittingly infringed a guideline or policy with which you are not familiar.

Q: Where can I get help with Wiki syntax?[edit]

For an at-a-glance guide to the basics, see the Cheatsheet. This lists the most common examples of markup from the MediaWiki software upon which this and many other wikis are built. Wiki markup is a help page with more details. How to edit a page includes information on when to use wiki syntax and editing guidelines about related topics. Help:Table gives a basic guide to building tables; it can get more advanced than that. Likewise, Help:Template is an introduction into the basics of templates, but this only scratches the surface of what templates are capable of. The links in the sidebar at Help:Editing are also very useful. For some interesting little tricks, see Help:Magic words.

Q: I need help improving an article. What help is available?[edit]

The first page that you should read is Article development, which outlines the steps that are typically involved. Also of interest is the Guide to writing better articles. It is also advantageous to study the best articles that Wikipedia has to offer; look through the lists of good and featured articles. By definition, featured articles (FAs) are among the very best in every respect; they are very accurately and thoroughly researched and referenced, very well structured and formatted, have well written prose, and are properly balanced.

Editors refer to a group of guidelines called the Manual of Style, which has a say in almost every aspect of an article's style, structure, and even details such as dates and numbers. There are quite a lot of pages in this category, but it is important to be familiar with them when creating and improving articles.

Once some significant work has taken place, an article may undergo Peer Review to receive further suggestions and critique. Or, if the editor believes the article is of high quality, a more thorough assessment is offered by good article (FA) or featured article (FA) review. GA reviews are carried out by one editor per article, while FA reviews employ consensus.

Q: How should I approach editors who are affected by Conflict Of Interest (COI), bias, or similar issues?[edit]

It can be difficult to determine cases in which a conflict of interest is present and has influenced an editor's contributions, not least because most people are reluctant to publicly state their relationship to a subject. Sometimes, this is because they are editing with an agenda, but it is more commonly because they simply don't see an issue with it. In fact, there really is no issue with a conflict of interest as long as it does not unduly affect an editor's neutrality or behaviour on Wikipedia. This means that tact and diplomacy should be used when you have a good reason to suspect the influence of a conflict of interest. If an editor has an agenda, it may become apparent from frequent POV pushing and/or editing in only one subject or one article. There is a warning template for COI, but it is preferable to make a more personally worded approach to the issue. There is a set of escalating warnings for NPOV infringements, which should be used carefully and in order of severity. Again, a personal approach may be more appropriate, depending on the circumstances.

If a COI situation becomes problematic and the editor is non-responsive or tendentious, it may be time to post a request at the COI noticeboard. If their editing is related to a biography of a living person and a significant violation of that policy has arisen, it may be appropriate to leave a post at the BLP noticeboard. Also of interest are the NPOV tutorial, the guidelines for controversial articles, and the autobiography guideline.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Any reasonably experienced editor can take on the task of patrolling new pages or recent changes.
  2. ^ This gets easier and more consistent with experience.