Wikipedia:Guide to requesting assistance

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This is a guide on how to effectively request assistance from other editors. (See Help:Contents for information about where to ask for assistance.)

Why should I try to write effective requests?[edit]

Because otherwise your request may not be responded to, or even read.

Other Wikipedians, and especially administrators, will normally be ready to help you if they can. But like you, they are unpaid volunteers, and may not want to spend more time than is absolutely necessary looking for the information that they need to help you, or to understand what you even want of them. You should therefore try to write requests that are easy to read and that contain all information that others need to help you.

How do I write effective requests?[edit]

Use correct English[edit]

Write in English, not in any other language. Pay attention to grammar, syntax and orthography. Do not write in ALL CAPS or in all lowercase. Form full sentences and use standard punctuation. If you do not do so, your request will be less readable and therefore fewer people will read it.

Explain what you want and why[edit]

Don't assume that others know what your problem is. Even an administrator who helped you a few days ago may have forgotten all about your problem. Therefore, you should usually explain:

  • what happened,
  • what you want others to do, and
  • why they should do that.

Link to everything that matters[edit]

People want to help you, but they want to be able to do so quickly. Therefore, help them by including appropriate wikilinks to all relevant material in your request. At a minimum:

  • When you first mention an article or any other Wikipedia page, provide a wikilink to it by wrapping its name into a pair of square brackets ([[ ]]). For example, [[Horse]] links to Horse.
  • When you first mention other users, link to their user page by using the template {{user|Username}}. If your request is about the conduct of that user, use the template {{userlinks|Username}}. This will provide more links that are of interest to administrators.
  • When you link to a discussion, link to the specific section that contains that discussion, rather than only to the page.
  • When you say that you or another user did something on Wikipedia, always include a diff of that edit. This allows others to quickly check for themselves what happened. You should include the date and time as part of the diff, unless the timing is not relevant to your request.

For example, instead of writing the following, which makes it very difficult to understand what is going on:

"Jimbo deleted the text from John Gummer!"

write the following, which includes all required links:

"On 12:12, 13 April 2011, Jimbo Wales (talk · contribs) removed an unsourced piece of text from the article John Gummer, Baron Deben."

Especially in the context of dispute resolution, requests that do not include these links may be ignored or removed.

Be brief[edit]

Long texts are often ignored. Therefore, be as brief as possible. Write only what is required for others to understand what should be done and why. If you need to make reference to long texts or discussions, link to them rather than reproducing them in your request.

But include necessary context[edit]

Include the context necessary to understand your request. For example, if you request assistance with a problem that has been discussed previously, link to the pages and sections where it has been discussed and summarize the outcome of these discussions.

For example, if you request the undeletion of an article, link to the article (it will show up as a red link) as well as to the page(s) where its deletion has been discussed (you'll find a link to it in the deletion log that appears when you click on the red link).

Comment on the content, not on the contributor[edit]

Do not make allegations about the motives of others, or about their bad behavior (unless this behavior is the subject of your request). Instead, comment on the content, not on the contributor.

Notify others[edit]

If your request concerns other editors, and especially if you make a request about disputes with others, you should notify these other editors about your request. To notify others, just leave them a message on their user talk page, and include a link to the section of the page on which you have made your request. Then, to show that you have notified the other editor, you should add a diff of the notification message to your request.

On some pages, making a notification in this way is mandatory. Your request may not be answered or may be removed if you do not add a diff of the notification message to your request.

Follow the forms prescribed for certain pages[edit]

Some noticeboards require you to submit requests in a certain form. This helps other editors to process these requests faster and to make sure that no required information has been left out. Please follow the prescribed form, or your request may be removed or ignored. The instructions for submitting requests are normally at the top of the page. If you are unsure about how to submit a request in the proper form, ask for assistance on the noticeboard's talk page or on the help desk.

See also[edit]