Wikipedia:Key policies and guidelines

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Wikipedia has developed a body of policies and guidelines which have helped us over the years to work toward our goal of creating a (successful) free encyclopedia.

While we strive to build consensus, Wikipedia is not a democracy, and its governance can be inconsistent. Hence there is disagreement between those who believe rules should be explicitly stated and those who feel that written rules are inherently inadequate to cover every possible variation of problematic or disruptive behavior. In either case, a user who acts against the spirit of our written policies may be reprimanded, even if technically no rule has been violated.

However those who edit in good faith, show civility, seek consensus, and work towards the goal of creating a great encyclopedia should find a welcoming environment. Wikipedia greatly appreciates additions that help all people.

Key policies[edit]

You don't need to read any Wikipedia policies before you contribute. However, the following policies are particularly important to the project, and the sooner you understand and use them, the better:

  1. Wikipedia works by building consensus. Consensus is an inherent part of the wiki process. (See Wikipedia:Consensus)
  2. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Its goals go no further, and material that does not fit this goal may be moved to another Wikimedia project or removed altogether. (See What Wikipedia is not.)
  3. Respect other contributors. Wikipedia contributors come from many different countries and cultures, and have widely different views. Treating others with respect is key to collaborating effectively in building an encyclopedia. (See Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Etiquette, Wikipedia:Dispute resolution.)
  4. Respect copyrights. Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia licensed under the terms of the CC-BY-SA license (and in most cases, also the GNU Free Documentation License). Submitting work which infringes copyrights threatens our objective to build a truly free encyclopedia that anyone can redistribute, and could lead to legal problems. (See Wikipedia:Copyrights.)
  5. Avoid bias. Articles should be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly, proportionately and without bias.
  6. Include only verifiable information. If the information in an article is controversial or likely to be challenged, a reliable source must be cited so that the reader can verify the information. (See Wikipedia:Verifiability.) Avoid original research.

Other concise summaries of key policies[edit]

One of these concise versions of the Wikipedia guidelines should get you familiar with the important policies.

Here's the recommended reading order:

  1. The five pillars of Wikipedia: a quick rundown of the 5 key rules you should read to start editing. Don't worry, it's easy.
  2. Simplified ruleset: 15 rules of thumb to help you avoid problems.
  3. List of policies: A comprehensive list of the 40 official policies with very quick summaries.

Every policy and guideline is listed in one of the following categories:

Other essays and discussions about Wikipedia[edit]

See also[edit]