Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Resources/Lesson 2

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Lesson: Introduction to Wikipedia editing[edit]

The following lesson plan describes an overall introduction to editing English Wikipedia.

It is not intended as a literal step-by-step guide, instead it offers an outline by example, and should be tailored to suit the individual students.

Duration: Approx. 1 - 2 hours; easily split into shorter multiple lessons as appropriate

Remember that everyone learns at a different pace; there is no deadline. Some people will absorb all the facts very quickly, others may be initially overwhelmed; in the latter case, it may be appropriate to focus on the very basics and leave the rest until later. Conversely, if a "tech savvy" user is keen to learn intricate template encoding, then don't hold them back.



  • Teaching by doing; people are much more likely to learn and understand if they actually perform the edits themselves
  • A flexible approach; try to tailor examples to the users interests - e.g. use an appropriate picture in the examples; point them towards project groups that match their edits
  • Encourage questions
  • Use mistakes as opportunities; if the user messes things up with an edit, it is a great chance to show how easy it is to 'undo'
  • Encourage good practice from the very beginning - signing, using edit summaries, the need for references and so on


  • Create a userspace test page (if not done in earlier lesson)
  • Use edit summaries
  • Bold, italics
  • WP:Wikilink and piped links
  • External links
  • Images, thumbnail
  • New == Sections == and the TOC
  • A simple template {{unreferenced}}
  • References - simple, named and a brief mention of {{citation}}
  • Leaving a talk-page message, signing, and message alerts (if not done in earlier lesson)

Example session[edit]

[03:28] * NewWikipedian has joined #wikipedia-en-ambassadors

[03:28] <Helpmebot> Welcome to #wikipedia-en-ambassadors, the Wikipedia Ambassadors help channel! Feel free to ask as many questions as you like, a helper should be around shortly to answer your questions!

[03:28] <Ambassador> Hi NewWikipedian

[03:28] <NewWikipedian> hi

[03:29] <NewWikipedian> first time I'm here

[03:29] <NewWikipedian> so how does all this work

[03:30] <Ambassador> This is the help channel, for English Wikipedia. So - are you a new user?

[03:30] <NewWikipedian> yes ..

[03:30] <Ambassador> Welcome, then. What is your username on Wikipedia?

[03:30] <NewWikipedian> actually I just joined as a member today

[03:30] <Ambassador> cool

[03:31] <NewWikipedian> NewWikipedian123 is my username

[03:32] <Ambassador> Ok, so, for a start - are you logged in now, in another window?

[03:32] <NewWikipedian> well I was til I came here .. in another window that is

[03:32] <Ambassador> OK - well, if you can open wikipedia, in another window or tab, and click on 'my talk page' at the top-right (near your username) you will see that I've left you a 'welcome' message

[03:33] <NewWikipedian> where is the welcome page? LOL

[03:33] <Ambassador> can you get yourself logged in?

[03:33] <Ambassador> I'll talk you through it from there

[03:34] <NewWikipedian> I opened a new tab and I"m still logged in

[03:34] <Ambassador> ok - near the top right, just after your user name, click on "my talk"

[03:34] <NewWikipedian> k

[03:34] <Ambassador> you'll see messages; one is a big "Welcome and introduction" with a cartoon picture, yes?

[03:35] <NewWikipedian> big page with lots of text

[03:35] <Ambassador> yep, ok; look for this line;

[03:35] <Ambassador> Play in your user area. For example, create User:NewWikipedian123/test.

[03:35] <Ambassador> Do you see that? in the box?

[03:36] <Ambassador> look for the red bit

[03:36] <NewWikipedian> um

[03:36] <NewWikipedian> I see a msg from ambassador-chick42

[03:37] <Ambassador> a few lines down, in the box it says;

[03:37] <Ambassador> * You don't need to read anything - anybody can edit; just go to an article and edit it. Be Bold, but please don't put silly stuff in - it will be removed very quickly, and will annoy people.

[03:37] <Ambassador> * Ask for help. Talk to us live, or edit this page, put {{helpme}} and describe what help you need. Someone will reply very quickly - usually within a few minutes.

[03:37] <Ambassador> * Play in your user area. For example, create User:NewWikipedian123/test.

[03:37] <Ambassador> ...can you see the part in red?

[03:38] <NewWikipedian> looking for a red part

[03:38] <NewWikipedian> ok I see the play in user area part

[03:38] <Ambassador> ok - click the red bit

[03:38] <Ambassador> don't do anything else; I'll go through it, one bit at a time

[03:39] <Ambassador> so - you'll see a big empty edit box

[03:39] <NewWikipedian> yeah an editor

[03:39] <Ambassador> we're making a test page - you can try things on is in your own user area, so it does no harm

[03:39] <Ambassador> ok, so - just write 'hello' and then...

[03:40] <Ambassador> ...underneath the big edit box, to the right, is a small 'edit summary' box. Do you see that?

[03:40] <NewWikipedian> i c it

[03:40] <Ambassador> ok - in the 'edit summary' just put 'test' It is important to *always* put something in the edit summary, to say what you are doing.

[03:40] <Ambassador> then save it (click 'save')

[03:41] <NewWikipedian> ok I clicked save

[03:41] <Ambassador> cool; one second...

[03:41] <NewWikipedian> does it have a captcha thing at the top?

[03:41] <Ambassador> ...ok, is it now asking you to type in some wiggly letters?

[03:41] <Ambassador> yes

[03:41] <Ambassador> please do that

[03:41] <NewWikipedian> sec

[03:42] <Ambassador>'s just because the account is new. It won't happen after a short time.

[03:42] <NewWikipedian> ok done

[03:42] * Ambassador looks...

[03:42] <Ambassador> ...yep, great, I see the page. So - we've made a page. Called "User:NewWikipedian123/test"

[03:42] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:42] <NewWikipedian> :D

[03:42] <Ambassador> because it is called "User:NewWikipedian123/.....something..." it is in your own area, ok?

[03:43] <Ambassador> So, you can do anything you like there; to get the hang of editing.

[03:43] <NewWikipedian> ok I understand that part

[03:43] <Ambassador> Now...let me show you something...

[03:43] <Ambassador> ...if you click on 'my talk' again near the top right - to get back to your talk page, with the 'welcome'

[03:43] <Ambassador> ...let me know if you see the 'welcome' stuff again?

[03:43] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:44] <Ambassador> ok, what I wanted to explain was...

[03:44] <Ambassador> ...the link is now blue, not red, yes?

[03:44] <Ambassador> Play in your user area. For example, create User:NewWikipedian123/test.

[03:44] <Ambassador> ...because, that page now exists.

[03:44] <NewWikipedian> k

[03:44] <Ambassador> a 'red link' is a non-existent page. A blue one is a 'wikilink'

[03:44] <Ambassador> cool; ok; click the blue link

[03:44] <Ambassador> you'll see the 'hello' page again?

[03:45] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:45] <Ambassador> right; I just wanted to show you - you can always get back to it, like that. So, now, click the 'edit' tab at the top

[03:45] <Ambassador> you'll be back in the edit box, and you'll see the 'hello' yes?

[03:45] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:45] <Ambassador> ok; now try adding '''something in bold''' and ''something in italics''

[03:46] <Ambassador> if you put text within three apostrophes, it will appear in bold

[03:46] <Ambassador> 2 for italics.

[03:46] <Ambassador> So, try that - any text you like - then remember to fill in the 'edit summary' - put "trying bold and italics" and then save it again

[03:47] <NewWikipedian> done

[03:47] * Ambassador looks...

[03:47] <Ambassador> yep, great. So that's bold and italics. Let's try something else... I'm gonna assume, now, that you know how to click 'edit' and you'll remember to put in the edit summary. So...

[03:47] <Ambassador> ...edit the page, and try [[sausage]] just like that. save it.

[03:48] <Ambassador> this is a 'wikilink'

[03:48] <Ambassador> so you could put 'trying a wikilink' in the edit summary - but anything is ok. 'testing' or whatever

[03:48] <NewWikipedian> done

[03:48] <Ambassador> When you save that, the word 'sausage' should be blue, yes?

[03:49] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:49] <Ambassador> ok - click on it

[03:49] <Ambassador> you'll see the article about sausages

[03:49] <Ambassador> so does that bit make sense?

[03:49] <NewWikipedian> far out

[03:49] <NewWikipedian> yes

[03:49] <NewWikipedian> how do I get back to my edit page

[03:50] <Ambassador> either 'back' in your browser, or, click 'my talk' at the top right, then follow the link in the welcome message

[03:50] <Ambassador> let me know when you get back to the test page

[03:50] <NewWikipedian> back

[03:51] <Ambassador> great, ok, cool. Now, you will come up on a question; imagine you want to say "I live in Eastwood" BUT the article about it is actually called "Eastwood, Florida" - you do it like this;

[03:51] <Ambassador> I live in [[Eastwood, Florida|Eastwood]]

[03:52] <Ambassador> In the middle there is a 'pipe symbol' - you know? A vertical bar

[03:52] <Ambassador> |

[03:52] <Ambassador> Try that;

[03:52] <Ambassador> it will link the word "Eastwood" to the article called "Eastwood, Florida"

[03:52] <Ambassador> a piped link

[03:53] <NewWikipedian> hmm

[03:53] <Ambassador> I'll go as slow as you like, so if you get lost, just say so, and I'll try to explain better.

[03:53] <NewWikipedian> the mouseover takes it to Eastwood,_florida ?

[03:53] <Ambassador> yes, exactly

[03:54] <Ambassador> click it

[03:54] <Ambassador> it should link to the correct article?

[03:54] <NewWikipedian> it adds the underscore?

[03:54] <Ambassador> no, it links to a different page name. Let me explain.

[03:55] <Ambassador> Imagine that, in an article, you want to write "He met John Smith." ok? But, we have lots of pages on lots of people called John Smith.

[03:55] <NewWikipedian> k

[03:55] <Ambassador> The one you want is, for example, "John Smith (Labour Party leader)" right?

[03:55] <NewWikipedian> k

[03:55] <Ambassador> So, you would write: He met [[John Smith (Labour Party leader)|John Smith]].

[03:55] <Ambassador> Does that make sense now?

[03:56] <NewWikipedian> mmmmmm

[03:56] <Ambassador> it is a way of linking from one word (any word, or words) to any article.

[03:56] <NewWikipedian> not sure why the

[04:39] <Ambassador> that's how it all works.

[04:39] <Ambassador> and that's how ALL wikis work - not just English Wikipedia

[04:39] <NewWikipedian> nice

[04:39] <Ambassador> so it's a great skill to know.

[04:39] <Ambassador> Wiktionary, Wikiversity, German/French/Japanese Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, etc etc etc

[04:39] <Ambassador> all same

[04:48] <NewWikipedian> nothing like learning something new

[04:48] <Ambassador> yes; it really is good fun on Wikipedia

[04:49] <Ambassador> I warn you - it's *very* addictive!

[04:49] <NewWikipedian> yeah sure ... lol if I don't get it all deleted cuz it's not perfect syntax

[04:49] <Ambassador> yeah - unfort, it is quite a steep learning curve, the first bit

[04:50] <Ambassador> it's supposed to be 'anyone can edit' - and they can...but...there are all our policies and rules and stuff.

[04:50] <Ambassador> we do try and keep it simple, but it's massive; 3 million articles

[04:50] <Ambassador> there are literally hundreds of edits, every minute, every day

[04:50] <Ambassador> new articles every minute, too

[04:51] <NewWikipedian> so I can add something to an article if I have a <ref> link to where it was said elsewhere?

[04:51] <Ambassador> It has to be 'notable' - which means...

[04:51] <Ambassador> significant coverage in reliable, independent sources

[04:51] <Ambassador> (that's the policy)

[04:51] <Ambassador> so - 3 or more newspaper articles about it, fine

[04:51] <Ambassador> some books

[04:52] <Ambassador> something like that

[04:52] <NewWikipedian> always wondered bout that

[04:52] <Ambassador> (there is a whole lot more to it, but that is the gist of it)

[04:52] <NewWikipedian> ppl r always quoting wiki articles

[04:52] <Ambassador> yes, well...of course, not all articles are good

[04:52] <Ambassador> lots are terrible.

[04:52] <Ambassador> shouldn't trust the article - you should check the references out

[04:53] <Ambassador> we do have quite a lot of articles rated as 'good article' and 'featured article' - they are all pretty accurate

[04:53] <Ambassador> but we do also have a LOT of really bad articles, with no references

[04:53] <Ambassador> we're working on it

[04:54] <Ambassador> the idea is, every day, it gets just a little bit better

[04:54] <NewWikipedian> so how'd ya'll delete my additions so quick if you have so many w/o references?

[04:54] <Ambassador> we watch edits, pretty much as they happen.

[04:54] <NewWikipedian> hmm

[04:55] <NewWikipedian> I'll keep trying to add some text til I get it right lol

[04:56] <Ambassador> heh; well; you can start off w/ easy stuff. Like, just, fixing spelling, or fixing a section heading error, etc.

[04:56] <Ambassador> by doing so, you pick things up; like, IDK, how to change the size of a pic or something

[04:56] <NewWikipedian> I'll read the code

[04:57] <Ambassador> ...and you talk to people, and learn how things work. You maybe get involved with the discussions about deleting bad articles...whatever.

[04:57] <NewWikipedian> that's what I do .. analyze code

[04:57] <Ambassador> There are loads of different things to get involved in.

[04:57] <Ambassador> Ah - yeah - the templates; they're fun

[04:57] <Ambassador> it's not exactly a full-blown programming language

[04:57] <Ambassador> but, it's quite impressive, what you can do

[04:58] <Ambassador> like e.g. that {{unreferenced}} thing. When you add that to an article, it is also put into [[category:articles lacking references]]

[04:58] <NewWikipedian> might be fun to learn it

[04:58] <Ambassador> (only, because that test page was in user space, it actually didn't add it to the category! it's clever)

[04:59] <NewWikipedian> so r u retired programmer

[04:59] <Ambassador> it only adds live articles to the category

[05:00] <Ambassador> My professional background is mostly in IT. Not really programming though - well, a bit

[05:08] <NewWikipedian> well I better get to bed.. thanks for your help

[05:08] <Ambassador> no problems

[05:09] <NewWikipedian> nice to meet u btw

[05:09] <Ambassador> yes - nice to meet you too, NewWikipedian; I hope to see you again. Cheers!

[05:10] <NewWikipedian> salute!  :D

[05:10] * NewWikipedian Quit (Quit: Page closed)