This is an information page that describes a communal consensus on some aspect or aspects of Wikipedia's norms and practices. It is intended to supplement and/or clarify a process or some guidance. It is not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines; where something is inconsistent with this essay, please defer to those.
The world has learned that Wikipedia is a phenomenal resource. But very few become meaningful contributors, efficient editors, and capable members of the community. Those who do can seem like gods or aliens or worse. Here are their simple secrets.
Like any good magician, it's mostly just practice combined with the right assistance (tools of the trade) and clever tricks (smart shortcuts). You can easily copy what they do-- if not what they know--and at least have a chance at joining the ranks of the real Wikipedia editors. Of course, there's no elite here, and this page is--if anything--about leveling the playing field.
Watchlists - how do people keep track of everything happening here. They set their preferences to add any page they edit to their watchlist. Then they use their watchlist like a guard uses a watch-tower. Watchlists are why experienced users almost always reply to users wherever the conversation started. They're watching it!
Use the history. See what changed. Added or taken away.
Compare changes. Top bullet on the right, bottom bulllet on the left, compare changes. Share it with an [external link]
Know your noticeboard. Disputes that don't easily resolve at the talk page often wind up at a noticeboard. NPOVN is for bias; ORN is for original claims or synthesis; RSN is for sources; ANI is for anything really serious which needs administrator attention; CP is for copyright.
Read the talk page archives. Or better, search the archives.
Popups - Wikipedia has tens of links on every page. If you follow them all, you go nuts. Luckily, Popups gives you a one paragraph pop-up of any link, just by hovering over it. In combination with your Watchlist, Popups is like being able to read the mind of every prisoner in the yard.
importScript('User:Magnus_Manske/less_edit_clutter.js'). Valuable cleanup for the edit page, less junk and separated templates/references
Reftools. Don't cite things with naked links. Add the details of where something came from with this tool.
Twinkle/Friendly - These tools add simple menus which let you leave other users welcome messages and tag articles with issues.
.js Scripts - Allow further customization of the interface, as do your prefs.
AWB - This is a real power-tool, but few need it. If you make 'hundreds' of similar repetitive edits, learn it.
Huggle/STiki/Lupins - Do you just want to keep the riffraff out? These tools let you monitor recent changes in a way that is practical and efficient.
NPOV - summarize content in each reliable source in proportion to how much attention it receives
V - find a reliable source for it; doesn't matter if it's true, only if sources say it is. talk about sources, not truths
RS - it should be published by someone/some organization with a reputation for being right and checking facts
OR - find it in a source, don't combine parts of a source or different sources to say something they don't individually say
Take sources seriously. You have to find a good source for your claim. There's a difference between Wikipedia including all knowledge and all knowledge that is encyclopedic in scope (no articles of your dog) and in reliability (doesn't matter that you read it on some random blog).
BLP - if it's about living people, it can't wait. negative info must be sourced or removed pronto. trivial info should be scrubbed. if they're alive, err on the side of caution. if they're alive and famous, you get 'a little' more latitude but sources are still definitely needed for anything controversial.