Wikipedia:Tip of the day/2004 archive

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This is an archive of tips on using Wikipedia that have appeared on the Community Portal page in the past. Newest tips are on top.

Current tip[edit]

To edit the current tip of the day visit Template:Totd.


Flagging images[edit]

When uploading images or other media for use in Wikipedia articles, always remember to add the appropriate copyright tag to show what license the material is under, or if it is in the public domain. Also, regardless of how the material is licensed for use on Wikipedia, please include information on its source. This includes pictures you created yourself; if you took the photo, give yourself credit – you deserve it.

More info: Wikipedia:Image use policy

The toolbelt[edit]

If your browser supports bookmarklets in JavaScript, you can use a script that will let you highlight a word on any web page and search for it in Wikipedia by clicking on a bookmark. Your browser preferences may also allow you to create shortcuts to search for Wikipedia articles in the address bar. Editing tools are also available, such as converters that generate wiki syntax from HTML or CSV, or graphical aids like EasyTimeline to visually display sequences of events.

More info: Wikipedia:Tools

Sorting categories[edit]

When linking an article to a category, you can tell the category how to sort the article alphabetically by using a piped link. For example, [[Category:Baroque composers|Bach, Johann Sebastian]] will alphabetize Johann Sebastian Bach in Category:Baroque composers under B instead of J. The category link belongs after the article text but before any interlanguage links. If you want to help develop the category system, check out some of our current categorization projects.

More info: Help:Category

Section links[edit]

When linking to a page, if the link is particularly relevant to a specific section of the page, you can have the link take people straight to that section by adding the # sign and the section title to the link. If you include a section link in an article, always use a piped link to display normal text for readability. Also, keep in mind that the section title might change, in which case the link will simply go to the top of the linked page. Redirects do not follow section links, however, so it is useless to include them there.

More info: Wikipedia:Section#Section linking

Sneak preview[edit]

While editing a page, you can use the show preview button (located right next to the Save page button) to see in advance what your edits will look like. This lets you check your work periodically without filling up the page history by making lots of smaller edits. The preview function can also help you avoid mistakes, such as when using an unfamiliar type of wiki markup. The preview will appear together with the edit box you have been working in (either above or below it, however you prefer).

More info: Wikipedia:How to edit a page

In the right place[edit]

When adding material to an article that is not part of the text itself, be careful where you place it. Take a look at the picture tutorial for ideas on how to place images. Template messages vary in their placement; for example, a {{merge}} notice goes at the top of the article, but the {{stub}} message goes at the bottom. An External links section, if any, should be at the end of the article. Category tags and interlanguage links should go last of all, so that someone who opens the edit window can see the start of the article without scrolling.

More info: Wikipedia:Manual of Style

Starting from scratch[edit]

If you're thinking about writing a new article from scratch, please do a search first to make sure you aren't creating a duplicate of an article that already exists. Following our naming conventions can help avoid this problem. The easiest way to start a new article is to follow an existing link to a page that doesn't exist yet. Depending on your settings, these links may show up as red links or have a question mark at the end of the link (red links?). You can also create a page by typing the URL into your browser directly.

More info: Help:Starting a new page

Moving right along[edit]

If the title of an article does not follow Wikipedia's naming conventions, or it has simply been misspelled, you can fix this with a page move. This creates a redirect at the old location, so please fix any double redirects that result. The talk page, if any, will normally be moved as well. However, a page move is not possible if a page already exists at the desired destination. If you have this problem, please do not simply cut and paste the content to the new location (otherwise we lose the edit history, which is included in a page move). Instead, please contact an administrator, so they can merge the page histories.

More info: Help:Renaming (moving) a page

Back and forth between languages[edit]

Do you know any languages other than English? If so, you can also contribute to the Wikipedia in those languages, or translate articles from that Wikipedia into the English Wikipedia. Don't forget to include an interlanguage link when you translate a new article. To help coordinate with other language Wikipedias, you can join the Wikipedia Embassy. Also, check out how other languages are doing with our multilingual statistics.

More info: Wikipedia:Multilingual coordination

Cite your sources[edit]

Wikipedia articles should focus on describing facts in a neutral fashion. When writing about facts, cite sources that can verify the information being presented. Stick to a factual style even when writing about fiction or opinions. Providing references is particularly important for controversial opinions - instead of using weasel words like some people believe... you should cite sources to help readers know who believes what, and why.

More info: Wikipedia:Check your facts

Keeping track of time[edit]

Wikipedia's servers record activity based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC for short). You can set your user preferences to display time for the time zone you are in. If you do this, Wikipedia will show all times in Recent changes, page histories, and contribution histories based on your local time zone. However, when you sign a talk page with ~~~~, the timestamp is created in text, so it has to be displayed in UTC. Automated logs such as image file uploads are also shown in server time.

Firefox users can use the FoxClocks extension to display UTC/Wikipedia time in the status bar or toolbar of the browser.

More info: MediaWiki User's Guide:Setting preferences

Summarizing your work[edit]

If you make anything other than a minor edit to an article, it helps to use the edit summary. Edit summaries are visible in the page history, watchlists, and on Recent changes, so they help other users keep track of what's happening to a page. If you use section editing, the summary box is filled in with the section heading by default (in gray text). You can also put links to articles in the edit summary - just put double brackets around [[the article title]] like you would normally. The summary is limited to 200 characters, so many people use common abbreviations, such as sp for correcting spelling mistakes.

More info: MediaWiki User's Guide:Edit summary

Working on the main page[edit]

The Main Page is our gateway to the encyclopedia - no doubt you've seen it by now, as it's our most frequently visited page. The main page is protected and can only be edited by admins, but most of the content is part of different templates. Anybody can edit these templates, and we encourage you to help. The current events items and the "Did you know..." section about new articles need regular updates to keep them fresh. The featured article and anniversaries get rotated every day. Just remember to follow the guidelines, as the procedure for each template works a little differently.

More info: Wikipedia:Editing the main page

What the world knows about us[edit]

Curious about how the rest of the world sees Wikipedia? The project is frequently discussed in publications in many languages - take a look at our press coverage. Wikipedia also gets used as a source in the press, in books, in academic studies, and even in court. To give you an idea of how Wikipedia stacks up compared to the rest of the Internet, check out statistics from Alexa traffic measurements, Usenet posts, and Google's news and answers services.

More info: Wikipedia:Wikipedia in the media

Where to get help[edit]

Looking for help? The best place to look depends on what kind of help you need. If you're doing research and need to know where to find a particular piece of information, or just want the answer to a trivia question, try Wikipedia:Reference desk. Are you a contributor who wants to get help with the editing process and understanding Wikipedia's policies? If so, ask a question at Wikipedia:Help desk. For technical problems, you can submit a bug report to the Wikipedia project site at SourceForge. You can also discuss technical issues at Wikipedia:Village pump, which is a place for general discussion where people can often answer questions. The village pump is a metaphor for a community watering hole where lots of people gather to discuss things.

More info: Wikipedia:Village pump

Inclusion vs Transclusion[edit]

If you're listing a page as a stub, a disambiguation page, with a spoiler warning, or some other long-term notice, use {{stub}}, {{disambig}}, {{spoiler}}, or another appropriate template. However, if you want to list a page for Votes for Deletion or use a boilerplate test message such as {{test}}, you should use {{subst:VFD}} and {{subst:test}} instead. This is called "transclusion", and it will actually include the message in the text of the page when you save it, instead of linking to it each time. This is the preferred method for short-term, non-permanent notices such as these, as it is less confusing, and even helps to lighten the load on the database.

More info: Wikipedia:Glossary#Transclusion

The Template namespace[edit]

A page in the Template:-namespace can be included on another page using the syntax {{Page name}} (this may include spaces and all other title characters). On Wikipedia, this is used for a variety of purposes, such as navigation boxes (e.g. Template:Europe) or notices (e.g. Template:Controversial). Templates support parameters. For example, a country box template could include the text {{{Population}}} (note the three braces). These parameters can then be substituted with specific values, e.g. {{Country| Name=Germany| Population=82,544,000| Flag=Germany_flag_large.png}}. Experiment with the syntax and report bugs at SourceForge.

More info: Wikipedia:Namespace

Categorizing content[edit]

Our wiki software, MediaWiki, supports basic categorization of articles. To add an article to a particular category, add the text [[Category:Category name]] to the text (preferably at the bottom). The assigned category should now show up at the bottom of the article. Clicking the name of the category will reveal the editable category page, containing an introduction, a list of subcategories and of course the articles in that category. To create subcategories, add a category tag to a category page, e.g. add the text [[Category:Animals]] to the page [[Category:Dogs]]. If you want to link to a category, use the syntax [[:Category:Category name]], e.g. Category:Films.

More info: Wikipedia:Categorization, Meta:MediaWiki User's Guide: Using Categories

Staying up to date[edit]

Wikipedia and its sister projects are organized in the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikimedia-wide issues can be discussed either on Meta-Wiki or on the foundation-l mailing list. If you ever want to bring an issue to the attention of the entire Wikimedia community, the foundation list is the best medium for doing so. But please use project-specific mailing lists for issues which concern just one project. You don't have to subscribe to keep up to date on current community happenings - The Wikipedia Signpost, and the Goings-on pages here and on Meta, provide a weekly digest.

More info: Wikipedia:Mailing lists

To serve and to protect[edit]

Among other things, administrators can protect pages from editing using the link "Protect this page" in the sidebar. This happens when a page has been the subject of an edit war or is the target of repeated vandalism, perhaps as the result of a Slashdot effect. Admins have no special rights over Wikipedia content and policy states they should not protect pages in which they are personally involved. Admins only edit protected pages when absolutely necessary. An exception is the Main Page, which is permanently protected because it is a highly exposed target. On protected pages, non-administrators see a "view source" link in place of "edit this page", allowing them to see and copy the wikitext.

More info: Wikipedia:Protected page

Manufacturing consent[edit]

When working on an article, please strive for consensus with other contributors. While maintaining neutrality and factual accuracy is essential, there are often ways to accommodate others without sacrificing either. Try to find out what it is that the other side wants, and try to find a solution that is mutually acceptable. When both parties are slightly unhappy with the outcome, that is in fact often an indication that a compromise has been reached. You can start non-binding polls if you want, but you should only call for a binding vote on a matter when other dispute resolution methods have failed, and you should seek consensus among the contributors first that such a vote is acceptable.

Remember to be nice[edit]

Remember to be nice by not being abusive or unkind. And please don't vandalise; remember, it takes Wikipedia some extra time to clean it up, Which means some of us may not be able to get the information at the time.

Read more at:wikipedia:policies and guidelines

Taking the lead[edit]

The lead section is the text before the first heading (== this is a heading ==). It is a very important part of every article. The length should correspond to the overall length of the article: an article of 50,000 characters might well have a three paragraph lead, while one of 15,000 or less should limit itself to one or two paragraphs. It's often a good idea to align a representative image with the lead (place [[Image:Filename.jpg|thumb]] above the text). The text itself should give a good overview of the article, but it should also get the reader hooked and interested in learning more. Take a look at some featured articles to get inspirations.

More info: Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles#Lead section

Brilliant pictures[edit]

Example photograph

You've probably heard about Wikipedia:Featured article candidates, where articles can be nominated to be included on Wikipedia:Featured articles. But did you know that a similar process exists for images? Go to Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates and see if one of the images there strikes your fancy. The winners can of course be found on Wikipedia:Featured pictures. Many of these photos are taken by Wikipedians. If you are a photographer, you can add yourself to the list. And like our textual content, these photos are free -- feel free to use them in your own works (according to the terms on the image description page).

More info: Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates

Smart sigs[edit]

While your username is fixed after you have signed up and changing it is difficult, you can set an alternative nickname in your user preferences. This name is used for your signature, which you can enter by typing ~~~, or ~~~~ to get an additional timestamp. So if your username is "Klaus Meier", you could sign with "Klausi" by entering this into the nickname field. The software adds [[User:Name| to the beginning of the nickname, and ]] to the end, so this would become [[User:Klaus Meier|Klausi]]. By entering something like Klaus Meier]] [[User talk:Klaus Meier|(talk), you can "trick" the software into adding another link at the end, in this case, to the talk page, which will look like this: Klaus Meier (talk).

More info: Setting your user preferences

World of fiction[edit]

Our culture is full of fiction, entire fictional universes inhabited by millions of fictional characters. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that seeks to describe facts and opinions about reality. When writing about fiction, please be sure to establish the necessary context for the reader, so that it is clear that the article describes a fictional entity from a specific work. It is also often a good idea to combine many minor fictional characters or places into a single article about the fictional realm in question, especially when there is only a very limited amount that could be said about each of them.

More info: Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles#Check your fiction

When to use subpages[edit]

Subpages are pages which are separated with a "/" from their mother page, for example, User:Eloquence/Favorite Wikipedia quotes. When you visit a subpage you will see an automatic backlink to the mother page. Subpages are allowed only in the User:, Talk: and Wikipedia: namespaces. They are not enabled in the article namespaces, because many articles might qualify as subpages of more than one page (instead, follow our naming conventions and include links to related subjects in the text). Subpages can be useful for organizing and archiving content. You can create a subpage by typing [[/Name]] on the page in question, and if you end the link with a slash - [[/Name/]] - the slashes are hidden in the output.

More info: Wikipedia:Subpages

No copies of primary sources[edit]

While using a public domain work as a basis for a Wikipedia article is often a good idea (see Wikipedia:Public domain resources for a selection), please do not include large source documents in articles. We try to collect free (public domain or copyleft) source documents in a single place, Wikisource, where they can be annotated and translated. This reduces duplication across wikis, and frees source documents from the context of a single article. Wikipedia articles should generally only include content which is open to merciless editing, with the exception of a few relevant quotes. Even long quotation sections should better be moved to Wikiquote.

More info: Wikipedia:Don't include copies of primary sources

Accuracy and peer review[edit]

We strive to make Wikipedia as accurate as possible. If you see something that you know is wrong, be bold and fix it. If you see something that seems wrong, leave a note on the talk page and remove questionable assertions if no supporting evidence is provided. Peer review happens constantly through the Recent Changes page and watchlists, but it can also be solicited on Wikipedia:Peer review or, if you think that an article is really good, by nominating it on Wikipedia:Featured article candidates. More sophisticated approval mechanisms are under constant discussion. Regardless, we do not guarantee accuracy and have a variety of other disclaimers. These are linked from every page, so please do not add disclaimers to articles!

More info: Wikipedia:Replies to common objections

Power tools[edit]

You can enrich your editing experience by enabling options like the enhanced recent changes, the editing toolbar, double click editing or right click section editing in your user preferences (cf. Wikipedia:Browser notes for issues with certain web browsers). But power users will want to use external tools as well. A good text editor like vi, TextPad or Kate (part of KDE) is a lot more fun to work with than the browser's internal one. If you use Mozilla, you can call your favorite editor with a single click from the editing screen by using the Mozex extension. For jEdit [1] there is even a Wikipedia plug-in [2], which enables you to log in and load and save articles without having to use your browser at all. For images, there are free tools like GIMP and ImageMagick, and commercial ones like Photoshop that provide a variety of processing filters. There are also free and commercial digital audio editors.

Dynamic date conversion[edit]

Every year and every day of recorded history (according to the Gregorian calendar) has a page on Wikipedia. The year pages (e.g. 2004) record all events in a year chronologically, while the day pages (April 25) record all events that happened on that day, in any year. Some months have their own pages (e.g. January 2004), these are mostly the archived current events. If there are links around the day and year -- April 25, 2004 -- the software will automatically convert this date based on your user preferences to your preferred format. This is why all dates should be wikilinked, even if the links will be redundant.

More info: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)

Soft and hard breaks[edit]

When you edit a page, you can create paragraphs the way you would do in any word processor -- by pressing the "Enter" key twice. Single line breaks in the article source should be avoided except for lists and for structuring HTML code. While single line breaks have few effects on article display, they do reduce the amount of context information shown in "diff" comparison views between two revisions. If you want to create a single line break in the rendered page, you can use the <br> HTML tag (it has no closing tag). Its use should be reserved for very few special cases, particularly tables and complex layouts. Do not use it within normal prose, where it hampers readability.

More info: Wikipedia:Do not use line breaks

Free speech and profanity[edit]

Sometimes the question is posed whether Wikipedia allows "free speech". Our primary goal is to build an encyclopedia. Freedom of expression is valued, but only to the extent that it does not get in the way of that goal. The policies that regulate the space outside articles are therefore much more strict than the ones which regulate articles themselves. We have many articles about profane and sexual subjects - fuck, fisting, motherfucker, etc. - but if you were to randomly put profanities on discussion pages, a quick ban might follow. This is especially true for usernames as these show up in many places where people don't want to be bothered by profanity (see Wikipedia:No offensive usernames). Repeated off-topic comments on article talk pages may also constitute a breach of policy.

More info: Wikipedia:Profanity

Web links[edit]

While Wikipedia is not a web directory, we do allow external links where appropriate. They are generally listed under a == level 2 headline == called "External links" (or "External link" if there is just one). The best way to create such a link is to type [URL link title], for example, [ Wikibooks], which becomes Wikibooks. However, such short link titles are generally frowned upon. Try to describe your links, so that the reader has a pretty good idea where it will take them before clicking it. Don't use external links where we'll want Wikipedia links, for example, in an article about Wikimedia, a link to Wikibooks (the Wikipedia article about the project) would be more appropriate than a direct link to

More info: Wikipedia:External links

Testing MediaWiki[edit]

The MediaWiki software which runs Wikipedia is under constant development. Want to see the latest, greatest features? Then head over to, where the development branch is tested. But be careful: That wiki runs in debugging mode, so even the smallest problem in the code may cause it to spew out error messages. Take a look at the list of features under development in the MediaWiki roadmap. MediaWiki is already one of the most feature-rich wiki engines; see the current feature list. MediaWiki and its dependencies are open source, so if you are the inquisitive type, please take a look at the code and help us to improve it.

More info:

Collaborative research[edit]

A good article is built on solid research (remember to cite your sources). Contrary to popular belief, not all information is available for free on the Internet. Some research is only published in scientific journals and books (ask your library for remote lending services), some material is available only in commercial, password-protected electronic databases. If you have easy access to useful research material, please add the relevant information to Wikipedia:Research resources, a central portal to find Wikipedians who may have access to any particular resource. Always remember that we can only use facts from such sources, not a particular copyrighted expression thereof.

More info: Wikipedia:Research resources

William Shatner, picking his nose[edit]

Wikipedia is not limited in the topics it covers. In which other encyclopedia do you find a list of sex positions, an article about nose picking or one about William Shatner's version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds? As long as an article is verifiable, informative and neutral, it has a pretty good chance of being acceptable (see Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not for some other common rules). We strive to collect the sum of human knowledge, some of which may be trivial, but which is nevertheless part of our culture and our history. Wiki is not paper - we need not worry about space constraints.

More info: Wikipedia:Unusual articles

Finding stubs and making them grow[edit]

A stub is an article which provides at least a basic definition but does not go much beyond it. It may not be the perfect article yet, but the perfect stub should have the potential to become one. See Wikipedia:Find or fix a stub for ways to locate stubs; for example, click "What links here" on that same page, or on Template:Stub (the stub notice). Still not enough stubs? Then try Wikipedia:Requests for page expansion, or set the "threshold for stub display" in your user prefs. That option is a numerical value, links to articles with less characters are shown in dark red. This makes it very easy to spot stubs wherever you ara.

More info: Wikipedia:Stub

Tuning your edit window[edit]

Is your edit window too large and you cannot reach the "preview" and "save" buttons without scrolling? Try reducing the number of rows of the window in your user preferences. Disabling the edit toolbar should also save some screen real estate. Alternatively, in a modern browser, try hitting "ALT+P" for Preview and "ALT+S" for save. If you think the edit window is not using enough of your screen, try setting the option "Edit box has full width". Be warned, however, that the human eye has a harder time tracing long lines than short ones - you risk getting confused.

More info: User Guide: Preferences

Squashing bugs and asking for features[edit]

MediaWiki, the software which runs Wikipedia, is hosted by SourceForge. The right place to support problems with the software ("bugs"), or to request new features, is the SourceForge project site, not Wikipedia. Before you submit a bug report or a feature request, check for duplicates [3], [4]. If you have broader visions for MediaWiki, Meta-Wikipedia is a good place to work on proposals, and the wikitech-l mailing list is where you can announce and discuss them.

More info: MediaWiki project homepage

Skins and browsers[edit]

Wikipedia should work in any web browser. However, depending on the layout of an individual page and on the skin you have set in your user preferences, a page layout may be broken in your browser. If the problem occurs just on a single page, edit the page and try to figure out what's going on, so you can fix it yourself - if you can't, put a message on the talk page (a screenshot always helps!). If the problem occurs on all pages, try to choose a different skin. "Nostalgia" should work even in ancient browsers. There may be some minor issues with your browser, these are enumerated on Wikipedia:Browser notes.

More info: Setting your preferences

Search and go[edit]

There are two ways to search Wikipedia, the full-text search and the Go button. As of April 2004, the full-text search is disabled for performance reasons. When you click the "Search" button, you can search Wikipedia using Google or Yahoo! instead. The search is limited in both cases to Wikipedia pages. The Go button, however, is always enabled. It looks for an exact match of the title you enter. If it does not find one, it tries a few capitalization variants before it gives up. If you enter a phrase with mixed capitalization, the Go button may not find it unless you enter the title exactly as it appears.

More info: Wikipedia:Go button

Undoing edits[edit]

Anyone can revert a page to fix vandalism. All revisions of a page back to the first one are stored in the page history. To revert to an earlier version, just select it from the history, edit and save it. When not dealing with obvious vandalism, reverting is often a bad strategy. It alienates other users and provokes edit wars. Stay cool, talk to the user in question directly, or try to resolve issues on the talk page. Please do not revert the same page more than three times within 24 hours; doing so can lead to a temporary ban against you. Admins have a handy "rollback" feature which allows them to instant-revert changes from a user's contributions page; this, too, is primarily intended to deal with vandalism.

Of bots and men[edit]

Uploading hundreds of files or changing thousands of pages can be tedious. We allow limited automation unless it interferes with normal systems operations. You can always grab your favorite scripting language and write a bot, but there's no need to reinvent the wheel: take a look at PyWikipediaBot, a quite complex automation framework for Wikipedia. If you are more into Perl, libwww-perl is a very useful library for automating web tasks. If you have tested your bot and intend to run it over a longer period of time, please get in touch with the developers first (preferably using the wikitech-l mailing list). We can then register your bot, so it can be hidden from the list of recent changes.

More info: Wikipedia:Bots

Not everything that's true is also verifiable[edit]

One of the most important criteria for inclusion of articles in Wikipedia is verifiability. Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research; we regurgitate, summarize and structure knowledge that has already been published in many forms. A fun fact from your personal family history may be interesting, but is it verifiable by anyone without excessive amounts of research? This also touches the realm of auto-biography. As a general rule, we propose that you do not create articles about yourself, but you may contribute to them if they are created by others and have passed our criteria for inclusion. Even if an article is verifiable and not auto-biographic, many people feel that it should not be included if it is not informative; that is, if it contains only information that is blatantly obvious to even the least informed reader.

More info: Wikipedia:Verifiability

Editing in style[edit]

Wikipedia articles are formatted according to the Manual of Style, which sets some standards for link formatting (list external links in their own section at the bottom of an article), capitalization (do not capitalize all words in section headings), punctuation (remember the serial comma), sections (an informative lead section is important), and other minute stylistic details. There are separate guidelines for biographies, citations, titles, dates and numbers, and proper names. The naming conventions set standards for titling articles — perhaps most important: do not capitalize all words and use singular wherever possible. You don't have to remember all these rules and recommendations, but please do not be alarmed if others edit your writing accordingly.

More info: Wikipedia:Manual of Style

User contributions[edit]

If you click on a user's name, you can view their user page. If the user exists, there should be a "User contributions" link in the sidebar. This link will show you all the edits that user has ever made, up to 500 per page. Edits with a "top" link are the most recent ones to that particular article. If you click the link you will see exactly which changes the user has made. This is useful for tracking vandalism in progress. The "hist" link will show the history of the page. You have your own contributions list, which is particularly useful for tracking your conversations on talk pages. If you are logged in, you can access the list from the "My contributions" link in the sidebar.

Current events in the world around us[edit]

The page current events is used to describe world-wide events of note, not just in politics, but also in science, culture, technology, sports, entertainment and many other areas. If you want to contribute an event of significance, please remember to always cite a reputable source that documents it, as Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research. The information in question should also be added to any relevant articles. Events are generally described in the present tense. If there is a sufficiently developed Wikipedia article about the event, you may also want to feature it on the Main Page.

More info: Current events

Meet the Wikimedia family[edit]

Wikipedia is one of several projects organized under the Wikimedia non-profit foundation. There is also Wikibooks, an attempt to collaboratively write and collect textbooks, how-tos and manuals. If you feel the urge to define words rather than explain them, you may want to take a look at Wiktionary, which defines words from many languages in English. While Wikipedia is not a place to post source materials, Wikisource is a repository for free text documents. Last but not least, Wikiquote is a collection of quotes organized in many categories. You can promote development of all these projects by donating money to the Wikimedia foundation.

More info: Wikipedia#Sister projects

MediaWiki, an open source wiki engine[edit]

Wikipedia runs on the basis of a custom-tailored software called MediaWiki. Like the Wikipedia content, the MediaWiki source code is copyleft, meaning that it can be freely copied and modified if changes are also made available under these terms. Download MediaWiki to run your own wiki and join the many others who already do, and help us in improving the software by becoming a MediaWiki hacker . You can also submit feature requests, but please check for duplicates first, and take a look the experimental wiki to make sure the developers aren't already ahead of you!

More info: Wikipedia:MediaWiki

Creating aliases with redirects[edit]

Many articles can appear under multiple titles. For example, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom also appears under the titles Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth II of England, and even Queen of Australia. This is done using so-called redirects. Any page that contains only the content #REDIRECT [[target page]] (and nothing else) is treated as a redirect, and if you click on such a page, you are automatically put on [[target page]]. Do not create redirects when you want to rename a page, because then the history of the page resides at the old title. Use the page move feature instead, which also moves the history.

More info: Wikipedia:Redirect

Being nice and neutral[edit]

While Wikipedia might look like pure anarchy, we actually have quite a few policies and guidelines. Central among them is Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, which most of all dictates that controversial views must be attributed. If you want to see what this means in practice, take a look at the NPOV tutorial. Another policy we value highly is Wikiquette - you don't have to be nice to everyone, all of the time, but we appreciate it if you try. Repeated personal attacks have even resulted in bans, but we try to resolve disputes before we resort to such measures.

More info: Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines

Wikipedia in other languages[edit]

There are Wikipedias in every world language. They reside at, e.g. for German and for English. You can link an article to a translation in another language by adding the text [[language_prefix:Article title]]; this interlanguage link will be shown at the top and bottom of the page. Wikis for languages with few Internet-connected speakers like Nepali [5] or Yoruba [6] are still in their infant state. If you want to create a new language in Wikipedia, pick it from the complete list of language wikis available and start working!

More info: Wikipedia:Multilingual coordination

Copyrights? Copyleft![edit]

Wikipedia articles can be copied and modified by anyone, but there's a catch: All modifications have to be made available under the same conditions, and credit has to be given to the original authors. These are the key terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, under which our article text is licensed. There are various mirrors and forks which use our content, and you can download our entire database to become one of them. But please only add content which you have created, or which you have been permitted to use under our terms. Everything is copyrighted by default, even if it does not have a notice to that effect!

More info: Wikipedia:Copyrights

Analyzing Wikipedia[edit]

You might think that a project which has created more than 500,000 articles in 50 languages in just a little over three years hasn't had much time for reflection, but you'd be wrong. In fact, there is an entire wiki devoted to that purpose, the Meta-Wikipedia, and if you prefer hard data, pay a visit to Erik Zachte's collection of Wikistats -- whether you want to find out the names of the most active Wikipedians of the past or present, the average article length on the Vietnamese Wikipedia (3,784 bytes), or the language with the most edits per article (it's not English), you'll be amazed what a single Perl script can do with our database dumps.

Becoming a gardener[edit]

Any user can become an administrator (AKA "sysop"). Admins have no special rights over the content of Wikipedia, they are like community gardeners. An admin can delete pages (in accordance with Wikipedia:Deletion policy), protect them (in accordance with Wikipedia:Protection policy), and block vandals (see Wikipedia:Vandalism in progress). All of these actions can be undone by any sysop. If you have been active on Wikipedia for some time (three months is a good guideline), apply for adminship today if you want to help with the housekeeping.

More info: Wikipedia:Administrators

What's the difference?[edit]

Article revision selection
Differences between two revisions
...and compare!

In the page history for any page, just click two checkboxes to select the revisions which you want to compare (this only works if JavaScript is enabled). You should be presented with a screen which shows you which words have been removed and which ones have been added (affected words are highlighted in red). You can always revert to an earlier revision by selecting it from the history, editing and saving it.

More info: Wikipedia:Page history

Shared visions[edit]

Wikipedia always needs free images! If you have a collection of photos which you have shot yourself, please look through it and see if there are articles which might benefit from one of them. If you own a camera, look for targets in your area. Maybe there is a picture request which you could fulfill? If you are an artist or a photographer, consider joining the WikiProject Illustration to collaborate with others. Please upload any public domain images of interest - see Wikipedia:Public domain resources and related - but let's try to keep fair use at a minimum.

More info: Wikipedia:Image use policy

Same titles, different meanings[edit]

To distinguish between pages that would otherwise have the exact same title, disambiguation is needed. Unless one meaning clearly dominates, the article should be replaced with a disambiguation page, e.g. Pan, which links to the different meanings with a qualifier in parentheses, e.g. Pan (mythology) vs. Pan (moon), or using a more specific natural name, e.g. cooking pan. If there is one dominant meaning, (cat), add a link to a disambiguation page - cat (disambiguation) - or to the secondary meaning if there is only one, on top of the article.

More info: Wikipedia:Disambiguation

Finding and summarizing knowledge[edit]

Wikipedia is not Google Answers, but if you have a general question -- why is the sky blue? -- and you cannot find a Wikipedia article which answers it, you can ask it on Wikipedia:Reference desk. If it turns out that no article on the subject exists, you can request one to be written at Wikipedia:Requested articles. And for good karma, you could write a summary of an important document: Wikipedia:Requests for summaries has links to online reports and studies of various kinds.

More info: Wikipedia:Utilities

Interwiki and interlanguage links[edit]

You know normal links -- they look [[like this]]. But did you know that you can easily link to pages on any other wiki? This is called InterWiki linking. You can link to a page on MeatballWiki by typing [[MeatBall:PageName]], for example. See a list of these wikis. An exception to this method are pages on Wikipedias in other languages. You can link to these by typing, for example, [[:de:Hauptseite]] (replace "de" with language prefix). The colon at the beginning prevents the link from becoming an interlanguage link, which is shown in the "Other languages" line of every page.

More info: InterWiki

Special pages[edit]

There are a few so-called "special pages". Most of them show the properties of and the relationships between articles. Special:Newpages gives you a list of all recently created articles, which is useful to spot newbie experiments. Special:Ancientpages is the exact opposite -- it lists the oldest pages in the wiki. Many of them need work. Some of the special pages are only generated intermittently for performance reasons. Two useful ones are Wikipedia:Most wanted stubs and Wikipedia:Most wanted articles.

Mailing lists[edit]

Can't get enough of Wikipedia? Then join our mailing lists! A mailing list is a shared address for a list of recipients. Anyone subscribed to the list can send e-mail to that address and thereby reach all other subscribers. This is a convenient way to discuss complex issues with multiple people. There is a WikiEN-l list which is used for discussing policies and current issues related to the English Wikipedia, and there's Wikipedia-l for language-independent discussions. If you want to help developing MediaWiki, join Wikitech-l and share your ideas.

More info: Wikipedia:Mailing lists

Tricks with pipes[edit]

A pipe (|) at the end of the link to a page in a non-article namespace will hide the namespace prefix ("Talk:", "Wikipedia:" etc.) from the visible link. Example: [[Wikipedia:About|]] is converted to [[Wikipedia:About|About]], which is shown as About. This is known as the "pipe trick". There is another pipe trick that is useful for disambiguation: [[Lord of the Rings (movie)|]] becomes [[Lord of the Rings (movie)|Lord of the Rings]], which is shown as Lord of the Rings (the part in parentheses is hidden).

More info: Wikipedia:How to edit a page

RC on steroids[edit]

Have you tried the option "Enhanced recent changes" in your user preferences already? It requires a modern browser to work and is disabled by default. Unlike the normal "recent changes" page, this one summarizes edits to the same page and lets you dynamically expand and collapse the list items. For multiple edits to the same page, it also provides a single "changes" link which will show you a view of the differences between these combined edits and the last non-recent revision.

Using your watchlist[edit]

If you are logged in, you can make use of the watchlist to keep track of changes to the articles you work on. You can add an article to your watchlist by clicking "Watch this page" when viewing it, or marking the "Watch this page" checkbox when editing it. There is an option to watch all your edits by default in the user preferences. Once you have set up your list, click the "My watchlist" link to show changes to the articles on it.

More info: Wikipedia:Watchlist help

Best of Wikipedia[edit]

Have you ever seen a Wikipedia article and thought to yourself: "This is really well written, and as far as I can tell, 100% correct"? Have you ever wondered whether there is a way to solicit feedback on an article you have worked on very hard, and which you think meets the highest standards we can hope for? Then you should take a look at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates. Articles which meet general community approval are listed on Wikipedia:Featured articles, and one of them is presented on the Main Page every day.

More info: Wikipedia:Featured article candidates

Playing with pictures[edit]

To embed an image into a page, type [[Image:Name.jpg|label]] where you want the picture. You can add various options separated with a "|" after the image name. For example, [[Image:Name.jpg|thumb|A caption]] will automatically generate a right-aligned thumbnail of the image with a width of 180 pixels and the caption "A caption", and [[Image:Name.jpg|left|label]] will produce a left-aligned full size version.

More info: Wikipedia:Extended image syntax

Changes in real-time[edit]

When you click the recent changes link, you get a protocol of recent modifications to wiki pages. One neat feature of that page is the "Show new changes starting from" link. If you keep a browser tab open on the Recent Changes page, you can use it to regularly fetch a list of changes that you haven't seen yet. If you are into IRC, join the channel #enrc.wikipedia on to get a list of recent changes in realtime.

More info: Wikipedia:Recent Changes, Wikipedia:IRC channels

Section editing[edit]

If you have created an account, you may notice little "[edit]" links on some pages. An [edit] link is shown for every heading on a page. You can create a level 2 heading by typing ==Headline==, a level 3 heading by typing ===Headline===, and so on. The [edit] link lets you edit only the text that is below this heading and above the next one. This is especially useful for long talk pages. If you don't like the [edit] links, you can turn them off in your preferences. If you use a modern browser, you can also enable the option "Enable section editing by right clicking on section titles" instead of, or in addition to, "Enable section editing via [edit] links".

More info: Wikipedia:Section

Table of contents[edit]

Any article with more than three headings automatically gets a table of contents. The TOC is placed above the first section heading. All text above the first section heading is commonly referred to as the introduction. The introduction should not exceed one or two paragraphs in length and should summarize the article's key points.

If you do not like the TOC placement in an article, just add another section heading right after the intro. A common title for the first section is "Overview". If you do not want a TOC on a particular page, add the text __NOTOC__ anywhere on the page; if you, personally, do not like the TOC feature, you can disable it in your user preferences.

More info: Wikipedia:Section

Talking to Wikipedians[edit]

Besides the Village pump and article-related talk pages, there are other ways to talk to Wikipedians. Have you tried sending an instant message to a Wikipedian? The English IRC channel is also quite busy, regularly reaching 60 to 70 people. If you care about our policies and general Wikimedia-related matters, you may want to consider subscribing to one of the mailing lists (high traffic!).

More info: Wikipedia:Contact us

Watching for changes[edit]

Clicking the "Recent changes" link at the top of every page will give you a list of all edits in the last few minutes. If you just want to watch for changes to articles you have edited, use your watchlist. You can add articles to it by clicking "Watch this page" on any article (the talk page will be auto-watched, too). You can click "Related changes" on any page to see changes made to the pages linked from the one you are viewing. And finally, you can click the "My contributions" link to view a log of your edits; if yours is no longer the edit marked with "top", then someone else has edited the page.

More info: Wikipedia:Watchlist help, Wikipedia:Recent Changes, Wikipedia:User contributions

User pages[edit]

Any registered user on Wikipedia can create a page about themselves. To create an account, all you have to do is click on the "Log in" link, enter a username, a password (twice), and click on "Create an account". While you are logged in, your name appears in the upper right corner of the screen; click on the name and then click "Edit this page" to edit your user page. Tell us about yourself and your motivation to participate in this project. Other users can leave comments on your talk page. For experiments and personal projects, you can also create subpages on your user page.

More info: Wikipedia:User page

Signing comments[edit]

When you are discussing something on a Talk page, you can sign your comment by adding three tildes (~~~) at the end. After you save the page, this will be converted to your username. If you write four tildes instead of three (~~~~), a timestamp (date and time) will also be added at the end. We recommend that you always sign your posts on talk pages, to avoid confusion with other people's comments. This method of signing can also be used to vote in polls. Note that you have to be logged in to sign with a username.

More info: Wikipedia:Talk page


Pages on Wikipedia can have the same names, but different namespaces. A namespace is a prefix in front of the name. A name with no prefix is in the (default) article namespace. Pages in that namespace have a white background. All other pages have a yellowish background and are "community pages". For instance, the "Talk:" prefix is for pages discussing articles; the "Wikipedia:" prefix is for pages about Wikipedia's policies, FAQs, etc.

More info: Wikipedia:Namespaces

Page history[edit]

In order to compare the differences between two revisions of an article, click "Page history" on the article page, then select two checkboxes to mark the revisions which you want to compare. Alternatively, click the "cur" link to see the differences between a revision and the current (most up-to-date) revision, or the "last" link to see the differences between a revision and the previous one.

More information: Wikipedia:Page history