Wikipedia:Who writes Wikipedia?

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A short video about that "Edit" button and what it can do when you are bold! (1:06 min)

You do! Yes, anyone can be bold and edit an existing article or create a new one, and volunteers do not need to have any formal training. The people who create and edit articles in Wikipedia come from many countries, with individuals who bringing something different to the table, whether it be: researching skills, technical expertise, writing prowess or organisational skills, but most importantly a willingness to help. Any contributor to this encyclopedia, unregistered and registered alike, is called a "Wikipedian", or, more formally, an "editor". Almost all Wikipedians are volunteers. With the increased maturity and visibility of Wikipedia, other categories of Wikipedians have emerged, such as Wikipedians in residence and students with assignments related to editing Wikipedia.

Who does contribute to Wikipedia?

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The 2013 study The Wikipedia Gender Gap Revisited measured gender bias in survey completion and estimated that as of 2008, 84% of English Wikipedia editors were male. In the worldwide Wikipedia Editor Survey 2011 of all the Wikipedias, 91% of respondents were male.
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Most editors (20%) reside in the United States, followed by Germany (12%) and Russia (7%). The only country not in Europe or North America in the top 10, is India (3%).
Age distribution
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13% of editors are under 17.
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14% are in the group 18–21.
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26% are 22–29.
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19% are 30–39.
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28% editors are aged 40+.
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59% of the editors are aged 17 to 40.

The English Wikipedia currently has 29,180,943 users who have registered a username. An unknown but relatively large number of unregistered Wikipedians also contribute to the site. About 250,000 new accounts are created every month. About 300,000 editors have edited Wikipedia more than 10 times. 120,758 have performed an edit within the last 30 days. Contributions come from diverse demographic and ethnographic segments:

  • mid-20s males and retired males - are the largest demographics
  • ~10% women of various ages
  • students (e.g., in the context of a course)
  • enthusiasts (e.g., people with interest in a particular subject, like butterflies)
  • insiders (e.g., people who work for an organization, such as the Sierra Club)
  • dabblers (e.g., people who see some problem with an article and want to help)
  • scholars (e.g., researchers who want to use Wikipedia as an additional dissemination platform)
  • archives (e.g., a museum, archive or library wanting to contribute artifacts, like 18th century paintings)
  • marketers (e.g., individuals, staff, members, or a PR firm seeking to promote a product, service or brand)
  • evildoers (e.g., spammers, vandals).

How do editors contribute to Wikipedia?

The content of any particular article is subject to editorial discretion developed via consensus. Wikipedia is not paper, which means we can write almost an unlimited amount on any topic. Still, there are limits on what we ought to include, and especially how we ought to write it. When an article is incomplete or inaccurate, you can edit the article to be more accurate and/or useful. Someone may place a notice at the top of the article indicating that it needs to be cleaned up. It is also possible to create a new article to share information that is not yet in Wikipedia.

The way to decide whether a particular statement is accurate is to find independent reliable sources to affirm that statement, such as books, magazine articles, television news stories, trade journals, or other websites. For more guidance on evaluating the accuracy of Wikipedia articles, see Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia. It is Wikipedia's policy to add to the encyclopedia only statements that are verifiable, and not to add original research. The Wikipedia style guide encourages editors to cite sources. Detailed citations allow readers of the article to easily verify the content in question.

When a large group of people work to compile information on a given topic, disputes may arise. A useful feature of Wikipedia is the ability to tag an article, or a section of the article, as subject of a dispute about a neutral point of view. This feature is especially popular for controversial topics, topics subject to changing current events or other topics where divergent opinions exist. To resolve the dispute, the interested editors will share their points of view on the article's talk page. They will attempt to reach consensus so that all valid perspectives can be fairly represented. This allows Wikipedia to be a place not only of information, but of collaboration. Many users of Wikipedia consult the page history of an article in order to assess the number, and the perspective, of people who contributed to the article. You may also consult the talk page of any article to see what other readers and editors have to say about it.

Wikipedia's best articles are highlighted in the list of featured articles. These articles were granted "featured" status because they were judged to be of high quality by other editors. (If later edits reduce the quality of a featured article, a user can nominate an article for removal from the list.)

See also

  • Editing environment - describes how Wikipedia is governed? What happens when content disputes 'boil over' into accusations of bad conduct?
  • Formal organization - discusses who does what on Wikipedia? What does Wikipedia say itself about its own formal organizational structure?
  • General disclaimer - discusses how Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found within it.
  • Offensive material - discusses how Wikipedia contains content which is likely to offend others and that sexual content should not be removed just because it is sexually charged.
  • Wikipedia is a community - describes how there is nothing wrong with occasionally doing other things than writing the encyclopedia, and that community spirit is a positive thing.
  • Wikipedia is a volunteer service - discusses how editors on Wikipedia are mainly volunteers. Editors can contribute as much as they want, and however long they desire.