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HST 342: Votes for Women (Deno): Wikipedia

Guide for Dr. Deno's Spring 2018 course

Getting Started Editing Wikipedia

Contributing to Wikipedia is one of the most positive ways to effect change on the Internet. As one of the most-visited sites on the web, Wikipedia's content is often the first (and last) stop for information on a given topic. The way Wikipedia is indexed by Google ensures that the Wikipedia article for any given search is almost always the first hit. By updating articles in under-represented areas, you're ensuring that someone's search for your topic leads them to your readable, accurate analysis and your high quality sources.

Writing for Wikipedia is not the same as writing an essay for your professor. Encyclopedic style is full of brisk, unadorned prose with very little point of view. Length is the enemy. Read the main articles in your research area to help you understand the expectations of style and content. The organizational structure of an article is important and should be among the first things you determine when planning your article.

The Wikipedia Training for Students linked on this page is an excellent introduction to Wikipedia's policies and guidelines, the technical side of editing, and a handful of advanced topics that will help you get started. If you have any questions about editing, formatting citations, or anything Wikipedia-related, please contact Josh Petrusa (

Templates to Consider:

  • Infobox Person
  • Infobox Organization
  • Sidebar

Tidbits to Remember from the Wikipedia Tutorial

Wikipedia's Five Pillars:

1. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia

  • Not sure what belongs in an encyclopedia? Check out the Wikipedia page on encyclopedias.

2. Wikipedia has a neutral point of view

  • "All article content should be verifiable based on published material. That means citing published, authoritative sources, especially on controversial topics and when the subject is a living person. Unreferenced material can be removed."  

  • "Articles should not feature editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions. If a sentence begins with "This means that...", "I think...," "The benefits of..." or something like it, you're submitting something that probably doesn't belong on Wikipedia. Likewise, words such as "Interestingly," "Actually," etc, are a form of editorializing, and should be avoided. "Interesting" to whom? "Actually," compared to what?"

3. Wikipedia is free content

  • "It is therefore crucial to understand the material you are adding, process it, rephrase it from a neutral perspective, and then add the content, while citing the corroborating source."

4. Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner

  • "Always be mindful of the community around you."

5. Wikipedia does not have firm rules

  • "A lot of Wikipedia editing is about using your best judgment, and you may be asked to explain the edits you make. Explaining why you decided to do something is just part of being in a community of people."



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