How to be a Successful Wikipedia Contributor

How to be a Successful Wikipedia Contributor

To be a successful Wikipedia contributor there are a few rules you should stick to. Adhering to community norms is important, and getting involved in the Wikipedia community will keep you motivated. Become a valued member of the community by helping out with editing priority articles and avoiding newbie mistakes.

How to edit Wikipedia

It’s pretty simple. To edit a Wikipedia entry, simply click the Edit tab at the top of the page or the section of the article you want to edit. You’ll see a page with a text box containing the editable text of the Wikipedia entry. Type in the content you wish to add, or any edits. You can use Wiki Markup to add images and diagrams, and for formatting text. The Show Preview button lets you preview the article. Lastly, remember to write a short edit summary in the small field below the text box describing what you’ve changed and why. (This is helpful for the community, who can easily understand your edits and their purpose). Then just click the Save Page button. 

The basics

Wikipedia is serious stuff. After all, it’s an encyclopedia. So no plagiarism, make sure you use sources, and don’t be tempted to write about yourself, your band or your friend’s business. Only things that have already been covered by other reputable publications and sites should be in an encyclopedia...and even then, only if they’re important. Another Wikipedia basic is neutrality. Ripping on an artist you don’t like or singing the praises of your favourite author is going to get your edits changed or reverted.

Another form of good practice is to search Wikipedia before writing your article and ensure there isn’t already an article on that subject.  

Learn the ropes before you edit

If you’re having trouble finding your way around, there is a Wikipedia tutorial. Alternatively, if it’s only the basics you need, try the Newcomers training. They’re both step-by-step guides explaining what Wikipedia is all about and how to contribute. The Wikipedia Adventure is a 7-mission interactive guided tour of Wikipedia. It explains all about the editing process and community norms. An Article Wizard is available to help you create articles and RefToolbar automatically fills out the citation templates.

Keep to encyclopedia style

That means no original research. It also means writing in a serious but simple tone; no informal or blog-style writing! 

Be helpful

Don’t just do your own thing. Wikipedia is a community. You’ll find tasks you can help with at the Wikipedia:Community portal, and if you want to help out, Wikipedia:Backlog lists the articles which need to be cleaned up.

Get involved in the Wikipedia community

Obviously, Wikipedia is comprised of a large community of volunteer editors. And, unsurprisingly, these editors sometimes disagree. All Wikipedia articles have their very own talk page where editors hash out improvements. You can get to this Talk page by clicking the Talk tab just above the title. So if your edits ever get reverted, discuss it on the Talk page until you reach a compromise. 

Set up an account

Though Wikipedia once had a drive to encourage anonymous editors to register accounts, you don’t actually need an account to edit Wikipedia. Plenty of its editors are anonymous users identified only by their IP addresses. People editing by their IP addresses can submit proposed articles through the Articles for Creation process, where articles will be reviewed and considered for publication. But setting up an account comes with advantages, such as the ability to create pages, upload media and edit without your IP address being publicly visible. This is beneficial because only registered users can create articles directly, and also because you can be traced or even identified by your IP address, which obviously becomes a security threat if hackers or cyberbullies decide to target you. Creating a Wikipedia account takes only seconds. Just click the "Create an account now" link and fill out the online form. 

Being a successful Wikipedia contributor takes attention to detail as well as dedication and good writing skills. If you use these tips, editing Wikipedia articles will not just become much easier, you’ll have fun doing it. If you help out with editing priority articles, keep to Wikipedia’s social norms and avoid making mistakes which need to be reverted, you’ll have a smoother experience and might even make new online friends in the community.


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