Wikipedia:Guidance for younger editors

You can edit Wikipedia! But there are some rules. You don't have to be a certain age to edit or make new articles. The most important thing is to write good and accurate information and work nicely with others. Here are some helpful tips for editing Wikipedia.

Adults can read Wikipedia:Advice for parents as well.

Safety and Security matters edit

Basics edit

  • Be careful with what you write. Never post your name, address, phone number, location, or other personal information onto Wikipedia or use any of that information as part of your account's username, even if it's very small or subtle. Instead, choose a username that you like and is meaningful to you, but one that other people can't decipher or use to try and figure out who you are in real life. People can use your personal information as well as your account's username to find out who you really are, especially if you've used the same information or username on other web sites.
  • Do not start editing Wikipedia by going straight to articles that are closely or personally related to you, such as your school's Wikipedia article, or any articles related to your location and where you live. This is a behavior that a significant number of new user accounts will exhibit when making their first edits to Wikipedia. People who are experienced or proficient with discovering the real identity of others will know this, and will very often look at another user's first edits for clues to use in their searches in order to try and find you. Instead, you should consider editing these kinds of pages only after you've built up a proficiently sized edit history and with hundreds of other articles. This way, if you ever decide to go back and contribute to those pages, it doesn't stand out to other users compared to your account's first contributions.
  • Do not create new articles or contribute to existing articles that are about yourself. If you are a very important person (or what we refer to as a notable person), someone else will undoubtedly write an article about you on Wikipedia. Let them take care of that for you, and don't interfere with any processes or discussions related to it.
  • If you've posted your personal information anywhere, request it to be suppressed immediately. This will hide that information from the public, and not allow anyone to see or access it. An administrator or other user, in cases where it's very obvious that the information should not be public, will usually redact it upon discovery. Nonetheless, never assume that any personal information you post will eventually disappear (whether by deletion or other means), or "that no one is going to look there". Always request the personal information to be deleted.

Photos of yourself, your friends, or your family edit

  • Never upload or post photos of yourself, your friends, or your family anywhere on Wikipedia. People can easily use those images in reverse photo searches and other search tools, and if you've ever used that image elsewhere or on other websites that are tied to your personal information, they will find it. While you may really like your picture in front of the Eiffel Tower, readers just want to see the Eiffel Tower. If there is a photo that has you in it, don't state this or make this known to others.

Account edit

  • If you don't have a Wikipedia account for yourself, create one!
  • Always log into your account and use it when you contribute to Wikipedia. By doing this, your edits will be attributed to your username rather than your IP address.
  • Use a strong password and never share it with anyone.
  • Do not share your account or allow anyone else to use it.
  • When you leave your workstation or computer, log out of your account - especially if you're on a public computer or one that you share with others.
  • Don not create or use more than one account to contribute to Wikipedia unless you have a good reason to do so.

Getting help edit

Help is out there, just ask!

There are plenty of other editors ready to help you.

How can you contribute to Wikipedia? edit

Pretty much just like anyone else – mostly by improving articles and writing new ones.

  • If you write a new article that really belongs here, you have made our encyclopedia better! Many new articles are deleted because people don't know what should and should not be in an encyclopedia, and the place to find out is at What Wikipedia is not. If your work gets deleted, please don't be disappointed or take it personally: many of our best editors have had some of their articles deleted.
  • Help clean up. Because it's easy to edit the encyclopedia, some people think it's funny to do silly things to it. We don't think it's funny, and we call it vandalism. If you see something that is very silly or rude and shouldn't be here, you can go ahead and remove it.
  • Wikipedia isn't like TikTok, YouTube or Snapchat. User pages are a place we give you where other Wikipedians can find out a little bit about you and what you do here. Improving the encyclopedia is the only task here so it isn't really for hanging out with friends or for playing games. Try things out in Wikipedia's sandbox to learn how "Wiki-coding" works.
  • Have fun. Do what you enjoy and what you are good at. All of us, of whatever age, work on Wikipedia because we like spending our free time doing it, like a hobby. So if you enjoy finding spelling mistakes and fixing them, do that; if you enjoy removing vandal edits and reporting vandals, do that. If you enjoy spending some time in the library to find material to add to an article, do that.

Working on articles edit

And Wikipedia has many rules.

Wikipedia has many policies for articles. These are especially important:

  • Biographies. Encyclopedias have many articles about people. Some are about dead people and some are about people who are still very much alive. We have to be extremely careful of what we write about living people, and the page at biographies of living persons will tell you all about it. Things about people must be supported by reliable sources – we need proof. If it's true, because it was written in an important newspaper or in a reputable book, or it was discussed at length on TV, you can tell us that it was by citing a source, and the information can stay in the article. Wrong information could be read by thousands of people and could hurt a person's image. Some private information is not interesting even if it is true – there's not much point in mentioning the names of people's children or their dogs, or what they have for breakfast. If you're not sure if something should be included, talk about it with another editor first. How to quote information in articles is explained at Reliable sources and Citing sources. Most importantly, do not write a biography about yourself!
  • Notability. All articles must be about subjects that are important enough. We call this notability. If the subject is not notable, its article may get deleted by an administrator – and sometimes rather quickly! For example, we have a lot of articles about bands. The Beatles were a very famous and important band because their songs left their mark on society forever, but the band that practices in your neighbor's garage is not likely to be ready for a Wikipedia article for a long time, even if they played at the school prom.
  • Some parts of Wikipedia can be inappropriate for you. Wikipedia is not censored and we might have some material that your guardians may not want you to work on, so please talk about it with your guardians.
  • Copying stuff from other places. We call this plagiarism. Like using other people's photos, the use of stuff that other people wrote somewhere else is not allowed, even if change one or two words. Copied text will be deleted if we don't have very special permission for it. It's like copying your friend's homework.

Working with other editors edit

Getting along with your fellow editors is very important.

Most articles, even ones you create or write yourself, will end up getting edited, modified, expanded, and improved by other editors after you. Working together with others is an extremely important activity when it comes to developing an encyclopedia as a community. Remember that these other editors are also trying to do their best and in good faith just as you are, and it's important to get along well with them. Don't be mad at people if you don't like what they changed or added; just discuss your concerns with them on the article or page's talk page and in a civil way.

  • Be polite and discuss concerns with other editors. When problems or concerns arise, always discuss them with the others involved and try to work things out. Don't begin the pattern of changing the article back-and-forth versus one another. We call that an edit war, a behavior that will result in being temporarily blocked. Do not make snarky comments in edit summaries or make any kind of personal attacks toward other editors. Always remember that there are plenty of ways to ask for help if a discussion between the editors involved don't come to a consensus.
  • Take advice. If someone points out a mistake you made, thank them for telling you and don't take it as a bad or negative conversation. If someone is concerned about an edit you made, you should explain as best as possible why you felt it was necessary or appropriate. It's okay to make mistakes — everyone makes them, and we've all learned from mistakes and how not to repeat them by simply listening to the comments, feedback, and criticisms from others.
  • Warnings. If you receive a warning, think carefully about what it says. You may have done something wrong. If the warning is correct, avoid making the same mistake again. If you think the warning is wrong, politely discuss it with the person who warned you or ask another editor you trust for their input.
  • Problems. Always remain polite, civil, positive, and collaborative toward others - even in situations or with users who are not being polite or civil to you. If someone is being uncivil toward you, and continues to do so after you've asked them to stop, do not start behaving rudely toward them in retaliation or return - two wrongs don't make a right. Instead, either ask an administrator for help, or report the behavior to a noticeboard.

Wikipedia projects edit

Many topics have a Wikipedia project or "WikiProject" page. A WikiProject is a group of editors who share the same interest in a subject, and they've gotten together to keep an eye on the articles and improve them. There are WikiProject Film, WikiProject Video games, and many more. Don't hesitate to join the project of your favorite subject; it's one of the first places you can get help and advice on adding your content.

Recognition for your contributions edit

Icons for how good an article is

There are lots of ways that Wikipedians recognize each other's good work.

  • Articles are judged based on trust that experienced editors will provide their honest opinions in evaluating another editor's work. Many articles start as short 'stubs', and some are reviewed and become Good Articles. Some even become Featured Articles, meaning that they are among the best articles in all of Wikipedia. A new or expanded article with an interesting fact can be listed in the Did you know? section of the main page.
  • Barnstars. You might be given a "barnstar" in recognition of some especially great contributions you made to articles, or for a special clean-up work. Barnstars should not be handed out lightly; they are a recognition of achievement.
  • WikiLove can be used more freely to give each other a big hug for being nice and helpful.

Administrators edit

The administrator's "mop"

Administrators are users who can use special tools and are trusted by other editors, but this does not make them more important than anybody else. It's like being entrusted with a janitor's bunch of keys, especially the key to the cupboard where the mops and buckets are kept, and then going around cleaning up the mess. Sometimes it means locking articles to stop people coming back to make a bigger mess, and sometimes even blocking users from editing.

Mentorship edit

You ask other editors to teach you how to edit Wikipedia. Wikipedia:Adopt-a-user is where you can find someone to be your teacher.

Finally edit

Some people think our younger editors do not have the maturity, knowledge, skills, or attitudes needed to work on Wikipedia. Our young editors prove them wrong every day.

See also edit