Wikipedia:The essence of Wikipedia

The essence of Wikipedia is the harnessing of the collective intelligence and collaborative efforts of editors who hold opposing points of view, in an attempt to preserve all serious contributions which are reliably sourced. The aim is the progressive building of more and better neutral point of view (NPOV) encyclopedic content.

Collective intelligenceEdit

Wikipedia is based on the idea that "No one knows everything, but everyone knows something,"[1][2] and when editors get together and collaboratively bring what they have to the talk page "negotiating table", a fuller picture emerges, much greater than any one of them could envision. Editors should seek to merge their content with that of others. The editor and article will benefit from this process. This is the only way we can approach Wikipedia's goal of documenting "the sum total of human knowledge", as it is found in reliable sources (RS).


Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales has stated that "The essence of wiki is a collaborative editing process,..."[3] Collaboration between editors who hold opposing points of view (POV)[4] is essential to a healthy editing environment and the development of good NPOV content. When all is said and done, proper content will likely tend to offend editors (and readers) on the extreme ends of the POV spectrum, and that is a good sign. If the editors understand NPOV, they will resist the temptation to change that delicate balance. If content is reliably sourced, then they should be very careful not to carelessly delete it. The best content is developed when editors who hold opposing POV come to the talk page and bring their best evidence (RS). Since each will be familiar with sources unknown to the other, all significant POV will be represented and have a chance for inclusion.


We are trying to build, not break down, the encyclopedia, so rather than remove reliably sourced content (such removal is often seen as vandalism), try to frame it better. When in doubt, do not just delete it, but instead take it to the talk page for discussion. By following WP:PRESERVE, we honor the efforts of all editors who are trying to do their part. Failure to do so denigrates other editors' efforts, discourages them, and violates the spirit of Wikipedia.

As we each do our part, even though we may not see the merits[2] of why someone else added something, we should try to see things from their perspective and try to preserve it (unless it grossly violates policy). Often it just needs better framing or a better source. The whole is much greater and larger than the part we add or can see, and Wikipedia is made less when we remove what others have added. Try to imagine that your best efforts were being trashed; then apply the Golden Rule and honor others' efforts as you would want them to honor yours.

See alsoEdit

  • Administration - discuses both the human administrative structure of Wikipedia, as well as its non-human components.
  • Editing environment – describes how Wikipedia is governed? What happens when content disputes 'boil over' into accusations of bad conduct?
  • Editorial discretion – discusses how common sense and Wikipedia policy dictates that editors must practice discretion regarding the proper inclusion of relevant and well-sourced content.
  • Editor integrity – discusses how editors have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of Wikipedia and respect intellectual property rights of the sources they draw upon when they create and improve encyclopedia pages.
  • Purpose – describes Wikipedia's motive for being.
  • The role of policies in collaborative anarchy – describes how policies produce a quality encyclopaedia.
  • User:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principlesstatement of principles! by the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, as updated by the community since then.
  • 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.
  • WikiProject Democracy – links to information where you can participate in governing Wikipedia.


  1. ^ Lévy, Pierre: "No one knows everything, but everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity." Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1997, p.20 (French first edition, 1994)
  2. ^ a b Blind men and an elephant (essay)
  3. ^ "Jimmy Wales: 'It's not about how many pages. It's about how good they are'". The Independent. London. December 20, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  4. ^ Collaboration first (essay)