|This page in a nutshell: Everyone – including you – can make improvements to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.|
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 on Wikipedia come from many countries, with individuals who all bring something different with them, 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" of the encyclopedia. Almost all Wikipedians are volunteers. Other categories of Wikipedians have emerged as well.
Who contributes to Wikipedia?
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The English Wikipedia currently has 44,287,315 users who have registered a username. Only a minority of users contribute regularly (114,399 have edited in the last 30 days), and only a minority of those contributors participate in community discussions. An unknown but relatively large number of unregistered Wikipedians also contribute to the site.
The type of people who were drawn to writing an encyclopedia for fun tend to be pretty smart people.
Contributions come from diverse demographic and ethnographic segments:
- Mid-20s males and retired males are the largest demographics. See Gender database reports.
- 10–20% women of various ages, significant underrepresentation acknowledged by Gender bias on Wikipedia and Gender gap
- 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)
- Archivists (e.g., people who work or volunteer at 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)
- Evil-doers (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 researching with Wikipedia. It is Wikipedia's policy to add to the encyclopedia only statements that are verifiable and not 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 and users. (If later edits reduce the quality of a featured article, a user can nominate an article for removal from the list.)
- Administration – discusses how Wikipedia requires a certain amount of administration in order to further the project's goals.
- Core content policies – a brief summary and background on Wikipedia's core content policies.
- 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.
- Five pillars – describes the fundamental principles of Wikipedia summarized in five "pillars".
- Purpose – describes Wikipedia's motive for being by its founders.
- The essence of Wikipedia – describes how 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.
- Wikipedia is a volunteer service – discusses how editors on Wikipedia are mainly volunteers. Editors can contribute as much as they want, and however long as they desire.