How to Start Editing Wikipedia Articles Yourself
Wikipedia is “a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” – as it says right on the main page . But editing Wikipedia articles can be quite intimidating, especially for beginners. If you’re interested in editing and don’t know where to start, great news: Annie Rauverda, who hosts @depthsofwikipedia on Instagram ,Twitter , and TikTok , recently posted a crash course on the topic:
There are no words here: the number of Wikipedia articles requiring attention is almost incomprehensibly high: there are 6.6 million articles in English alone. It’s too much to wrap your head around, and unless you’re the kind of person who jumps into a deep hole without a real plan, it might seem impossible to choose a starting point. But as Rauverda points out, there are tons of ways to contribute, and you don’t have to be a domain expert to be helpful.
Start with the Wikipedia Style Guide.
The best place for beginner editors is Wikipedia’s Guide to Style , or MoS. You don’t have to memorize it or anything – it’s very long and you’ll still be referring to it all the time when you make edits – but a quick glance will give you an idea of the standards. It’s also incredibly helpful to read the citation source guide . Citations are one of the highest priority (and most valuable) edits you can make; it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the types of sources.
Choose the topics you are interested in
Once you’ve read the Style Guide and source guidelines, you should have the confidence to start thinking about potential projects. This doesn’t necessarily mean thinking about what topics you’re interested in (although some background knowledge might be helpful), but about the type of editing tasks you’ll most enjoy.
Maintaining Wikipedia pages is not only about finding quotes and correcting typos. There are several different types of editing you can do, including (but not limited to):
- General text editing: If you like good old text editing, go through the list of articles that need it and go broke.
- Sources and adding citations: The list of articles with claims without sources is long and intimidating, and it is important to shorten it. There is also a game version , which makes the citation hunt a little more interesting.
- Orphan Article Acceptance: Orphan Articles are not linked to any other article and need to be cross-referenced. Of course, there is a list to start with.
- Adding Data to Wikimedia Photos: Rauwerda compares adding missing photo data to “a very difficult captcha”. If this looks like something you can do, use the Depictor tool to get started.
- Acceptance of a specific typo: Are you annoyed by a specific spelling or grammatical error? Review the list of typographical errors and get involved in a small project you love.
- Adding photos to geography articles: There’s a handy tool that uses your location to suggest nearby geography articles that need images; fire it up, walk around, take some pictures and upload them to Wikipedia. It’s like Pokémon Go and the editors of Wikipedia have a baby.
Start editing Wikipedia pages
By now it should be clear that anyone can edit Wikipedia; there are so many different kinds of tasks to take on that you are basically guaranteed to find something you like and are good at. When you think you’ve found your niche, dive into it and start editing – every little thing helps.