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How Wikipedia Works

Book Description

Myxomatosis. The Order of Canada. Noble gas. Catherine de' Medici. The History of Superman? Whether you're doing serious research on the Web or just settling an argument, it's easy to get caught up in Wikipedia's two million articles. And that's not such a bad thing. But how'd all the information get there in the first place? And how can you tell if it's reliable?

Or say you want to become a part of Wikipedia and make your own contributions. Where do you begin?

In How Wikipedia Works, you'll learn the skills required to use and contribute to the world's largest reference work-like what constitutes good writing and research and how to work with images and templates.

With insight, anecdotes, and tips from three Wikipedia veterans, you'll learn how to:

  • Find information and evaluate the quality and reliability of articles

  • Contribute to existing articles by copyediting, writing new material, and fact-checking

  • Add new articles that conform to Wikipedia's guidelines and best practices-so that your hard work won't be deleted

  • Communicate with other Wikipedians through Talk pages, discussion forums, direct messaging, and more

  • Understand Wikipedia's policies and procedures and how they're created and enforced

  • Resolve content disputes and deal with vandals and other malicious editors

  • Wikipedia is made up of people just like you: students, professors, and everyday experts and fans. With about 10,000 articles added to Wikipedia each week, there are plenty of opportunities to join this global community. How Wikipedia Works explains how you can make the Web's go-to source for information even better. Instead of wondering where to begin, the question will be "How far will you go?"

    Table of Contents

    1. Dedication
    2. Acknowledgments
    3. Introduction
      1. Inside This Book
      2. What You Should Know Going In
      3. Using This Book
      4. Our Approach to Understanding Wikipedia
      5. It’s Everyone’s Encyclopedia: Be Bold!
    4. I. Content
      1. 1. What’s in Wikipedia?
        1. Types of Articles
        2. Article and Content Inclusion Policies
          1. Core Policies: V, NOR, and NPOV
          2. Understanding the Policies
          3. Other Guidelines
            1. Notability
            2. Copyrighted Material
            3. Non-encyclopedic Content
          4. What Wikipedia Is Not
        3. Non-article Content
          1. Types of Non-article Pages
          2. Namespaces
            1. List of Namespaces
        4. Summary and What to Read Next
      2. 2. The World Gets a Free Encyclopedia
        1. Wikipedia’s Mission
        2. Wikipedia’s Roots
          1. Ancient Greece to Today: Encyclopedias
          2. Late 17th Century: The Modern Encyclopedia
          3. Wikipedia as an Encyclopedia
          4. The 1960s and 1970s: Unix, Networks, and Personal Computers
          5. The 1980s: The Free Software Movement
            1. Wikipedia and the Free Perspective
          6. 1995: Ward’s Wiki
          7. 1997: Open Source Communities
          8. 2000: Online Community Dynamics
            1. Wikipedia as a Wiki Community
          9. 2001: Wikipedia Goes Live
          10. Wikipedia Today
          11. Unfinished Business
        3. The Wikipedia Model Debated
          1. Misinformation: The Seigenthaler Scandal
          2. Amateur Contributors, Authority, and Academia
            1. Wikipedia and Academic Authority
            2. Wikipedia and Experts
            3. Case Studies in Academic Authority
            4. Pseudonyms and Claimed Expertise
            5. The Crowd of Amateurs
        4. Summary
      3. 3. Finding Wikipedia’s Content
        1. Searching Wikipedia
          1. Basic Searching
            1. Varying the Search
            2. Search Operators
            3. Searching Other Namespaces
            4. Some Special Searches
            5. Search Problems and Some Alternatives
          2. External Search Engines
            1. When to Use External Search Engines
            2. When Not to Use External Search Engines
        2. Ways into Wikipedia
          1. Welcome to the Main Page
            1. Navigating the Main Page
            2. Portals into the Encyclopedia
            3. Daily Content
            4. Constructing the Main Page
            5. Disclaimers, License, and Privacy
          2. The Omnipresent Sidebar
            1. Navigation
            2. Interaction
            3. Recent Changes
            4. The Search Box
            5. Toolbox
            6. Languages
        3. Joys of Hypertext
          1. A Hypertext Primer
          2. Three Types of Links
          3. Browsing by Topic
            1. Lists of Articles
            2. Traditional Classification Schemes
            3. Date-Related Articles
          4. Browsing by Categories
            1. Structure of a Category Page
            2. Navigating Categories
            3. A Longer Journey Using Categories
          5. Browsing by Page Type
            1. Finding Excellent or Poor Content
            2. Finding Images
            3. Finding Media Files
        4. Summary
      4. 4. Understanding and Evaluating an Article
        1. Anatomy of an Article
          1. The Article Text
          2. Backlinks
          3. Article History
            1. Reading a Page History
            2. Analyzing a Page History
            3. Edit Summaries and Minor Edits
          4. Talk Pages
            1. Reading and Contributing to Talk Pages
            2. Making Good Use of Talk Pages
        2. Evaluating Articles
          1. Misinformation, Missing Information, and Mistakes
          2. D-R-E-W-S
            1. Discussion on the Talk Page
            2. Ratings
            3. Edit History
            4. Writing and Formatting
            5. Sources
        3. Summary
        4. Final Thoughts for Part I
    5. II. Editing
      1. 5. Basic Editing
        1. Editing a Page
          1. Understanding the Edit Window
            1. Reading Article Wikitext
            2. Using the Edit Window Tools
          2. Major vs. Minor Edits
          3. Handling Major Editing Tasks
          4. Fixing Mistakes and Other Reasons to Revert
          5. Who Can Edit What?
        2. Syntax
          1. Fundamentals of Text Markup
            1. Bold and Italic
            2. Indentation, Line, and Paragraph Breaks
            3. Numbered and Bulleted Lists
          2. Internal and External Links
            1. Internal Links
              1. Redlinks
              2. Tricks with Internal Links
              3. Internal Linking Policy
            2. External Links
              1. External Linking Policy
          3. Sections and Headings
            1. Linking into and out of Sections
          4. Removing Formatting and Hiding Comments
        3. Summary
      2. 6. Good Writing and Research
        1. Starting New Articles
          1. Deciding What to Write About
          2. Before Starting a New Article
          3. Avoiding Treacherous Topics
          4. Starting the Article
            1. Click a Redlink
            2. Two More Ways to Start an Article
            3. Titles Are Tricky
          5. Drafting the Article
          6. Don’t Forget
        2. Writing Well
          1. Consulting the Manual of Style
          2. Introduction and Topic Sentence
          3. Comprehensiveness and Appropriate Length
          4. Structure
          5. Readability
          6. Audience
          7. Use of Language
          8. Graphics
          9. Applying Basic Content Policies
          10. Reviews
          11. Quality and the Good Stub
        3. Researching Articles
          1. Good Wikipedia Research
          2. Doing Research
          3. Reliable Sources
          4. Referencing Styles
            1. Using Footnotes
            2. Referencing Templates
        4. Editing Alongside Others
          1. Changing What Others Write
          2. Will Your Own Edits Be Kept?
          3. Edit Summaries
          4. No Ownership
        5. Summary
      3. 7. Cleanup, Projects, and Processes
        1. Cleanup
          1. Flagging Articles
          2. Cleanup Categories
        2. Cleanup Tasks
          1. Rewriting
          2. Expanding Stubs
          3. Wikification
          4. Fact-Checking and Referencing
            1. Help, an Article About Me Is Incorrect!
            2. Copyright Violations
          5. Vandalism Patrolling
          6. Cleanup Editing Tools
        3. Projects: Working to Improve Content
          1. WikiProjects
          2. Wikiportals
          3. Writing Collaborations
        4. Processes
          1. What Processes Cover
          2. Deleting Articles
            1. Deletion Processes
            2. Help, My Article’s Being Deleted!
            3. A Deletion Case Study
          3. Featured Articles
        5. Summary
      4. 8. Make and Mend Wikipedia’s Web
        1. Redirect and Disambiguate
          1. Redirects
            1. Creating and Editing Redirects
            2. Limitations on Redirecting
          2. Disambiguation Pages
            1. Disambiguating Articles About People
            2. Disambiguation Templates
        2. Merge, Split, and Move
          1. Merging Articles
            1. How to Merge Articles
          2. Splitting Articles
          3. Moving Pages
            1. Limits on Moving Pages
            2. Undoing a Move
            3. Contentious Title Changes
        3. Categorize
          1. Categorizing Basics
          2. Categories and Content Policy
          3. Creating New Categories
          4. Subcategories
          5. Categorization Projects
        4. Housekeeping
          1. When a Page Move Is Blocked
          2. Default Meanings
          3. Avoiding Disambiguation Pages
          4. Controlling Category Sorting
          5. Categories and Templates for Redirects
          6. Process-Style Resolutions
        5. Summary
      5. 9. Images, Templates, and Special Characters
        1. Images and Media Files
          1. Finding and Adding Images
            1. Searching for Images to Use
            2. Image Licenses and Fair Use
            3. Uploading Your Own Images
          2. Using Images
          3. Using Multimedia Files
        2. Templates
          1. Using Templates
          2. Using Parameters
          3. How Templates Work
          4. Varieties of Templates
          5. How to Build Templates
        3. Laying Out Articles
          1. Tables
          2. Formatting Columns
        4. Special Syntax
          1. HTML and CSS
          2. Mathematical Formulas
          3. Variables and Magic Words
        5. Summary
      6. 10. The Life Cycle of an Article
        1. Birth of an Article
        2. Deletion
        3. Maintenance Tagging
        4. Editing Improvements
        5. Potential Merge
        6. Discussion and Content Tags
        7. Categories
        8. Bots Arrive
        9. Incoming Wikilinks
        10. Artie Is Moved
        11. In Good Times
        12. In Bad Times
        13. Bad Times, and a True Story
        14. Search Engines Find the Article
        15. New Relatives
        16. Getting the Picture
        17. Good Article
        18. Summary
        19. Conclusion to Part II
    6. III. Community
      1. 11. Becoming a Wikipedian
        1. On Arrival
          1. Registering an Account
            1. Privacy
            2. “Anonymous” Edits
            3. Usernames and Real Names
            4. Deleting, Renaming, and Having Multiple Accounts
            5. Is a Username Taken?
            6. Creating the Account
          2. Setting Your Preferences
            1. Setting Your Signature
            2. Customizing Skins and Installing Extensions
        2. User Pages, Watchlists, and Edit Count
          1. User Page Content
            1. Guidelines
            2. User Talk Pages
          2. Watchlists
          3. RSS Notification
          4. Contribution History and Counting Edits
        3. Users and Administrators
          1. User Levels
          2. Administrators
          3. Requesting Help from an Administrator
          4. Becoming an Administrator
        4. Summary
      2. 12. Community and Communication
        1. Wikipedia’s Culture
          1. Assumptions on Arrival
          2. Random Acts of Kindness
          3. The Open Door
          4. Soft Security
          5. Communicating with Other Editors
            1. Talk Page Guidelines
            2. Voting and Discussing
            3. On-Wiki Forums
            4. Asking Questions and Resolving Problems
            5. Getting News
            6. Mailing Lists and Internet Relay Chat
            7. Meetups and Conferences
          6. Wikiphilosophies
          7. Funny Business
        2. Who Writes This Thing Anyway?
          1. Demographics
          2. Systemic Bias
          3. Wikipedians on Wikipedia
          4. Operational Analysis: Raul’s Laws
          5. Practical Values, Process, and Policy
          6. More Research Required
        3. Summary
      3. 13. Policy and Your Input
        1. The Spirit of Wikipedia
          1. The Five Pillars
          2. Ignore All Rules and Be Bold
          3. Assume Good Faith
        2. What Is Policy?
          1. Official Policy
          2. Policies and Guidelines
          3. How Policies Are Created and Developed
          4. How Policies Evolve
          5. How to Interpret Policies and Guidelines
        3. Letter of the Law
          1. List of Policies
            1. Content Policies
            2. Social Policies
            3. Enabling Policies
            4. General Policies
          2. List of Guidelines
          3. Seven Policies to Study
        4. Summary
      4. 14. Disputes, Blocks, and Bans
        1. Content Disputes and Edit Wars
          1. Coming to Consensus
          2. Resolving a Dispute: Discussion
          3. More Steps for Resolving a Content Dispute
          4. Ineffective Solutions
          5. Causes of Content Disputes
          6. Case Study: Gdańsk
        2. Resolving Disputes Between Editors
          1. Dispute Resolution Processes
          2. The Nature of Formal Evidence
          3. Arbitration Committee
        3. Blocks and Bans
          1. Short Blocks
          2. Longer Blocks
          3. Bans
        4. Summary
        5. Conclusion to Part III
    7. IV. Other Projects
      1. 15. 200 Languages and Counting
        1. Languages and Scripts
          1. The Long Tail of Languages
          2. Getting Involved in Other Languages
          3. Script Support
        2. Links Between Languages
        3. English in Global Focus
        4. Summary
      2. 16. Wikimedia Commons and Other Sister Projects
        1. Wikimedia Commons
          1. Searching and Browsing Commons
          2. Using Commons Material in Wikipedia
          3. Participating in Commons
            1. Inclusion Guidelines
            2. Uploading Images
            3. Categorizing
        2. Other Sister Projects
          1. Wiktionary
          2. Wikinews
          3. Wikibooks
          4. Wikiquote
          5. Wikisource
          6. Wikispecies
          7. Wikiversity
        3. Linking Between Projects and Copying Content
          1. How to Link
          2. Moving Content Between Projects
        4. Other Wikis
          1. Starting Your Own Wiki
          2. Wiki Software
        5. Summary
      3. 17. The Foundation and Project Coordination
        1. The Foundation: Mission and Structure
          1. Infrastructure and the Board
          2. Foundation-Level Policy
          3. Fundraisers and Donations
          4. Wikimedia Chapters and Outreach
          5. MediaWiki
        2. The Meta-Wiki
          1. Project Coordination
          2. Translation
          3. New Projects
          4. Communication
        3. Looking Back and Going Forward
          1. Early Days
          2. Continued Values
        4. Summary
        5. Conclusion to Part IV
      4. A. Reusing Wikimedia Content
        1. Guidelines for Reuse
        2. Examples of Reuse
      5. B. Wikipedia for Teachers
        1. Wikipedia as a Classroom Reference Resource
        2. Guiding Student Use of Wikipedia
        3. Assigning Wikipedia Editing
      6. C. Edit Summaries Jargon
        1. Common Edit Summaries
        2. Deletion and Maintenance Summaries
        3. Automatically Added Edit Summaries
      7. D. Glossary
      8. E. History
        1. Part I
        2. Part II
        3. Part III
        4. Part IV
      9. F. GNU Free Documentation License
        1. PREAMBLE
        2. APPLICABILITY AND DEFINITIONS
        3. VERBATIM COPYING
        4. COPYING IN QUANTITY
        5. MODIFICATIONS
        6. COMBINING DOCUMENTS
        7. COLLECTIONS OF DOCUMENTS
        8. AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS
        9. TRANSLATION
        10. TERMINATION
        11. FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE
    8. Index
    9. About the Authors
    10. Colophon
    11. Copyright