If you’re interesting in getting some practice writing or just helping to improve a DIY crowd-sourced encyclopedia, I’m here to help you along the way.
We’ll go into how to write and create your first Wikipedia article and what exactly Wikipedia is.
We’ll also cover the rules and conditions for getting your own Wikipedia page, and go through examples of those who did get on Wikipedia.
Lastly, we’ll cover the tips that come up the most when writing for Wikipedia.
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a utopian project started by Jimmy Wales to create an encyclopedia written by the world and free for anyone to access.
It was radical in that it was an experiment in openness and relies heavily on the principles of free and open-source software.
The early founders had a belief, as expressed by Eric Raymond in “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“. He references what he calls Linus’ Law, “with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow.”
By allowing the public to work collaboratively, publishing frequently and often, they would avoid many of the pitfalls of procrastination and the accumulated efforts of the group would result in an encyclopedia that was freely accessible to anyone in the world, no matter their income, and that it would be the highest quality document available.
Creating a page on Wikipedia
Why create a page?
Looking for respect, traffic, or fame?
Maybe don’t create a page. Wikipedia isn’t for people looking for personal gain, instead it’s a group project to create knowledge that everyone can rely on and improve.
Creating your first page
For this guide we’re going to assume you’ve edited pages on Wikipedia before and you’re looking to jump into the pool of writing completely new articles and pages.
- Create your account on Wikipedia if you don’t have one. You can also edit pages anonymously, but it’s a good idea to join the community and receive feedback on the work you do. You’ll need an account to actually create a page.
- Read over Wikipedia’s guide on writing your first article. It contains a lot of the pitfalls that new writers often make, so since you’re going to be contributing something to the common pool of knowledge, don’t feel bad for taking something out of it too, it’s self-replenishing!
- Verify that the article hasn’t been written already by searching for it in the Wikipedia search bar. You should see a result that says “The page “Whatever you searched for” does not exist. Click on the red link to “Whatever you searched for.”
- You should see that the page states, “Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name.” You should read the bullet points on this page carefully because they will guide you through making sure the page wasn’t created in the past and deleted. Go ahead and click through to start creating the page.
- You should see on the right a prompt to “start your new article at Special:Mypage/Your search team” – click on that so that you can develop the article in a sandbox where it won’t be deleted as you work on it. After you finish it, you can ask other editors to take a look and move it into a live article after it’s finished.
- Keep making improvements! Wikipedia has a principle of publishing early and often, the page doesn’t need to be perfect to publish if it’s on an appropriate subject, other editors will come in and help you. Remember to assume good intentions, and they will do the same of you!
Tips for writing on Wikipedia
- Make sure the length of your article is appropriate for Wikipedia. Aim for at least 1000 words, but try to keep it shorter than 6000.
- If you write an article that is too short it might result in a merge.
- If you write an article that is too long it could be broken up into many sub articles.
- Keep a neutral point of view.
- Provide citations for all of your sources