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Wikipedia: Editing and Use

Background information and basic tools for editing Wikipedia, as well as guidelines for when and how to use it in your research.


This guide provides background information and basic tools for editing Wikipedia as well as details on UCLA events and programs about using and editing Wikipedia.  It also introduces other Wikimedia Foundation initiatives that may be of interest to researchers, librarians and students.   The Literature About Wikipedia section compiles selected literature on controversial issues surrounding Wikipedia as a research tool and as an open educational resource.  If you have any questions about this guide, please contact Margarita Nafpaktitis.

What Is Wikipedia?

WikipediaAccording to, Wikipedia is "a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation." At UCLA, students, faculty, and staff all use it to find general information and somtimes even do research -- although not everyone understands its strengths and limitations. Editing Wikipedia is not only an accessible way to contribute to the larger public good but it's also a great starting point for developing a full understanding of when and how to use it in our own lives and work.

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
  • Wikipedia has a neutral point of view.
  • Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit and distribute.
  • Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner.
  • Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles presented here.

Read more on Wikipedia:Five Pillars

The Wikipedia Adventure: An Interactive Tutorial for New Editors

Wikipedia is not a game, but learning it should still be fun! The Wikipedia Adventure is a 7-mission interactive guided tour which introduces new editors to basic editing, social, and policy skills. The Wikipedia Adventure is an online guided journey, a learning tutorial, and an educational game designed to make an editor's first 100 edits a positive and encouraging experience. The game takes the user from the first rudiments of editing—registering an account, creating a user page, basic markup — all the way through to more intermediate tasks such as adding images and references and asking for help at noticeboards.

How Wikipedia Works

Download this free e-book by Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates (No Starch Press, 2008) for a more in-depth look at How Wikipedia Works, And How You Can Be a Part of It. Part I explains how Wikipedia came to be and how to understand and evaluate an article. Part II sets forth information on how to edit a wikipedia article, and Part III discusses what it means to become part of the Wikipedia community. Part IV provides an overview of other projects sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation.