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4.621, Orientalism Seminar - Editing and Contributing to Wikipedia: Home


This guide is designed to introduce new Wikipedians to the basics of contributing to one of the largest open educational resources in the world. It provides a brief overview of editing existing entries and creating new entries. This very basic introduction to editing can be supplemented with this helpful pdf brochure from WikipediaAll of the content below is sourced from the Wikipedia help documentation and Adeline Koh and Roopika Risam's Rewriting Wikipedia Project, especially their guide to How to Create Wikipedia Entries that Will Stick.

Meet your Fellow Wikipedia Contributors

5 Pillars and Notability

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

What Wikipedia is Not

  • A paper encyclopedia or a dictionary.
  • A publisher of original thought.
  • An indiscriminate collection of information.
  • A personal blog or social networking vehicle.
  • A means of promotion.
  • A repository of links, images, or media files.
  • A directory, manual, textbook, or scientific journal.
  • A democracy, bureaucracy, battleground, or anarchy.
  • A crystal ball.


"If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list.

  • 'Significant coverage' addresses the topic directly and in detail, so that no original research is needed to extract the content. Significant coverage is more than a trivial mention but it need not be the main topic of the source material.[1]
  • 'Reliable' means sources need editorial integrity to allow verifiable evaluation of notability, per the reliable source guideline. Sources may encompass published works in all forms and media, and in any language. Availability of secondary sources covering the subject is a good test for notability.
  • 'Sources' should be secondary sources, as those provide the most objective evidence of notability. There is no fixed number of sources required since sources vary in quality and depth of coverage, but multiple sources are generally expected. Sources do not have to be available online and do not have to be in English. Multiple publications from the same author or organization are usually regarded as a single source for the purposes of establishing notability.
  • 'Independent of the subject' excludes works produced by the article's subject or someone affiliated with it. For example, advertising, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject's website are not considered independent.
  • 'Presumed' means that significant coverage in reliable sources creates an assumption, not a guarantee, that a subject should be included. A more in-depth discussion might conclude that the topic actually should not have a stand-alone article—perhaps because it violates what Wikipedia is not, particularly the rule that Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information.

If a topic does not meet these criteria but still has some verifiable facts, it might be useful to discuss it within another article."

How-to Guides in Wikipedia

Things you can do to improve Wikipedia entries:

Improve content:

Improve references/citations:

Other things you can do in Wikipedia to add value:

SA+P and Wikipedia Librarian

Create an Account

  • Create an Account. You do not need to register a username to edit, but registration is strongly encouraged.
  • When you create a new account, you have certain privileges. Once you have been active in Wikipedia with your new account, you can attain certain access levels, which include the ability to start a new article. All of this (including the intricacies of what those privileges can be) is outlined on the User Access Levels page.

Conflicts of Interest