I gave tips to people about editing Wikipedia or getting missing content into Wikipedia over and over again, via email, blog comments etc. So I decided to put one up here, which makes it much better accessible for anybody who is interested in this subject. You might also want to see my previous article about Wikipedia article quality assessment.
I consider this the “short version” and it focuses on the content itself and not on “Wikipolitics”, which plays also a role, but is virtually impossible to summarize in a single post or article, without reducing it to a skeleton that is not practical and not realistic at all. The rules for content in Wikipedia are simple and for the most part straight forward actually (even if most people believe that it takes a lot).
- For every claim made provide a “Reliable Source” that verifies that claim. What is a reliable source: See WP:RS. This addresses the problem of Verifiability (see WP:V). If it cannot be verified and is not backed up by a reliable source, don’t add it.
- Do not only provide one side of the story or only provide positive things and exclude the negative. This is covered under WP:NPOV, which means “Neutral Point of View“. This is the key reason why “Conflict of Interest” (WP:COI) edits are a problem. If you have a personal or commercial interest in something, then you will have a hard time to be neutral about it at the same time. A sales brochure text is also not “neutral” and the reason why they are removed and whole articles are being “speedy deleted“. Not because of the fact that it is a brochure, but because of the fact that it is not “neutral”.
- Don’t write your own opinion or thesis about the subject. This is covered by the rules “No Original Research” or WP:NOR.
Verifiable, Neutral Point of View and No Original Research are the three key policies where all other policies derive from. I have a good quote of a guideline on my Wiki Resources page at Wikipedia. The source page (a guidelines page for Wikipedia administrators) where I got it from, was recent changed, but basically states the same as my old quote, with the exception of the addition of “not violate copyright” (WP:CP).
“Wikipedia policy, which requires that articles and information be verifiable, avoid being original research, not violate copyright, and be written from a neutral point of view is not negotiable, and cannot be superseded by any other guidelines or by editors’ consensus”
Quote from WP:DGFA
Some examples of derived rules that are used very often when content is being challenged: The infamous WP:EL rule for “External Links“. Rule of thumb: Don’t link, if it does not serve the purpose of verifiability. There are a few exceptions from that rule, which include articles about companies, organizations, living persons and published content, including copyrighted material that cannot be included in Wikipedia and must be referred to, if no free source of that content is available.
Also implied in this is another infamous rule, used as argument for removal of articles from Wikipedia, “Notability” or WP:N. If you have reliable sources about the subject of an article, then it also proves its notability. If it is not notable, then you usually run into the problem of not finding any reliable sources to backup your claims.
You follow those rules and you will be fine.
If the article is about you, a relative, your business or your employer, other editors like me can help with working on the “neutral” part of an article. It’s hard to change who you are and what you are, trust me on that :) . You should also NOT do the edit yourself, even if the content meets the mentioned criteria, because this avoids the COI allegation issue.
You could fall “victim” to a COI allegation (justified or not), only because you did the edit yourself and somebody finds out about your direct connection and “conflict of interest” to the article later. For changes to an existing article use the talk page to suggest the change or addition. Introduce yourself and state who you are and what your relationship to subject of the article is.
For new articles contact Wikipedians who edited and/or created articles to related subjects already (look for edits that are content additions and not just spam removals, administrative edits (templates added, category assignment etc.) or typo corrections). Don’t offer anything, except for a “thank you” (a VERBAL thank you ONLY). You might be surprised how many active editors might be willing to help you, if you made sure that you followed the outlined rules. Why would they do that?
- They showed already interest in the general subject by doing contributions to other related articles.
- Content additions are done by people who did not like the fact that some topics were missing or insufficient in Wikipedia and felt the need to do something about it actively (instead of just writing or talking about what’s missing or bad about content in Wikipedia)
- The creation of a well written article with good references does look good in the editors track record and writing an article is not as easy for an editor, because he has to spend time looking for references and mentions of the subject. It saves the editor a lot of time to get the content ready and up on the site.
Update December 9, 2007: There is a tool called Wiki Dashboard that allows you to browse Wikipedia and see as an overlay the editors who contributed the most to the currently loaded page. It shows the name of the editors, percentage of the content contributed by the editor to the current version of the page and number of edits made to the article by the editor. This allows you to determine quickly the editors that might be able to help you with your article.
I hope this might helps. Happy Wikipedia editing and cheers!