Wikipedia is home to over 5.8 million articles and growing. Chances are good that you yourself have used Wikipedia in the past either for research or leisure. It’s an open-source, collaborative online encyclopedia with multiple contributors and even more readers.

When it comes to contributions, Wikipedia encourages users to contribute to Wikipedia. It wants you to edit mistakes, create new pages, and be a part of the rapidly growing community. They’re looking for users who are willing to cite sources, deliver unbiased content, and keep all relative entries up to date.

Perhaps you have a topic in mind that you cannot locate an entry on a subject when running a search on the website, or have found a few mistakes on the page of your favorite rock band you want corrected. In this case, becoming a Wikipedia contributor may be in the cards.

How To Create & Contribute To a Wikipedia Page 

Though it has been established since 2011, Wikipedia is forever evolving. At its beginning, Wikipedia was completely open-source, allowing page creations and edits to be posted within seconds of completion. This lead to many inaccuracies such as errors, ideological biases, and nonsensical or irrelevant text.

Since the rise in popularity, some language editions of Wikipedia have seen fit to put restrictions on article creation and edits. Some pages have even been deemed semi-protected or extended confirmed protected which means only certain editors are able to modify them.

Prior to contributing to Wikipedia and diving too deep into your own modifications, it would be beneficial to become familiar with some of Wikipedia’s core policies. The primary core policies: neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research will be front and center after creating an account.

Creating a Wikipedia Account

Account creation to use the site has never been required, however, registering will grant a user more privileges. One of those privileges being the ability to create and edit site pages.

  • To create a Wikipedia account, navigate to the official website and select your preferred language.
  • From the Home page, click Create account which is located in the top-right corner.
  • Enter all required information into the respective text fields and click Create your account.
  • This is when you’ll be taken to the Core Policies page. You should notice that the ribbon at the top of the page has changed.

Before proceeding, make sure that you confirm your email address. You should receive a confirmation email almost immediately after account creation. It will be found in the inbox of the email address you associated with your new account.

Contribute to Wikipedia by Creating a Wikipedia Page

  • To begin with page creation you will first need to ensure that your subject has not already been covered. Enter the topic into the search bar and see if a result populates. 
  • If a topic is already covered, the best you can do is contribute your knowledge to it. For topics that are not yet covered, the results will appear as such:
  • When this happens you can click the result or press Enter. This will bring you to the search results page. Because the page does not yet exist on Wikipedia, you should see a paragraph like the following:
  • Click on the ask for it to be created  link to proceed. You should now be on the Articles for Creation page which will go over some of your options. Reading up on Help:Your first article will guide you on how best to avoid making newbie mistakes. 
  • There is also a section, Submitting for review, that you should also read before clicking Click here to start a new article.

Wikipedia Article Wizard

The Wikipedia Article Wizard will now be your guide. It will advise you to practice editing within your sandbox prior to creating a live draft article. The choice is yours but anyone just starting out may find it a boon to have an area where they can make mistakes freely in order to get a feel for the editing process.

Your sandbox is essentially your own user page where you can add things about yourself that can be visible publicly or not. It’s a great source for new editors to get a taste of what they can expect moving forward.

  • Continue on through the Wizard by clicking the Next button at the bottom of each page. Make sure to read each page in full as the information is invaluable to your contribution efforts. 
  • Eventually, you will come to a page that asks about your connection to the subject you intend to create a page for.
  • By choosing I’m not connected to the subject you can begin writing your page’s draft. Either of the other buttons will require that you edit and publish acknowledgement on your user page about your relationship with the topic. 
  • I’m writing about something close to me is discouraged by Wikipedia as they claim it is harder to remain neutral. You will need to disclose your relationship to the subject.
  • I’m paid to edit requires the name of your employer or client in order to keep a civil relationship with the Wikipedia community. 
  • Regardless, for this article, we’ll have no connection to the subject of our page. All you’ll need to do now is come up with the name of your draft page and click Create new article draft.

Editing Your Wikipedia Page

Immediately, you’re asked to either Start editing or if you’d like to Switch to the visual editor.

If you have yet to familiarize yourself with WikiText, it will be far simpler to switch over to the visual editor. 

Keep in mind that moving forward, learning WikiText, which uses the Markup language, will benefit you in the long run. For the article, we’ll use the visual editor.

A new page should look something like this:

Be sure to read the instructions and refer to the Wikipedia Cheatsheet for help with properly formatting your page. The cheatsheet provides markup information on how to format text, create links, citations, references, and footnotes, as well as many other additions and alterations for either visual or source editor.

Using the visual editor won’t require the use of the cheatsheet but it is there when you want it. If you ever wish to switch between editors you can click the Switch editor icon found on the menu bar.

When you begin writing, the instructions window will disappear. If you need to, you can click the Edit notices icon to pull it back out.

Aside from that, the process is rather straightforward. Enter your text into the blank field, just be sure not to remove the required line already in place. Doing so will prevent publication of the page as it will not go through the drafting process.

With the visual editor you can change the font, add links, make citations, create bullet lists, insert images, tables, and more. Whatever your page needs, Wikipedia has you covered. 

All inline citations will automatically appear in the References section so no need to double up. Citations will be required for anything presented as fact on your page.

Adhere to the rules, create a compelling and informative page, and once you’re ready click the Publish page button. Your draft will be saved in a public area where you can continue to work on it whenever you’d like. 

It could take several weeks before your draft is reviewed and either approved or denied. In that time you can continue to add to it and make edits where necessary. Just be sure that it doesn’t go six months without a single edit or the draft will be deleted.

Contributing To a Wikipedia Page

If you want to contribute to an already established Wikipedia page, you’ll need to look for one that hasn’t been classified as protected or semi-protected. Generally, any article that is semi-protected will only allow minimal editing to the page. 

You can decipher which articles have this protection by the lock icon on the page.

What you should be looking out for are pages that contain Stubs. A Stub tag is given to an article that is not yet complete, or written in full detail. While scouring the Wikipedia site you will come across incomplete pages with a Stub tag on them.

If you have something to add to a topic with a Stub tag you can click the expanding it link to be granted immediate editing privileges. 

Once you’ve added your modifications to the article you can click the Publish changes button. You will be greeted with a pop-up window asking you to summarize the edits made and to have them reviewed.

To simply be a contributor regardless of the topic, you can find a list of articles with Stub tags and those in need of expansion right on the Wikipedia site. You should also add any updated images pertaining to the subject you may have taken or found. An encyclopedia requires images so don’t be afraid to add a few. You will however, be required to provide detailed information on the source and the license of the image file. 

Another way to contribute to Wikipedia would be to remove spam and revert vandalism. Wikipedia has millions of readers and contributors perusing its resources daily. This tends to lead to some articles being vandalized by biased or malicious entities. You may find a page with broken or inappropriate links, nonsensical text, or articles that have been completely wiped. 

Wikipedia provides tools to allow a contributor to revert vandalism and restore a page to a previous state. Any person found consistently violating Wikipedia’s rules or persistently vandalizing a page should be reported to the Administrator Intervention against Vandalism (AIV) board.

Fighting Wikipedia Vandalism

Correcting incorrect information and fixing vandalized pages is also considered contribution. 

  • To help in this effort you should enable the gadget Twinkle, found in your user preferences.
  • You must be auto-confirmed to see the Twinkle gadget in Preferences. To become auto-confirmed your account must be older than four days and have a minimum of ten edits attributed to it.
  • Once Twinkle is enabled you can patrol all recent edits through the Recent changes link on the left side menu. It can be found under the “Interaction” section.
  • From here you can review all edits that have taken place recently and determine whether any of them are considered vandalism.
  • When vandalism has been discovered on a page, revert the edits and leave a user warning template on the page. If a fourth warning has been issued, you are able to report the user to the AIV.

You can help Wikipedia by correcting these wrongs and make it a better place for everyone who uses the site as their go-to source for information.