Wikipedia:Guidance for younger editors

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For the original version of this essay by Newyorkbrad, see this revision.

The most useful piece of advice is never give out any personal information that shows your real name, age, address, email, Facebook, or school on Wikipedia – or anywhere else publicly available on the Internet – even to people you know or think you might know in real life. Some sites have ways of restricting access to your personal information; most, including Wikipedia, do not.

The Simple English Wikipedia is an "encyclopedia that anyone can edit." There is no age limit for editing this Wikipedia or writing new articles. The quality of your edits and writing are important, not your age. However, younger editors may need advice on editing the Simple English Wikipedia – this page aims to be your guide.

Parents, guardians, teachers, and other adults may benefit from reading this page as well as Wikipedia:Advice for parents. There is also a development area at Wikipedia:Child protection. Read more about Wikipedia's privacy policy.

Your safety and security[change source]

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

Be sure to keep it that way!

You should be very careful about revealing any information about yourself. The best advice is: Do not reveal real-life information about yourself on Wikipedia. If you have questions about what information you should reveal or are allowed to reveal, discuss this with your parent or guardian.

  • Be careful what you write. Never add your address, email or phone number. Avoid saying who you are in your username, on your user page or anywhere else you post on Wikipedia. Also avoid revealing your town, city, or school, or adding information about your friends or family. Any of these things could be used to track you. If you use the same username on Wikipedia that you have used on other sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc., someone looking for information about you could learn what you have written on these other sites.
  • If you add revealing information. If you added something revealing by accident, ask an administrator to delete it. Even if you don't ask, an administrator or other editor may remove revealing information. Please do not be upset, as this will be done to protect you. You should feel free to talk to the editor who removed the information. Certain administrators, called Oversighters can hide this information securely.
  • It's not just Wikipedia. Although this guide is about Wikipedia, be careful when discussing yourself anywhere on the Internet. Just as with any other website, if you see something on Wikipedia that upsets you or makes you feel unsafe, it's a good idea to talk to your parents, carers, or other adults who you know and trust in real life.

Getting help[change source]

The Simple English Wikipedia is a community effort. There are plenty of other editors ready to help you.

  • For general help. If you would like to get some help from a more experienced user, please see the Wikipedia:Help page for the various ways you can request help from other editors.
  • Help with personal information. If you have already posted personal information and you now want to remove it, please talk to an administrator you trust. If you don't know someone who can help, or if the problem is urgent, please go to Wikipedia:Requests for oversight and follow the instructions there.

How you can contribute to Wikipedia[change source]

How can you contribute to the Simple English Wikipedia? Pretty much just like anyone else. There are a lot of guideline and policy pages, too many to list here. After your first edit, you will probably get a welcome message on your userpage. It will probably tell you how to get started on the Simple English Wikipedia.

Here are some things you can do that are valuable to the Simple English Wikipedia:

  • Work on articles. The most common thing to do is simply working on articles – adding material or correcting articles, and sometimes even writing entirely new articles. If you write a new article about a subject that belongs on Wikipedia, you have improved our encyclopedia, which is the main reason we are all here. Some new articles are deleted because they are considered unsuitable for Wikipedia for various reasons. For more information, see What Wikipedia is not and the section about working on articles below. If your work is deleted please don't be upset or take it personally: many of our best editors have had some of their articles deleted.
  • Help clean up. You can help stop vandalism by people who do not understand the reason for Wikipedia. You can join in community discussions, such as deciding which articles should be kept or deleted, or whether some of our policies should be changed, or which editors should be promoted to adminship.
  • Wikipedia isn't MySpace or Facebook. Working on your userpage will help you learn how "Wiki-coding" works (Wiki-coding isn't exactly the same thing as HTML, like on Myspace), but userpages are not really intended for socializing with friends, or for setting up games like "hidden pages". The improvement of the encyclopedia is the most important task here. Wikipedia is not a substitute for MySpace. If you spend some of your Wikipedia time working on "fun" or "social" pages, remember to keep this at a reasonable level compared with your other contributions.
  • The most important suggestion – have fun. Do what you enjoy working on. All of us, of whatever age, work on Wikipedia mostly because we have fun when we do. So do what you enjoy and what you are good at. If you enjoy finding spelling mistakes in articles and fixing them, do it. If you enjoy reverting vandal edits and reporting repeat vandals to be blocked, do it. If you enjoy spending some time in the library to find material to add to an article, do it. If you enjoy working on image files, do it.

Working on articles[change source]

The Simple English Wikipedia has many policies about articles. These are especially important:

  • Living persons. The policy at biographies of living persons covers articles about living people. Controversial information must use reliable sources. Material that invades someone’s privacy should not be included, even if it is true. Information that violates the policy will be deleted on sight. Any improper material could be read by thousands of people. If you don't know if something might violate the policy, discuss it with another editor first.
  • Reliable sources. A reliable source is a source of information like a regular newspaper or book. Facts you include in your articles should be linked to good sources, especially if they are controversial.
  • Notability. The guideline is at Wikipedia:Notability. If the subject is not notable, it may get deleted. Try to learn so that your next article will be kept.
  • Remember that some articles and areas of the encyclopedia may be unsuitable for minors. Wikipedia covers a lot of subjects, and is not censored. We have much material that your parents, guardians, teachers or others may consider to be unsuitable for you to be involved with. Please discuss your Wikipedia work with a responsible adult.
  • Keep plagiarism in mind. You are not allowed to copy other people's work from web pages or books and add it to Wikipedia. Read Copyright before adding content.
  • Keeping it Simple. This wikipedia needs to written in simple English. Read the guidelines for Simple English for more details

Working with other editors[change source]

Getting along with your fellow editors is a crucial part of success on Wikipedia.

Just as you can edit Wikipedia, so can anyone else. Try to get along with them.

  • Be polite and discuss with other editors. Editors must be polite and not make any personal attacks. When problems or issues arise, discuss the disagreement and try to work it out. Don't keep changing the article back-and-forth or start calling each other names. There are procedures available for asking for help from experienced editors when these types of disagreements arise.
  • Pay attention to feedback. If someone points out that you made a mistake, thank him or her for telling you, and try not to make the same mistake again. If someone raises a concern about an edit you have made, explain why you said what you said or did what you did. All experienced Wikipedia editors have learned from the comments and criticisms that we have heard from each another every day.
  • What to do about warnings. If you receive a warning message from another editor, think very carefully about what it says. You may have done something wrong. If the warning is correct, accept that and avoid repeating the mistake. If you think the warning is wrong, politely discuss it with the person who warned you, or with an administrator.
  • If you have a problem. No one is entitled to be rude to you or talk down to you. If that happens, and the person does not stop when you ask him or her to, don't respond in the same way. Raise the problem with an administrator or on a noticeboard.
  • Respect other editors' experience. Sometimes another editor may know more than you do about a given topic. Your information and contributions are just as valuable as everyone else's, but remember that another editor working with you on an article might be one of the world's leading experts on that topic! Just as you want to be respected for who you are and what you are ready to contribute, you also must be ready to respect everyone else.
  • Develop a good reputation. Most of your fellow editors will not judge you by your age, even if they know what it is, which they often won’t. But they will judge you by your maturity as it reflects on the page. There is nothing wrong with having a good time when working on Wikipedia, but most of the time it will pay to be serious. Over your time on Wikipedia, you will develop a reputation for the quality of your work – you will want to make sure it is a good one.
  • Your signature. You may create a custom signature, but remember that it should follow the advice at Wikipedia:Signatures; it should be easy for other editors to recognize your name and a link to your talk page, without excess markup, fonts, and colors.

Recognition for your contributions[change source]

Pretty icons are nice, but they shouldn't be your only reason for contributing to articles.

There are lots of ways that Wikipedians recognize each other's good work.

  • Barnstars. An editor can place a "barnstar" on your talk page for an especially fine change or changes.
  • How articles are rated. There are also systems for judging the quality of articles. A well written article may be rated as a good article (GA). A very well written article may be awarded the title of featured article (FA), meaning that it is one of the best articles in all of Wikipedia and may be given a turn as the featured article on the main page. A new or expanded article with an interesting fact may be listed in the Did you know? (DYK) section of the main page.
  • Winning awards. Feel free to help us choose Wikipedia's best work, and to help make it. But remember: Wikipedia is about working together to make an encyclopedia while having fun – not about winning awards. If you make an article that becomes a DYK or GA or even a featured article, you should be proud. But some people spend a little too much time worrying about how many barnstars or awards or recognitions they have. Barnstars and awards are recognition of achievement, not achievements themselves.

Becoming an administrator[change source]

The elusive "mop"

After you have edited for a while, and gained experience at a wide variety of Wikipedia responsibilities, you may wish to become an administrator.

  • What an administrator is. Being an administrator is not a rank that makes you better or more important than other users! Rather, adminship is just a set of additional tools, and responsibilities that go with them. Among other things, administrators have the ability to delete pages, to block users from editing, and to close certain types of community discussions. They are expected to do these things according to policies and only in the best interests of the project.
  • A common mistake made by some younger editors is seeking adminship too soon. If the information on this page is still new to you, then you are not yet ready to become an administrator. By the time you are ready to consider adminship, it is likely that several more experienced editors will have asked you if you are interested in being nominated. If you are unsure whether you are ready for adminship yet, then usually it is best to wait a little longer until you do feel sure.
  • Being an administrator, especially if you work in controversial areas, can put you under increased scrutiny. This may result in people trying to discover personal information about you. If you are uncomfortable about this, you may wish to consider this carefully when applying for adminship.
  • How to become an administrator. The process of becoming an administrator is described on Wikipedia:Requests for adminship. A candidate for adminship must be nominated (either by another user or by himself or herself), answer a series of questions, and then is subject to a 7-day community discussion as to whether he or she is qualified to become an administrator. Successful candidates for adminship will almost always have edited Wikipedia for at least several months and will have thousands of edits in various areas of the project.
  • Passwords. Wikipedia does not allow editors to tell anyone their passwords. If you are not an admin your parents, guardians and anyone else can see as much about your edits as you can. The only edits they can't see are the ones that have been deleted, but you can't see them either. Editors with admin rights are given access to information that is not publicly available; If your parents or guardians don't yet trust you to have access to material that you may not share with them, then you are not yet ready to become an admin.

A sense of perspective[change source]

Wikipedia is a worthwhile and enjoyable place, but homework comes first!
  • Wikipedia sure can be fun – and it also can eat up far too much time.
  • Schoolwork is far more important than Wikipedia. So is physical activity, and remembering that there is a real-life world out there.

If you do take a break (called a "Wikibreak" of all things), you can just put a note on your userpage, and relax for a while. We know you will be back at some point when you have taken care of the more important things in life.

A final word[change source]

Some people think our younger editors do not have the maturity, knowledge, skills, or attitudes needed to work on Wikipedia. Prove them wrong.