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Michigan State University

Editing and contributing content to Wikipedia

wikipedia logoWelcome!

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 pdf brochure from Wikipedia.

The content on this page is sourced from Wikipedia's help documentation, Cornell University Library's guide, and Adeline Koh and Roopika Risam's Rewriting Wikipedia Project.

Create an Account

  • Create an account. You do not need to register a username to edit, but registration is strongly encouraged.
  • Limits of being a new user.

Tip:   A classroom full of new Wikipedia editors may get blocked because they're all contributing from the same IP address with new accounts. For class assignments, you might structure work to be done at home/off-campus.

Quick Definitions

  • Article class: An article rating system, based on quality and/or length of an article. Classes are often assigned by WikiProject members, though the highest article classes are assigned by independent review boards. Stub Class and Start Class articles are typically the articles which need the most work; C- and B-Class articles fall in the middle; Good and Featured articles tend to be of the highest quality.
  • Sandbox: A page (often specific to your user account) for testing, drafting and playing around on Wikipedia.
  • Talk page: A page attached to each Wikipedia article used for discussion, debate and collaboration between editors.
  • Template: A piece of code or text that will display a predetermined object or function in a Wikipedia page. Templates allow editors to quickly insert formatting into an article without re-inventing the wheel each time.
  • Watchlist: A list of articles which you, an editor, choose to monitor. The watchlist tracks any recent edits to any articles you choose to “watch.”
  • Wiki Markup Language: A system of symbols used to format text within Wikipedia. Similar in concept to HTML or other markup languages, but much simpler and more readable.

Ideas for Editing

Ways to begin

  • The Community portal links to a variety of introductory pages for new editors, and includes lists of editing tasks you can work on, including adding images, fixing links, and more.

  • Template messages\Cleanup: These messages are used to notify other editors that an entry could use some work.

Like to write?

Like to do research?

Of local interest

Michigan State University