Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, an online community of individuals interested in building a high-quality encyclopedia in a spirit of mutual respect. Therefore, there are certain things that Wikipedia is not.
Style and formatEdit
Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopediaEdit
Template:Policy shortcut Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, but a digital encyclopedia project. Other than verifiability and the other points presented on this page, there is no practical limit to the number of topics Wikipedia can cover, or the total amount of content. However, there is an important distinction between what can be done, and what should be done, which is covered in the Content section below. Consequently, this policy is not a free pass for inclusion: articles must abide by the appropriate content policies, particularly those covered in the five pillars.
Keeping articles to a reasonable size is important for Wikipedia's accessibility, especially for dial-up and mobile browser readers, since it directly affects page download time (see Wikipedia:Article size). Splitting long articles and leaving adequate summaries is a natural part of growth for a topic (see Wikipedia:Summary style). Some topics are covered by print encyclopedias only in short, static articles, but we can include more information, provide more external links, and update more quickly. For some of the other ways in which Wikipedia differs from a paper publication, see the Wikipedia:Manual of Style.
In any encyclopedia, information cannot be included solely for being true or useful. Although there are debates about the encyclopedic merits of several classes of entries, consensus is that the following are good examples of what Wikipedia is not. The examples under each section are not intended to be exhaustive.
Wikipedia is not a dictionaryEdit
Wikipedia is not a dictionary, usage, or jargon guide. Wikipedia articles are not:
- Definitions. Although articles should begin with a good definition and description of one topic, they should provide other types of information about that topic as well. If possible, articles that contain nothing more than a definition should be expanded with additional encyclopedic content.
- Dictionary entries. Encyclopedia articles are about a person, or a group, a concept, a place, a thing, an event, etc. In some cases, a word or phrase itself may be an encyclopedic subject, such as Macedonia (terminology) or truthiness. However, articles rarely, if ever, contain more than one distinct definition or usage of the article's title. Articles about the cultural or mathematical significance of individual numbers are also acceptable.
For a wiki that is a dictionary, visit our sister project Wiktionary. Dictionary definitions should be transwikied there.
- Usage, slang, and/or idiom guides. Descriptive articles about languages, dialects, or types of slang (such as Klingon language, Cockney, or Leet) are desirable. Prescriptive guides for prospective speakers of such languages are not. See "Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook, or scientific journal" below for more information.
For a wiki that is a collection of guidebooks, visit our sister project Wikibooks. Prescriptive guides for prospective speakers of a language should be transwikied there.
Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thoughtEdit
Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own thoughts and analyses or to publish new information. Per our policy on original research, please do not use Wikipedia for any of the following:
- Primary (original) research. such as proposing theories and solutions, original ideas, defining terms, coining new words, etc. If you have completed primary research on a topic, publish your results in other venues, such as peer-reviewed journals, other printed forms, or respected online sites. Wikipedia can report about your work once it is published and becomes part of accepted knowledge; however, citations of such reliable sources are needed to demonstrate that material is verifiable, and not merely the editor's opinion.
- Personal inventions. If you or a friend invented the word frindle, a drinking game, or a new type of dance move, it is not notable enough to be an article until multiple, independent, and reliable secondary sources report on it. Wikipedia is not for things made up one day.
- Personal essays that state your particular feelings about a topic (rather than the opinion of experts). Although Wikipedia is supposed to compile human knowledge, it is not a vehicle to make personal opinions become part of such knowledge. In the unusual situation where the opinions of an individual are important enough to discuss, it is preferable to let other people write about them. Personal essays on topics relating to Wikipedia are welcome in your user namespace or on the Meta-wiki. There is a Wikipedia fork at Wikinfo that encourages personal opinions in articles.
- Discussion forums. Please try to stay on the task of creating an encyclopedia. You can chat with people about Wikipedia-related topics on their user talk pages, and should resolve problems with articles on the relevant talk pages, but please do not take discussion into articles. In addition, bear in mind that talk pages exist for the purpose of discussing how to improve articles. Talk pages are not mere general discussion pages about the subject of the article, nor are they a helpdesk for obtaining instructions or technical assistance. If you wish to ask a specific question on a topic, Wikipedia has a Reference desk, and questions should be asked there rather than on talk pages. Wikipedians who wish to hold casual discussions with fellow Wikipedians can use the IRC channels, such as #wikipedia. Note that this is an IRC channel, not a message board. There are also a number of early-stage projects that attempt to use a wiki for discussion and debate. Material unsuitable for talk pages may be subject to removal per the talk page guidelines.
- Journalism. Wikipedia should not offer first-hand news reports on breaking stories. Wikipedia is not a primary source. However, our sister projects Wikisource and Wikinews do exactly that, and are intended to be primary sources. Wikipedia does have many encyclopedia articles on topics of historical significance that are currently in the news, and can be updated with recently verified information.
Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotionEdit
Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a battleground, or a vehicle for propaganda, advertising and showcasing. This applies to articles, categories, templates, talk page discussions, and user pages. Therefore, content hosted in Wikipedia is not for:
- Advocacy, propaganda, or recruitment of any kind: commercial, political, religious, sports-related, or otherwise. Of course, an article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to describe the topic from a neutral point of view. You might wish to start a blog or visit a forum if you want to convince people of the merits of your favorite views.
- Opinion pieces. Although some topics, particularly those concerning current affairs and politics, may stir passions and tempt people to "climb soapboxes" (i.e. passionately advocate their pet point of view), Wikipedia is not the medium for this. Articles must be balanced to put entries, especially for current events, in a reasonable perspective, and represent a neutral point of view. Furthermore, Wikipedia authors should strive to write articles that will not quickly become obsolete. However, Wikipedia's sister project Wikinews allows commentaries on its articles.
- Scandal mongering, something "heard through the grapevine" or gossip. Articles and content about living people are required to meet an especially high standard, as they may otherwise be libellous or infringe the subjects' right to privacy. Articles should not be written purely to attack the reputation of another person.
- Self-promotion. It can be tempting to write about yourself or projects in which you have a strong personal involvement. However, do remember that the standards for encyclopedic articles apply to such pages just like any other. This includes the requirement to maintain a neutral point of view, which is difficult when writing about yourself or about projects close to you. Creating overly abundant links and references to autobiographical sources is unacceptable. See Wikipedia:Autobiography, Wikipedia:Notability and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest.
- Advertising. All information about companies and products are written in an objective and unbiased style. Article topics must be third-party verifiable, so articles about very small "garage" or local companies are typically unacceptable. External links to commercial organizations are acceptable if they identify major organizations which are the topic of the article. Wikipedia neither endorses organizations nor runs affiliate programs. See also Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) for guidelines on corporate notability. Those promoting causes or events, or issuing public service announcements, even if noncommercial, should use a forum other than Wikipedia to do so.
Non-disruptive statements of opinion on internal Wikipedia policies and guidelines may be made on user pages, as they are relevant to the current and future operation of the project.
- Mere collections of external links or Internet directories. There is nothing wrong with adding one or more useful content-relevant links to an article; however, excessive lists can dwarf articles and detract from the purpose of Wikipedia. On articles about topics with many fansites, for example, including a link to one major fansite may be appropriate. See Wikipedia:External links for some guidelines.
- Mere collections of internal links, except for disambiguation pages when an article title is ambiguous, and for lists to assist with article organization and navigation; for these, please follow the guidelines outlined at Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists#Lead and selection criteria.
- Mere collections of public domain or other source material such as entire books or source code, original historical documents, letters, laws, proclamations, and other source material that are only useful when presented with their original, unmodified wording. Complete copies of primary sources may go into Wikisource, but not on Wikipedia. Public domain resources such as 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica may be used to add content to an article (see Wikipedia:Plagiarism#Public_domain_sources for guidelines on doing so). See also Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources and Wikisource's inclusion policy.
- Mere collections of photographs or media files with no text to go with the articles. If you are interested in presenting a picture, please provide an encyclopedic context, or consider adding it to Wikimedia Commons. If a picture comes from a public domain source on a website, then consider adding it to Wikipedia:Images with missing articles or Wikipedia:Public domain image resources.
- Personal web pages. Wikipedians have their own user pages, but they may be used only to present information relevant to working on the encyclopedia. If you are looking to make a personal webpage or blog or to post your resume, please make use of one of the many free providers on the Internet or any hosting included with your Internet account. The focus of user pages should not be social networking, or amusement, but rather providing a foundation for effective collaboration. Humorous pages that refer to Wikipedia in some way may be created in an appropriate namespace, however.
- File storage areas. Please upload only files that are used (or will be used) in encyclopedia articles or project pages; anything else will be deleted. If you have extra relevant images, consider uploading them to the Wikimedia Commons, where they can be linked from Wikipedia.
- Dating services. Wikipedia is not an appropriate place to pursue relationships or sexual encounters. User pages that move beyond broad expressions of sexual orientation are unacceptable. However, you very well may make new friendships as you go about improving the encyclopedia.
- Memorials. Subjects of encyclopedia articles must satisfy Wikipedia's notability requirements. Wikipedia is not the place to memorialize deceased friends, relatives, acquaintances, or others who do not meet such requirements. Note that this policy does not apply outside of the main article space. While using user space to create a memorial is generally not acceptable, limited exemption applies to the user space of established Wikipedians who have died. At a minimum it is expected that they were regular contributors, and that more than one tenured Wikipedian will have used the deceased user's page (or an appropriate sub-page) to add comments in the event, and after verification, of their death.
If you are interested in using the wiki technology for a collaborative effort on something else, even if it is just a single page, there are many free and commercial sites that provide wiki hosting. You can also install wiki software on your server. See the Wiki Science wikibook for information on doing this. Scratchpad Wiki Labs also allows personal wikis. See also Wikipedia:Alternative outlets.
Many of the content restrictions listed above apply to your user page and user talk page as well. Your user page is not a personal homepage, nor is it a blog. More importantly, your user page is not yours. It is a part of Wikipedia, and exists to make collaboration among Wikipedians easier, not for self-promotion. See User page help for current consensus guidelines on user pages
Wikipedia is not a directoryEdit
Template:Redirect Template:Policy shortcut Wikipedia is not a directory of everything that exists or has existed. Please see Wikipedia:Alternative outlets for alternatives. Wikipedia articles are not:
- Lists or repositories of loosely associated topics such as (but not limited to) quotations, aphorisms, or persons (real or fictional). If you want to enter lists of quotations, put them into our sister project Wikiquote. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having lists if their entries are famous because they are associated with or significantly contribute to the list topic. Wikipedia also includes reference tables and tabular information for quick reference. Merged groups of small articles based on a core topic are certainly permitted. (See Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists#Appropriate topics for lists for clarification.)
- Genealogical entries. Biography articles should only be for people with some sort of fame, achievement, or perhaps notoriety. One measure of these is whether someone has been featured in several external sources (on or off-line). Less well-known people may be mentioned within other articles (e.g. Ronald Gay in Violence against LGBT people). See m:Wikipeople for a proposed genealogical/biographical dictionary project.
- The White or Yellow Pages. Contact information such as phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses are not encyclopedic.
- Directories, directory entries, electronic program guide, or a resource for conducting business. For example, an article on a radio station should not list upcoming events, current promotions, current schedules, et cetera, although mention of major events, promotions or historically significant programme lists and schedules may be acceptable. Likewise an article on a business should not contain a list of all the company's patent filings. Furthermore, the Talk pages associated with an article are for talking about the article, not for conducting the business of the topic of the article.
- Sales catalogs. Product prices should not be quoted in an article unless they can be sourced and there is a justified reason for their mention. In general, if mainstream media sources (not just product reviews) provide commentary on the price of an object instead of just passing mention, this is an indication that its price may have encyclopedic significance. Prices listed by individual vendors, on the other hand, can vary widely from place to place and over time. Wikipedia is not a price comparison service to be used to compare the prices of competing products, or the prices of a single product from different vendors.
- Non-encyclopedic cross-categorizations, such as "People from ethnic/cultural/religious group X employed by organization Y" or "Restaurants specializing in food type X in city Y". Cross-categories like these are not considered sufficient basis to create an article, unless the intersection of those categories is in some way a culturally significant phenomenon. See also Wikipedia:Overcategorization for this issue in categories.
- A complete exposition of all possible details. Rather, an article is a summary of accepted knowledge regarding its subject. Treat verifiable and sourced statements with appropriate weight.
Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook, or scientific journalEdit
Wikipedia is an encyclopedic reference, not an instruction manual, guidebook, or textbook. Wikipedia articles should not read like:
- Instruction manuals. While Wikipedia has descriptions of people, places and things, an article should not read like a "how-to" style owners manual, advice column (legal, medical or otherwise) or suggestion box. This includes tutorials, walk-throughs, instruction manuals, game guides, and recipes. If you are interested in a "how-to" type of manual, you may want to look at wikiHow, How to Wiki or our sister project, Wikibooks.
- Travel guides. An article on Paris should mention landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but not the telephone number or street address of your favorite hotel or the current price of a café au lait on the Champs-Élysées. Wikipedia is not the place to recreate content more suited to entries in hotel or culinary guides, travelogues, and the like. Notable locations may meet the inclusion criteria, but the resulting articles need not include every tourist attraction, restaurant, hotel or venue, etc. Such details may be welcome at Wikitravel, or Wikia travel instead.
- Internet guides. Wikipedia articles should not exist only to describe the nature, appearance or services a website offers, but should also describe the site in an encyclopedic manner, offering detail on a website's achievements, impact or historical significance, which can be kept significantly more up-to-date than most reference sources, since editors can incorporate new developments and facts as they are made known. See the Current events portal for examples.
- Textbooks and annotated texts. Wikipedia is an encyclopedic reference, not a textbook. The purpose of Wikipedia is to present facts, not to teach subject matter. It is not appropriate to create or edit articles that read as textbooks, with leading questions and systematic problem solutions as examples. These belong on our sister projects, such as Wikibooks, Wikisource, and Wikiversity. Other kinds of examples, specifically those intended to inform rather than to instruct, may be appropriate for inclusion in a Wikipedia article.
- Scientific journals and research papers. A Wikipedia article should not be presented on the assumption that the reader is well versed in the topic's field. Introductory language in the lead and initial sections of the article should be written in plain terms and concepts that can be understood by any literate reader of Wikipedia without any knowledge in the given field before advancing to more detailed explanations of the topic. While wikilinks should be provided for advanced terms and concepts in that field, articles should be written on the assumption that the reader will not or cannot follow these links, instead attempting to infer their meaning from the text.
- Case studies. Many topics are based on the relationship of factor X to factor Y, resulting in one or more full articles. For example, this could refer to situation X in location Y, or version X of item Y. This is perfectly acceptable when the two variables put together represent some culturally significant phenomenon or some otherwise notable interest. Often, separate articles are needed for a subject within a range of different countries, due to substantial differences across international borders; articles such as "Slate industry in Wales" and "Island Fox" are fitting examples. Writing about "Oak trees in North Carolina" or a "Blue truck", however, would likely constitute a POV fork or original research, and would otherwise be outright ridiculous.
- Academic language. Texts should be written for everyday readers, not for academics. Article titles should reflect common usage, not academic terminology, whenever possible.
Wikipedia is not a crystal ballEdit
Wikipedia is not a collection of unverifiable speculation. All articles about anticipated events must be verifiable, and the subject matter must be of sufficiently wide interest that it would merit an article if the event had already occurred. It is appropriate to report discussion and arguments about the prospects for success of future proposals and projects or whether some development will occur, if discussion is properly referenced. It is not appropriate for editors to insert their own opinions or analyses. In forward-looking articles about unreleased products, such as films and games, take special care to avoid advertising and unverified claims (for films, see WP:NFF). In particular:
- Individual scheduled or expected future events should only be included if the event is notable and almost certain to take place. Dates are not definite until the event actually takes place. If preparation for the event is not already in progress, speculation about it must be well documented. Examples of appropriate topics include the 2012 U.S. presidential election and 2020 Summer Olympics. By comparison, the 2020 U.S. presidential election and 2036 Summer Olympics are not appropriate article topics if nothing can be said about them that is verifiable and not original research. Avoid predicted sports team line-ups, which are inherently unverifiable and speculative. A schedule of future events may be appropriate if it can be verified.
- Individual items from a predetermined list or a systematic pattern of names, pre-assigned to future events or discoveries, are not suitable article topics, if only generic information is known about the item. Lists of tropical cyclone names is encyclopedic; "Tropical Storm Alberto (2012)" is not, even though it is virtually certain that a storm of that name will occur in the North Atlantic and will turn counterclockwise. Similarly, articles about words formed on a predictable numeric system (such as "septenquinquagintillion") are not encyclopedic unless they are defined on good authority, or genuinely in use. Certain scientific extrapolations are considered to be encyclopedic, such as chemical elements documented by IUPAC before isolation in the laboratory.
- Articles that present extrapolation, speculation, and "future history" are original research and therefore inappropriate. While scientific and cultural norms continually evolve, we must wait for this evolution to happen, rather than try to predict it. Of course, we do and should have articles about notable artistic works, essays, or credible research that embody predictions. An article on Weapons of Star Trek is appropriate; an article on "Weapons to be used in World War III" is not.
- While currently accepted scientific paradigms may later be rejected, and hypotheses previously held to be controversial or incorrect sometimes become accepted by the scientific community, it is not the place of Wikipedia to venture such projections.
Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of informationEdit
As explained in the policy introduction, merely being true, or even verifiable, does not automatically make something suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia. Wikipedia articles should not be:
- Plot-only description of fictional works. Wikipedia treats fiction in an encyclopedic manner, discussing the reception and significance of notable works. A concise plot summary is usually appropriate as part of this coverage. For more information, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (writing about fiction)#Plot summaries.
- Lyrics databases. Most song lyrics published after 1922 are protected by copyright, and any quotation of them must be kept to a minimum, and used for the purpose of direct commentary or to illustrate some aspect of the style. For songs in the public domain the article should not consist solely of the lyrics (Wikisource should be used for such articles instead), but should instead provide information about authorship, date of publication, social impact, and so on. Quotes from an out-of-copyright song should be kept to a reasonable length relative to the rest of the article, and used to facilitate discussion, or to illustrate the style; the full text can be put on Wikisource and linked to from the article. Never link to the lyrics of copyrighted songs unless the site linked to clearly has the right to distribute the work. See Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources for full discussion.
- Excessive listing of statistics. Long and sprawling lists of statistics may be confusing to readers and reduce the readability and neatness of our articles. In addition, articles should contain sufficient explanatory text to put statistics within the article in their proper context for a general reader. In cases where this may be necessary, (e.g. Nationwide opinion polling for the United States presidential election, 2008), consider using tables to enhance the readability of lengthy data lists.
- News reports. Wikipedia considers the enduring notability of persons and events. While news coverage can be useful source material for encyclopedic topics, most newsworthy events do not qualify for inclusion. For example, routine news reporting on things like announcements, sports, or celebrities is not a sufficient basis for inclusion in the encyclopedia. While including information on recent developments is sometimes appropriate, breaking news should not be emphasized or otherwise treated differently from other information. Timely news subjects not suitable for Wikipedia may be suitable for our sister project Wikinews. See also: Wikipedia:Notability (events)
- Who's who. Even when an event is notable, individuals involved in it may not be. Unless news coverage of an individual goes beyond the context of a single event, our coverage of that individual should be limited to the article about that event, in proportion to their importance to the overall topic. (See Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons for more details.)
- FAQs. Wikipedia articles should not list frequently asked questions (FAQs). Instead, format the information provided as neutral prose within the appropriate article(s).
Wikipedia is not censoredEdit
Wikipedia may contain content that some readers consider objectionable or offensive, even exceedingly so (see Wikipedia:Content disclaimer). Wikipedia cannot guarantee that articles or images will always be acceptable to all readers, or that they will adhere to general social or religious norms.
Since anyone can edit an article and most changes made are displayed immediately, inappropriate material may appear before it can be removed. Obviously inappropriate content (such as an irrelevant link to a shock site, or clear vandalism) is usually removed quickly. Content that is judged to violate Wikipedia's biographies of living persons policy, or that violates other Wikipedia policies (especially neutral point of view) or the laws of the U.S. state of Florida where Wikipedia's servers are hosted, will also be removed.
However, some articles may include text, images, or links which some people may find objectionable, when these materials are relevant to the content. Discussion of potentially objectionable content should not focus on its offensiveness but on whether it is appropriate to include in a given article. Beyond that, "being objectionable" is generally not sufficient grounds for removal of content.
Nor will Wikipedia remove content because the internal bylaws of some organizations forbid that information to be displayed online. Any rules that forbid members of a given organization, fraternity, or religion to show a name or image do not apply to Wikipedia because Wikipedia is not a member of those organizations.
The above policies are about Wikipedia's content. The following policies apply to Wikipedia's governance and processes.
Wikipedia is not a democracyEdit
Wikipedia is political system. Its primary but not exclusive method of determining consensus is through editing and discussion, not voting. Although editors occasionally use straw polls in an attempt to test for consensus, polls or surveys sometimes impede rather than assist discussion.or any other
Straw votes should be used with caution, and are no more binding than any other consensus decision. Elections and votes are only endorsed for things that take place outside Wikipedia proper, such as when electing the Arbitration Committee.
Wikipedia is not a bureaucracyEdit
Wikipedia is not governed by statute: it is not a moot court, and rules are not the purpose of the community. Written rules do not themselves set accepted practice. Rather, they document already existing community consensus regarding what should be accepted and what should be rejected. When instruction creep is found to have occurred, it should be removed.
While Wikipedia's written policies and guidelines should be taken seriously, they can be misused. Do not follow an overly strict interpretation of the letter of policy without consideration for the principles of policies. If the rules truly prevent you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore them. Disagreements are resolved through consensus-based discussion, rather than through tightly sticking to rules and procedures. Furthermore, policies and guidelines themselves may be changed to reflect evolving consensus.
A procedural error made in posting anything, such as a proposal or nomination, is not grounds for invalidating that post.
Wikipedia is not a battlegroundEdit
Wikipedia is not a place to hold grudges, import personal conflicts, carry on ideological battles, or nurture prejudice, hatred, or fear. Making personal battles out of Wikipedia discussions goes directly against our policies and goals. In addition to avoiding battles in discussions, do not make changes to content or policies just to prove a point to someone with whom you disagree.
Every user is expected to interact with others civilly, calmly, and in a spirit of cooperation. Do not insult, harass, or intimidate those with whom you have a disagreement. Rather, approach the matter intelligently and engage in polite discussion. If another user behaves in an uncivil, uncooperative, or insulting manner, or even tries to harass or intimidate you, this does not give you an excuse to respond in kind. Address only the factual points brought forward, ignoring the inappropriate comments, or disregard that user entirely. You could also remind the user in question of Wikipedia's policy of no personal attacks in such a situation. If a conflict continues to bother you, take advantage of Wikipedia's dispute resolution process. There are always users willing to mediate and arbitrate disputes between others.
In large disputes, resist the urge to turn Wikipedia into a battleground between factions. Assume good faith that every editor and group is here to improve Wikipedia— especially if they hold a point of view with which you disagree. Work with whomever you like, but do not organize a faction with the main goal of disrupting Wikipedia’s fundamental decision–making process, which is based on building a consensus. Editors in large disputes should work in good faith to find broad principles of agreement between different viewpoints.
Do not use Wikipedia to make legal or other threats against Wikipedia, Wikipedians, or the Wikimedia Foundation: other means already exist to communicate legal problems. Threats are not tolerated and may result in a ban.
Wikipedia is not an anarchyEdit
- "WP:ANARCHY" redirects here; you may be looking for the Anarchism Task Force.
Template:Policy shortcut Wikipedia is free and open, but restricts both freedom and openness where they interfere with creating an encyclopedia. Accordingly, Wikipedia is not a forum for unregulated free speech. The fact that Wikipedia is an open, self-governing project does not mean that any part of its purpose is to explore the viability of anarchistic communities. Our purpose is to build an encyclopedia, not to test the limits of anarchism. See also meta:Power structure.
Wikipedia is not compulsoryEdit
Wikipedia is a volunteer community, and does not require its users to give any more time and effort than they wish. Focus on improving the encyclopedia itself, rather than demanding more from other users. Editors are expected to comply with Wikipedia guidelines and policies, especially when it comes to behavior and conduct. But editors are welcome to take a break or leave Wikipedia at any time.
Wikipedia is not any of a very long list of other terrible ideas. We cannot anticipate every bad idea any one of us might have. Almost everything on this page made it here because somebody managed to come up with some new bad idea that had not previously been anticipated. (See WP:BEANS—it is in fact strongly discouraged to anticipate them.) In general, "that is a terrible idea" is always sufficient grounds to avoid doing something, provided there is a good reason that the idea is terrible.
When you wonder what to doEdit
When you wonder what should or should not be in an article, ask yourself what a reader would expect to find under the same heading in an encyclopedia. Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Common outcomes is not official policy, but can be referred to as a record of what has and has not been considered encyclopedic in the past.
When you wonder whether the rules given above are being violated, consider:
- Changing the content of an article (normal editing)
- Changing the page into a redirect, preserving the page history
- Nominating the page for deletion if it meets grounds for such action under the Deletion policy page. To develop an understanding of what kinds of contributions are in danger of being deleted you have to regularly follow discussions there.
- Changing the rules on this page after a consensus has been reached following appropriate discussion with other Wikipedians via the Talk page. When adding new options, please be as clear as possible and provide counter-examples of similar, but permitted, subjects.
- Several texts on what Wikipedia is and is not
- Wikipedia:Alternative outlets
- Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Common outcomes
- Wikipedia:Avoiding common mistakes
- Wikipedia:Here to build an encyclopedia
- Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup#Style of writing – for a list of templates that can be used to tag potentially inappropriate content.
- Wikipedia:What the GFDL is not
- Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not/Outtakes
- Wikipedia:Why was my page deleted?
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not about winning
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not for things made up one day
- Wikipedia pages may not be used for advocacy unrelated to Wikipedia, but pages in the Wikipedia namespace may be used to advocate for specific viewpoints regarding the improvement or organization of Wikipedia itself. So essays, portals, project pages, etc. are part of what Wikipedia is.
- The English Wikipedia incorporates many images and some text which are considered "fair use" into its GFDLed articles. (Other language Wikipedias often do not.) See also Wikipedia:Copyrights.
- This provision is not intended to encompass lists of links to articles within Wikipedia that are used for internal organization or to describe a notable subject.
- See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Rex071404
- The how-to restriction does not apply to the project namespace, where "how-to"s relevant to editing Wikipedia itself are appropriate, such as Wikipedia:How to draw a diagram with Dia. Also, in the main namespace, describing to the reader how other people or things use something is encyclopedic; instructing the reader in the imperative mood about how to use something is not.
- If you believe that your legal rights are being violated, you may discuss this with other users involved, take the matter to the appropriate mailing list, contact the Wikimedia Foundation, or in cases of copyright violations notify us at Wikipedia:Contact us/Article problem/Copyright.
- Similar official policies on sister projects