Wikipedia encourages an atmosphere of friendliness and openness. Of course, in practice there are sometimes disagreements and even the occasional fight, but members of the community are expected to behave in a generally civil manner.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always assume good faith on the part of other editors. Never assume that someone is acting out of spite or malice. If someone does something that upsets you, leave a polite message on the relevant article's talk page or on the user's talk page, and ask why. You may find that you've avoided a misunderstanding and saved yourself some embarrassment.
Editorial policies[adiht fruman]
Neutral Point of View[adiht fruman]
Wikipedia's editorial policy is the "neutral point of view", often abbreviated "NPOV". This policy says that we accept all the significant viewpoints on an issue. Instead of simply stating one perspective, we try to present all relevant viewpoints without judging which is correct. Our aim is to be informative, not to convince readers of something. Our policy does NOT mean that our articles are expected to be "objective," since in any dispute both sides believe their view to be "true."
It's OK to state opinions in articles, but they must be presented as opinions, not as fact. Also, it's a good idea to attribute these opinions, for example "Supporters of this say that..." or "Notable commentator X believes that..."
You might hear Wikipedians referring to an article as "POV". This is Wikipedia slang for a biased article, or one obviously written from a single perspective. Advertising would fall in this category, as would a political diatribe. In a less extreme case, an article might have "POV" problems if it spends significantly more time discussing one view than another, even if each view is presented neutrally.
If you're going to spend time on controversial articles in subjects like religion or politics, it's important that you read the neutral point of view policy page as soon as possible. You should probably also read Staying cool when the editing gets hot. If you're going to spend your time on less emotional subjects like math or video games, you should still read the policies, but it's a less pressing concern. Keep in mind the advice here, and read the full policy if an NPOV issue comes up.
Subject matter[adiht fruman]
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Hence, articles should be encyclopedic information about "notable" subjects. What exactly constitutes notability is the subject of constant debate on Wikipedia, but few of us agree that there should be articles about every person on Earth, every company that sells anything, or each street in every town in the world.
This is also not the place for "original research"—that is, new theories, etc., that haven't been supported by peer review. For more details about what Wikipedia should include, see What Wikipedia is not, Criteria for inclusion of biographies and What's in, what's out.
We also tend to discourage authors from writing about themselves or their own accomplishments, as this is a conflict of interest. If you have made notable accomplishments, someone else will write an article about you eventually.
U.S. English vs. British English[adiht fruman]
Both forms are welcome on Wikipedia. An abridged version of the related policy could be stated as:
- Do not edit a page simply to "correct" the spelling in either direction.
- If the subject is related to the U.S., U.S. English is preferred (e.g., World Trade Center, not "World Trade Centre").
- If the subject is related to part of the UK/Commonwealth, British English is preferred. The same applies to most European topics, as people in Europe mostly see British English (e.g., British Labour Party, not "British Labor Party").
- If the subject is neutral (for example, science, etc.), the original contributor's usage should be followed. See American and British English differences if you have difficulty with this.
- The usage should be consistent throughout the article.
For a more detailed version of the current formal policy, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Usage and spelling.
Do not submit copyrighted material without permission. The best articles are usually written from either personal knowledge, or through the synthesis of research from multiple sources. For a more detailed discussion of copyrights, see Wikipedia:Copyrights.
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