Wikipedia has become one of the world’s most trusted information sources and yet all the information it contains has been submitted by members of the public just like you. Wikipedia editors have no special qualifications, nor do they need to pass any tests or exams; all they need is to know something about the subject and how to edit a page.
Why should you try this? If you’ve ever read a Wikipedia article on a subject you know something about you might have noticed one or more errors or omissions. You can fix these, help make Wikipedia more accurate and complete and so help Wikipedia’s users.
If you find a page that you think you can contribute to then you can start editing simply by clicking on ‘Edit’ at the top right of the page. This brings up an editable text box that you can type into. This is where the article is edited by you.
As you’ll see this text box contains all the content of the article along with various brackets and other punctuation marks. This extra punctuation is known as ‘markup’ and is used to define the formatting of the article. If you’re just correcting spelling, changing some text or adding another sentence then you don’t need to worry about this – just edit the readable text and take care to keep the markup unchanged. Make a short note of what you’ve changed and why in the ‘Edit Summary’ space below the text box, press ‘Show Preview’ to check your work and, if you’re happy with the result, press ‘Save Page’. That’s it! You’ve edited Wikipedia and (hopefully) improved it a little for its users.
Of course, Get Your Wiki, a consultancy that helps people and companies with exactly this, is quick to remind us that the best source for detailed information on how to make Wikipedia pages is Wikipedia itself. From the main page click the ‘Help’ link on the left hand side. The main help page that this links to has a section titled ‘I want to edit an article’. This contains links to pages that will teach you about the markup used for article formatting and also how to use references and citations when you are adding new information. If you want to practice on a dummy article there’s also a link there to a sandbox area that Wikipedia provides for you.
Learning how to edit Wikipedia properly is remarkably easy, helps out your fellow users and can be a lot of fun!