4 tips for creating a Wikipedia article

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It is human nature to want to share the enthusiasm you have for a subject or project with others. Wikipedia is a great place for that, where you can record your expertise and create a fact-based touchpoint for your interest. The site's mission is altruistic, and it has been my experience that Wikipedia administrators zealously guard against content that has an obvious agenda, is not relevant to today's Zeitgeist, or does not provide the references and citations needed to prove accuracy.

I know many people who have tried to create a Wikipedia article but it didn't survive the vigilant eyes of Wikipedia administrators.

However, there are certain tactics you can implement to increase the chances that your entry will meet Wikipedia standards. Here are four tips.

1. Is the topic noteable and relevant?

Wikipedia defines "notability" as that which has "gained significant attention by the world" and is verifiable by "reliable third-party sources."

This is done by checking how widely the subject is covered in the media and various publications. Checking your subject may be as simple as typing it into a search engine and looking for mentions in current news and books. However, many topics, such as places and even historical landmarks, are missing from mainstream media or books. In such cases, a census website (e.g., India's Office or the Registrar General & Census Commissioner) or a data portal (e.g., India's Open Government Data Platform) can provide authoritative information. Every piece of information in your entry should be cited by linking the source inline so that anyone can verify whether the citation you have provided is authentic or not.

If the topic you are creating an article for fails the notability test, you should wait until the subject gains more popularity. It is wiser not to waste time creating an article that administrators will quickly delete because of a lack of reliable sources or notability.

Wikipedia also has its own manual of style. Make sure you go through that before venturing into creating a new article to ensure you have written the entry according to the guidelines.

2. How to write your entry

First, to prepare, take some time to look through Wikipedia's policies and guidelines for creating a new Wikipedia article. Take your time. Some of the policy-related pages can be very long, and you may find grasping them all in one go is difficult. View mastering Wikipedia's policies as a long-term project. Bookmark the policy pages and glance over them often, even as you are knee-deep in creating your entry.

Wikipedia articles are reviewed by hundreds of thousands of volunteer editors, many of whom are respected and made trivial mistakes when they first started out as well.

If the article you create is deleted even though it was notable and you provided citations, it does not mean that you are a bad writer. Even the best driver from a right-hand traffic country will have issues when changing to a left-hand traffic road!

3. Grow your article like you'd grow a plant

Write your article inside a sandbox, a space where you can experiment with your page's design and content before it goes live. You can learn more about text formatting (e.g., designing headings, hyperlinking, and using bold or italics attributes) by simply opening any Wikipedia article and clicking on the Edit button. If you are editing using the classic source editor option (Edit source) and not the VisualEditor (a rich-text editor that eliminates the need to know wikimarkup formatting), keep your existing article in edit mode and follow the formatting side-by-side. For example, I used the article on Niagara Falls to help me create an article about a waterfall in my area.

If you have questions, reach out to active editors or administrators on their talk page. Alternatively, there is an interesting place called Teahouse where you can ask a question and someone will surely help out. Make sure you seek help and grow your article gradually inside the sandbox rather than creating it too quickly.

4. How to publish your article

Screenshot taken from Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The process of publishing an article is known as "moving" a sandbox article to an article namespace.

Start by finding the Move option right next to the Edit button when you hover your mouse on the arrow. When enabled in your preferences, clicking on Edit will take you to VisualEditor. You can simplify all of these steps by using the VisualEditor.

Wikipedia's Content Translation tool gives you the ability to translate your articles. On the English-language Wikipedia, this feature is limited to users who have been registered for more than a month and have made more than 500 edits. This policy might vary from one language to another. I find it mind-blowing to know that there are 295 different language Wikipedias that are edited by hundreds of thousands of volunteer editors across the globe.

Joining the list of these editors is doable: Educate yourself and carefully prepare your work.

Somewhere in Mumbai in a moving local train.
Subhashish Panigrahi (@subhapa) is the founder of OpenSpeaks, an award winning project that helps grow open resources to digitally-document marginalized languages. He co-founded O Foundation (OFDN), a nonprofit that works towards addressing issues that lie in the cusp of people, culture, and technology with Openness in its core.

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