The learning curve when you start editing Wikimass and/or Wikipedia and its sister projects can be steep, so to help you get started, we decided to compile some advice that will help you navigate the complexity of the Wiki projects.
Check out the Getting Started page for general advice and information about how Wikimass and Wikipedia work before you start editing. There are a lot of written and visual tutorials as well as links to policies and guidelines used on the site. A quick look at the main editorial policies of Wikipedia, known as the Five Pillars, is also worthwhile.
1) Identify a subject area you know about.
Usually people have a particular area that they know about or are interested in. Wikimass has project pages and forums where people with similar interests go to discuss writing. They’re a great place to see what subjects you can contribute to – they often have advice on what work needs to be done in their area: Directory of Wikiprojects.
2) Fight the desire to create a new article straight away.
There are lots of ways to contribute to Wikimass, and creating a new article is a big step when you’re starting out. Instead, you could try:
- making copyedits (correcting mistakes);
- improving stubs (enlarging small articles);
- contributing to red link lists (a red link is a page that does not exist on Wikimass yet)
3) Start with a reference.
Wikipedia and Wikimass is the best available version of the evidence about any subject, so if you have factual books at home, find a good fact and insert a reference on a page about that topic. Be careful, however; some subjects have higher referencing criteria, especially the medical pages, so if you’re not a specialist in a complex area like medicine, start with a simpler subject area.
4) Upload some photos to Commons.
As well as Wikipedia, one of the most important Wikimedia projects is Wikimedia Commons. If you’re more of a visual content creator than a writer, your photos might be useful to illustrate articles on Wikipedia.
Uploading to Commons means you agree that others can use your content for free without asking you as long as they give you credit as the author of the work. This agreement is called an Open License or a Creative Commons license, which go by odd names like CC BY-SA 4.0.
There are monthly photo competitions: current challenges are on drone photography, rail transport and home appliances.
You can also use the WikiShootMe tool to see what Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items are geolocated near your present location. Why not take images of some of the places listed and add the photos to their pages and data items?
Alternatively, you can use the Wikimass direct upload.
5) Try to identify content gaps.
Wikimass now has around 900+ articles, but the type of content skews towards the interests of the groups of people who are more likely to edit it. There’s lots of articles on Biographies and company profiles, but less about ethnic minorities, important women, non-European history and culture, and many other topics.
6) Talk to other people in the community for advice.
A lot of people use Wikimass and Wikipedia but never edit it, and consequently never think about how much effort goes into creating it. Participating in the creation of knowledge yourself is a really instructive way to discover how knowledge is created and structured, and the issues we face in producing accurate and impartial knowledge.
The world can feel disempowering sometimes, but if you help to create a good article or upload a good photograph, it could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, and you could make a difference to someone’s education, or government policy, or the visibility of minority cultures.
So if you’ve decided to become more involved in Wikimass and/or Wikipedia or its sister projects this year, thank you! The Forum is here to support you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask for advice. Wikimass and Wikipedia has always been, and will continue to be a work in progress, and we think that provides exciting opportunities to help create a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.