Wikipedia 2197:What Wikipedia is not

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Nonono, an GIF animated by Erika Inzitari derived from a painting by Christopher Williams. In some countries such as Bulgaria [1], the "head shake" means approval.

An encyclopedic article cannot be a complete exposition of all the details verifiable or presumed useful on the subject, but rather a neutral summary of the relevant information given by reliable sources, treating each of these aspects according to its importance in relation to the subject, having regard to the relative weight given to it by these sources. The following examples, which are not exhaustive, illustrate 'what Wikipedia is not'. This page sets out counter-examples of Wikipedia's purpose: to be an encyclopedia.

A discussion group[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is neither a newsgroup nor a collection of articles organized like everything2 or h2g2. Wikipedia is also not a discussion forum, nor a chat site.

However, Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia and discussion among contributors is often necessary to improve the encyclopedia or to reach consensus on certain topics. You can chat with the participants on their personal pages and you can discuss a particular article on the Discussion page attached to it. The different places of discussion are described here.

A dictionary[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not a dictionary, that is, a set of definitions of common terms. Thus, if a term covers a non-encyclopedic subject, no article will be devoted to it, and if several terms cover the same encyclopedic subject, then a single article will be devoted to it and redirections will be used . Each article introduction must therefore define a concept and describe its history and not define a word and detail its etymology and uses. In addition, the disambiguation pages are intended to bring together the various articles devoted to the same name, which may designate in particular different people and/or places, or to the same term, word or expression, sometimes used in very different senses.

This does not mean that etymology, pronunciation, and any other linguistic element are irrelevant on Wikipedia, only they are not the central element. To access a free dictionary, see Wiktionary, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

A guide to using the language[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia's function is not to explain how to use words, phrases, etc. But, of course, it is sometimes useful, "within the framework of an article", to indicate how a word is to be used according to a particular authority.

By extension of the previous paragraph, Wikipedia is not "a guide to the use of computer terms" either. We're not here to teach you how to talk like 'hackers'. We are here to write an encyclopedia. But on the other hand, you are welcome if you want to write articles, even very specific, on hackers and their culture; and if "in the context of such articles", certain terms of the "hacker" slang require an explanation, then writing an article on these terms will of course be justified.

A battlefield[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not a place to start, import, maintain or prolong personal conflicts. Fostering personal conflict goes directly against Wikipedia's policy and goals. Each user is expected to interact with each other calmly and in a spirit of cooperation and coordination. It is always possible to resolve a conflict maintaining a respectful attitude, without giving in to personal attacks in such a situation.

This is not about waging a change war or defending one's point of view by creating a “counter-article”.

In addition, an article is not the “preserve” of any participant: to be the main editor, or even the only past editor, does not give the right of veto on the evolution of an article.

A propaganda or promotion platform[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not intended to defend a personal opinion or to promote a project, a new idea, an unknown person or an association or any subject generally ignored, especially by research organizations and the media. Wikipedia reports on established knowledge on topics that meet eligibility criteria.

But an article can, of course, objectively report what the promoters say about a notable topic, as long as it is made from a neutral point of view. Any "personal" opinion requires wide-scale recognition, particularly among the community of specialists on the same question or on subjects which come close to it.

In particular, Wikipedia is not intended for institutional communication. Various bodies (sports club, educational institution, private company, NGO, service club, youth movement, political party, research institute, etc.) may be tempted to dump into Wikipedia the information they disseminate on their own account. and their members or supporters can do the same. Such articles, while they may impart valuable information, are thus drafted from a non-neutral point of view. However, such treatment does not conform to the ideal of an encyclopedia. In it, in fact, all points of view must be represented, and the data must be provided in such a way that the critical and free approach of these data is encouraged. In addition, an article on Wikipedia does not never belongs to the persons, entities or organizations described therein.

Free advertising support[edit | edit source]

As recalled by Project:Antipub, Wikipedia is not intended to make known or promote people, companies, organizations, services, products or brands; it is not intended to accommodate articles which are in fact only advertising leaflets ensuring a commercial promotion.

This does not mean that Wikipedia cannot cite people, companies, organizations, or commercial products and even devote articles to them. But these subjects must be approached in a neuter way.

If you are paid to write or modify articles (as a service provider, as part of your assignments or at request from your employer/internship supervisor), you must disclose what contributions you are paid for. You must add your affiliation to your summary of modification, user page or discussion page, in order to be fully transparent about your activity and point of view.

A collection of quotes or aphorisms[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not a collection of quotes, nor is it intended to accumulate indiscriminate quotes, regardless of the value of those quotes.

This does not mean that quotes have no place in Wikipedia but that they should be contextualized. A quotation can have its place in an article to illustrate a point of view or a position or to summarize the analysis of a reference author. Sometimes, some notable quotes can even be the subject of an article when they have been analyzed and commented on to the point of making them an encyclopedic object.

To access a collection of citations, consult Wikiquote, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

A national encyclopedia[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia of the English-speaking world but an encyclopedia in english and therefore independent of any country.

A collection of external links[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not intended to reference all Internet pages relating to a subject. There are websites intended for this (the web directories in particular) but Wikipedia is not one of them. A link to an official site may be relevant if it is an institution, for example, but links to blogs, forums, personal sites, or promotional sites will most likely be removed.

If a website is particularly interesting, it makes more sense to use it as a source to improve the existing article rather than placing a link to that site. More details here.

An information log[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is not a news journal and is not intended to report current facts and events as they arise. The veracity, the verifiability and the perspective of the material reported in Wikipedia is more important than the speed of its publication. Information articles on current events or facts can be written in Wikinews, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

However, contributors are encouraged to incorporate up-to-date information or update existing articles. It is also possible to develop a stand-alone article on an important news item if it has received significant coverage and analysis by reliable sources.

In all cases, current facts or events reported in Wikipedia should be written in a encyclopedic genre.

A crystal ball[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia does not foresee the future and does not do futurology. Any information about upcoming events should be verified and supported by reliable and fairly reliable sources (it can be reasonably assumed that there will be no Olympic Games in 2198, but not that there will be no Olympic Games in 2300). 'It is strongly advised not to' advertise products (books, films, music albums, video games, etc.) that have not yet been released.

A directory or a database[edit | edit source]

Very generally and in application of its founding principles, Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, is not an exhaustive compilation (like a directory or database), indiscriminately listing names, resumes, audiovisual programs, products or miscellaneous information.

A school or university textbook[edit | edit source]

Overly “academic” approaches, such as exercises, lectures, etc., obey other logics and needs than the encyclopedic approach of Wikipedia. Wikipedia favors a synthetic approach that is accessible to as many people as possible, giving an overview of knowledge on a subject. School or academic approaches have a more analytical approach, go into more details, mathematical formulas, with less accessible language. They aim less to provide an accessible panorama than in-depth technical knowledge of a specific subject.

This difference in approach is so important that a sister project of Wikipedia, Wikiversity, was created to admit more academic or academic approaches.

Inappropriate information[edit | edit source]

A Wikipedia article is not intended to be:

  • a frequently asked questions;
  • a memorial or commemoration;
  • a collection of documents, annotated or not;
  • a simple summary of a work;
  • the simple text of a song.

A political experiment[edit | edit source]

The community has certain rules, but we must not lose sight of the fact that they exist only for the goal to which the community aspires: to build a 'quality' encyclopedia. By extension, Wikipedia is neither a democracy, nor a dictatorship, nor an attempt to carry out any political project. These rules should therefore not be considered as laws, but as recommendations intended to facilitate collaborative work. This does not prevent some from wondering about the organization of the community, there are various essays on the subject, such as Is Wikipedia an experiment in anarchy?

A bureaucracy[edit | edit source]

Although Wikipedia brings together many elements of a bureaucracy, it is not governed by law: it is not a quasi-judicial body, and the rules are not the ultimate goal of the community. Although some rules can be applied, the written rules do not fix the accepted use. Rather, they simply document existing community consensuses about what should be accepted and what should be rejected.

Wikipedia's written guidelines should be taken seriously, but they should not be misused. Do not follow a literal interpretation of the rules without taking their principle into account. If there are any rules that really prevent you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore them. Disagreements are resolved through consensus-based discussions, not by strictly following rules and procedures. In addition, the rules and recommendations can be changed to reflect changes in the consensus.

A procedural error in a proposal or request is not a valid reason for rejecting a proposal or request.

A procedural, code, or grammatical error in a new contribution is not a reason to cancel it, unless the error cannot be easily corrected.

A diary[edit | edit source]

Articles are not meant to write your autobiography, introduce family or friends. For this, there are many free sites to create a blog. However, if you, as a contributor, wish to introduce yourself or explain your areas of interest, use your user page, which is available to all people registered on Wikipedia.

Censored[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia may contain content that some readers find offensive or offensive. Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, that is, a project bringing together information on various subjects in the most impartial and objective manner possible, an article being shocking or not remains something very subjective: what may seem trivial to the greatest number may very well be inadmissible for others. Articles may feature content that is considered offensive by the wider community, but there is a reason for this: content of this type is used if and only if their omission would make the article less informative, less relevant, and less accurate, and that there is no alternative.

An encyclopedia on paper[edit | edit source]

The costs of hard drive space and bandwidth are negligible. According to Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), as long as it respects founding principles (mainly neutrality) and that it is properly structured, the existence of content on Wikipedia should mainly be based of the interest of a contributor to add it. Except interest, nothing prevents a subject from being treated in as much detail and depth as it is possible to do.

A doctor[edit | edit source]

As with all the content of the encyclopedia, an article dealing with medical field does not contain any guarantee as to its reliability, having been written by any contributor not informed on the subject.

Further, Wikipedia is not a medical practitioner and even when the information provided is verifiable and reliable, it cannot substitute for the advice of a health professional which will be able to adapt to each particular case, unlike Wikipedia.

An image bank[edit | edit source]

The writer of an article in Wikipedia may tend to want to include as many images as possible. This goes against the spirit of synthesis specific to encyclopedic articles, drowns the text and can diminish the importance of the links between images and text. In addition, adding many images in bulk, especially at the end of the article, does not give a quality aspect to the latter.

"Conversely", it is desirable for an article to present a number of well-chosen images and in sufficient quantity, so that the illustration thus produced gives the article a correct relief and density. An article that is dull because it is poor in images should be avoided.

A laboratory[edit | edit source]

Researching Wikipedia's contents, procedures, and contributors can yield information useful to public knowledge, education, and the Wikipedian community, but Wikipedia is not a public laboratory. Searches of Wikipedia articles, talk pages, and other content are usually uncontroversial, because this public information is published under a free license. However, research projects which disrupt the community or which degrade the quality of articles (even temporarily) are prohibited and the responsible contributor is exposed to the blocking of his account.

Regardless of the nature of the project, researchers must be as transparent as possible; for example, they should indicate their institutional or corporate ties, or the real goals of the research. If they conduct their research with a grant or any other form of remuneration, they should clearly mention this lest they be seen as paid editors when they appear in an article or on a talk page for example.

Some contributors refuse, explicitly or implicitly, to collaborate on research. Please respect their wishes not to participate in research.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. Particularités bulgares. Yes and No, article on the site (travel agency guide).

See also[edit | edit source]

Related Articles[edit | edit source]