Wikipedia Student Guide

Getting Started & Common Difficulties 

It can be scary to think about making something you created public by posting it to Wikipedia, but be confident! You have some of the best resources and knowledge at your disposal as a student. It is important to recognize the value of not simply digesting academic material but infusing your knowledge into the public sphere. Set your expectations low at first, start with small edits on a topic you’ve already researched and keep your WikiEd curated resources handy. Edits can be anything from adding a citation to a sentence or adjusting grammar. Be curious, search for prominent figures, concepts, or topics that interest you and sift through the content to see if there’s anything you can contribute. You can check out other student-made pages and courses taught through the WikiEducation Dashboard tool by heading to the ‘explore’ page as inspiration as well.

Looking to figure out how to navigate the WikiEd dashboard or need help figuring out what to do if one of your edits or articles gets patrolled? Find out how below. 

Do I have the authority to edit Wikipedia?

Yes! Although it may seem like a daunting task, Wikipedia encourages first-time editors and students. A nonprofit organization, the WikiEducation Foundation, specifically supports this work and attributes great value to the student perspective. You have a plethora of academic resources and insight at your disposal to fill in crucial public knowledge gaps. Your edits need not be perfect, the joy of Wikipedia is that another member of the community will pick up where you left off on the subject. Have courage in your skills and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

What is the difference between a talk page and a sandbox? How do I find the two?

talk page is a space where Wikipedia editors can discuss potential edits, concerns and comments on a variety of topics. Every article has a talk page and every user page has a talk page. You can find your specific talk page by logging into Wikipedia and clicking on the “Talk” tab on the top right. A sandbox is a space where you can draft potential articles and edits you want to move to mainspace Wikipedia. You can find your sandbox directly to the right of your talk page tab. You can find out more about sandboxes and talk pages here

How do I check to see if my edits have been published?

Head to the dashboard for your course. Click on the “Activity” tab located at the top next to “Uploads.” From there, you can see a list of the various members in your course and the different articles you all have edited since entering the course. By clicking on the “Date/Time” hyperlink, you will find a side by side comparison of the article before and after your edits.

My edit or article was taken down—what do I do now?

First off, take a deep breath and relax! Getting things taken down is normal and happens to most Wikipedia editors at least once or twice. Head to your user “talk” page, where the editor who screened your edit or article for deletion will list their reasoning for the deletion. Carefully consider the comments made and revise your edits based on them. If you feel as if the comments are unwarranted, start a dialogue with the user who took your page down and defend your edits. Be kind and considerate when justifying yourself. Review Wikipedia’s policies on civility as a guide to forego any unwanted blocks

Who do I reach out to about Wikipedia-specific questions?

Reach out to your assigned WikiEd expert to assist you in addressing any problems, questions, and concerns that come up along your editing journey. You can find your expert on the rightmost side of your dashboard home page, under “Details.” From there, send them an email with any relevant screenshots and detailed descriptions of the problems you’re experiencing.

How do I remove an IP or VPN block from my account?

Follow the steps listed under the IP block question in the WikiEducation Foundation’s FAQ’s. If you are still experiencing problems, contact your WikiEd Expert listed on the rightmost side of your dashboard home page, under “Details.”

Do I have to do library research to write or edit a Wikipedia page?

Yes, at least to make substantial edits. Wikipedia pages must be based on authoritative sources, preferably scholarly articles. Part of learning to edit Wikipedia is learning to do scholarly research.

Do I have access to library support throughout my assignment?

Yes, ask your instructor if they’ve invited a librarian to conduct a research workshop for your class. On your own, you are always welcome to ask for research assistance from the Library, via 24/7 chat, email, or Zoom appointments. The Library staff are here to help!

Image Credit: Subhashish Panigrahi, CC BY 3.0