Toning down your tone for Wikipedia

A few years ago, I added an article to Wikipedia about the Opimian Society. Not a big deal, some might say, anyone can add an article. True, but not every article is accepted. Some articles are removed or rejected due to language that is too promotional or articles that do not provide enough sources. As the largest online (and free) encyclopedia that is managed by volunteers around the world, it can seem easy to sneak in some free promotional material in the form of an article – it’s not.

Opimian had attempted to post an article on Wikipedia prior to my involvement. As Canada’s largest wine club, Opimian has made a mark on the Canadian wine industry that means they deserve at least a small mention on Wikipedia. The problem? Not enough sources to back up their claims and really, the fact that they were making claims at all. An encyclopedic article isn’t for claiming or making a point, it’s simply about laying out the facts in a clear, concise manner.

Sourcing your facts & providing Verifiability

One of the challenges for this article was finding sources. Wikipedia requires that all facts in an article be verifiable, which means that other editors and readers have to be able to go to an outside source and find the information you present. For this particular article, it took several hours of research to put together enough sources to prove each statement that needed to be made – ie. all of the facts.

Those four years of English Literature have finally paid off!

Once all of the sources were laid out, each fact attached to a source and the text approved by the heads of Opimian, I posted the article. This is where the project turned from writing to programming.

Coding & Layout

Wikipedia plays by their own coding rules, at least that’s what my “tutor” told me in the Wikipedia chat. The most programming I’ve done is to use the software that does all of the coding for you (ie. Wordpress for my website and blog, Joomla for Opimian’s website, Oempro for Opimian’s mass email communications). I’ve looked into html and understand the basic coding (for example, <i>italicized</i> – I did that without using the “i” button!) so understanding the explainations on Wikipedia wasn’t hard, just time consuming. But worth it. My article went from showing all of the links in each reference entry to having each link as the title of the article being referenced. I also figured out how to make headings, put the menu at the top and use the chat function to get help.

If there is one thing I enjoy doing (after editing and writing of course) it’s learning new things.

So if you have an idea for a Wikipedia article but haven’t been able to portray it in the language appropriate for an encyclopedia or haven’t been able to find enough sources, let me know. I can help and will enjoy doing so!

Or, check out these handy links for tips and advice from Wikipedia:

About Wikipedia – this is the full low-down on Wikipedia, complete with links to pages that will answer the majority of your questions.

What Wikipedia is NOT – sometimes understanding the essence of something comes from a list of what something is not.

Neutral Point of View – a great guide by Wikipedia to the neutral POV complete with tips and guidelines.

Verifiability – Wikipedia runs on verifiability, not truth… and this explains what that means.

Wikipedia’s Style Guide – because every big organization with more than one editor (even with one editor) should have a style guide!

Cleanup Taskforce – just a warning for those who have prepared and posted articles promotional in nature, watch out for these guys (and girls)!

5 Responses to “Toning down your tone for Wikipedia

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