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A guide to help you get started with Wikipedia.

What's in the Guide?

Caxton printing pressWelcome to the Wikipedia Research Guide

This guide will introduce you to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

The Getting Started page includes information on creating an account and editing Wikipedia.

Wikipedia for Students includes links to tutorials designed for students.

Wikipedia for Instructors include information on using Wikipedia in the classroom.

Wikipedia Controversies explores criticisms, hoaxes and other issues with the site.

The Edit-a-thon page includes information the library's edit-a-thon events. We hope you can join us!    

 Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV. Date 1851

Image Credit: Daniel Maclise [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What is Wikipedia?

A Wiki is a website that allows users to edit the content through their web browser. The word wiki comes from the Hawaiian wiki-wiki meaning quick-quick.

Founded by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001, Wikipedia is a free, open access online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Wikipedia has over 26 million registered users or editors, of which approximately 100,000 are active on the site (Wikipedia Statistics), editors are known as Wikipedians. Wikipedia includes sites in over 250 languages with English, Swedish and German having the most content. Currently, there are over 4 million articles on the English Wikipedia page.  Alexa ranks Wikipedia  as one of the top ten most popular websites in the world.

Among the controversies surrounding Wikipedia are issues of credibility and reliability. The site has been the victim of a number of hoaxes and acts of vandalism. Other criticisms include the significant gender bias on Wikipedia. It has been estimated that approximately 90% of Wikipedia editors are male.

Five Pillars

Wikipedia is governed by five guiding principles referred to as the five pillars.

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
  • Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.
  • Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute.
  • Editors should treat each other with respect and civility.
  • Wikipedia has no firm rules.