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How do I help build Wikipedia?
Thank you for your interest in helping to improve Wikipedia. Wikipedia relies on volunteers who generate and maintain all content as well as creating policies and guidelines to govern the site. It is a collaborative project, with people from all over the world bringing their skills and interests to join in the compilation and dissemination of knowledge to everyone, everywhere, free of charge. The other projects we maintain are also collaborative, crowd-sourced projects that rely on volunteers.
There are a number of ways you can join in.
- Do you like to research or write? Did you know that you can contribute to Wikipedia's articles directly? Each language Wikipedia has information about contributing to in the links on the side, sometimes under a pull-down title like "Interactions". The English Wikipedia's tutorial is en:Wikipedia:Tutorial.
- Do you like to take photographs? Draw pictures? Design charts, maps or put together audio files? There is a place for you, too! Media files that you have created which have encyclopedic value and which you're willing to donate can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, where they can be used on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as elsewhere! See How to create an account (short intro by Maggie Dennis).
- Are you a programmer or web developer or interested in becoming one? Did you know that even the software Wikipedia uses is largely developed by volunteers? If you're interested in pitching in there, please see How to become a MediaWiki hacker.
Since the Wikimedia Foundation is an online service provider, not a publisher, we do not actually take an active hand in governing the communities. Most of its policies and practices are created by volunteers, who can best help if you have questions about the volunteering experience. If you would like more information, you may want to visit the "help" forums linked on the left hand side of each page on our website to learn where questions can be addressed to the community, or you might want to write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something wrong is being done on a Wikimedia project, how do I fix it?
Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia (as explained at Wikipedia:Introduction), and so anyone may edit its articles. It does have policies governing article development, which were also created by community collaboration. In a nutshell, information in articles must be verifiable to reliable sources, as defined by the community, and must be written from a neutral point of view, representing all majority and significant-minority views fairly and without bias. (See Wikipedia:Five pillars.)
There is no central authority over Wikipedia. The Wikimedia movement is based in part on the premise that good articles are achievable through the checks and balances editors provide for each other. When editors disagree on how to achieve these goals, they must resolve disputes through consensus, drawing on the wider community where necessary. You can read more about the dispute resolution processes at WP:DR. A list of ways people can seek dispute resolution can be found at Wikipedia:Dispute resolution requests. You will note in reading those pages that dispute resolution process also exist to resolve behavioral disputes - if editors believe that others are obstructing the proper development of Wikipedia, the community is the avenue of appeal for that as well.
If you believe that article content is being developed in a manner inconsistent with the policies discussed above, or that editors are obstructing the proper development of Wikipedia, I would encourage you to join the community in working through the issues within the dispute resolution process. You don't even need to log in to edit, although creating an account gives you more options and helps you keep track of your contributions. You can create an account at en:Special:UserLogin/signup. Wikipedia:Introduction and Wikipedia:Tutorial are useful reading for newcomers. I would encourage you to refer back to the Five Pillars, linked above, and especially the fourth section in your engagement with others, as following these principles is generally very helpful in successful collaboration.