Frequently Asked Questions
Note: This is a suggestion from the list Basic Wikipedia and help pages.
The idea of this page is to answer shortly to the most common questions readers have about Wikipedia. Sometimes the answers must be altered according to the rules in your language edition.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a wiki?
A wiki is a website that allows the users making changes online. The pages are connected by links.
Wikipedia works according to the wiki way.
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that can be improved - according to certain rules - by everyone. It exists in several language editions, with different content and partially also different rules.
How to use Wikipedia
How do I find something in Wikipedia?
Many people come to Wikipedia by typing words into an Internet search engine.
On the left side you find a search field.
Useful is the system of categories. Below an article you find the categories the articles belongs to.
Can I edit?
Yes, every one is welcome. Before editing, we strongly recommend reading about the general rules and other information. Sometimes a new user makes an edit but then finds out that their edit is reverted - maybe not because it was incorrect, but because it was against a special Wikipedia rule.
Can I download Wikipedia?
Yes, if you want to use Wikipedia being offline. To unexperienced users this can be difficult. See Data dumps at Meta.
How do I quote?
Quote from Wikipedia like from any other web site. At the left (under "tools") you find the link "Quote article" that gives you proposals how to quote.
It is important to indicate which version of an article you quote, not only the title of the article. A version is identified by date.
Can I use Wikipedia content on my web site (or anywhere else)?
Yes, but you must indicate where you have your content from. In most of the cases it makes more sense to link from your web site to Wikipedia.
Who is the owner of Wikipedia?
The internet domain, the name "Wikipedia" and the computers where everything is stored belongs to Wikimedia Foundation. This non profit organisation is is registered in the US State Florida.
The content (for example, the text of an article) is free, everyone is allowed to use it unter certain circonstances. Please read [Wikipedia:Free knowledge].
Who pays for Wikipedia?
People who donate.
Who is the boss in Wikipedia?
Wikipedia language editions enjoy autonomy. Those users, who have made at least [necessary number in your language edition] edits, have the right to vote for administrators.
An administrator is a kind of sheriff. He or she has the right, for example, to ban a misbehaving user or to delete an article. Administrators do not have special rights concerning content.
Who is responsible for the articles?
The article history tells who has written what. An user who repeatedly misbehaves, insults or uses copyrighted material without permission, can be identified and punished by police. Not responsible is Wikimedia Foundation, because it only provides the platform.
Which role has [our local chapter]?
The chapters are independent from Wikimedia Foundation. [Our local chapter] supports Wikipedia by arranging meetups and doing promotional work, but it is not responsible for Wikipedia content, also not for content in [our language edition].
Quality and reliability
What about errors in Wikipedia?
Of course, there are errors in Wikipedia articles. You will find errors in every book, every printed encyclopedia, every newspaper. We recommend not to believe simply what is written, in Wikipedia or elsewhere.
Who controls Wikipedia articles?
Wikipedians. An author, who has written an article, usually puts it on his "watchlist". Whenever someone else makes an edit, the author (or authors, or someone else) will notice and have a look.
Experience shows that this works quite well. It is not necessary to check it out by willfully editing nonsense - we call that vandalism, and you might be banned.
Is it true that you also delete articles?
Yes. Sometimes a (new) article does not match certain minimum requirements. Anyone has the right to put it on a discussion list about deletions, and later an administrator will decide whether to keep it or delete it.
Most deleted articles are obviously created by vandalists.