5 Tips for the Singaporean Wikipedia Editor

In my last post, I shared with you the disheartening feedback from Wikipedia editors on an article I’ve submitted.

After taking a nap, I woke up feeling fresh and optimistic, and I’m ready to share with you the top 6 tips on Wikipedia editing that I’ve garnered from a Wikipedia support group chat that I logged into to seek help.

1. It may be too early. 

If you are writing about a company, and the company doesn’t have any news coverage, it isn’t enough to just cite the company’s website. That was what I did, and I got my article rejected!

Instead, the company needs to be the subject of significant coverage in multiple reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject.

If the company doesn’t have any news coverage or secondary sources, then it’s too soon for an article on Wikipedia. If others in news media have taken note of the company and reported on it, then Wikipedia has no foundation for an article.

For more information, you may refer to this link on notability.

2. You may freely contribute to Wikipedia after being confirmed. 

You may freely create pages, without being rejected by editors, after 4 days of opening your account, and 10 edits. Once you’ve completed 10 edits, you will receive this notification from Wikipedia:

You just made your tenth edit; thank you, and please keep going!

Hence, if you see that some Wikipedia articles don’t contain third party references at all, perhaps the article needs to be improved; or perhaps a discussion should take place to decide whether to delete the article.

Confirmed editors can create articles directly in the mainspace of the encyclopedia. Such pages, however, are subject to New Page Review, and might be speedily deleted if they violate any policies or don’t meet the inclusion guidelines.

3. Wikipedia is not an ‘organised’ version of Google. 

Before my editing experience, I always perceived Wikipedia as a random and non-credible platform. After all,  didn’t our professors and teachers always told us not to cite Wikipedia? I always thought of Wikipedia as somewhat like Google, just that you don’t really have to begin by searching for a topic. Links can also be easily navigated, so you can branch out and learn more.

I was told that Wikipedia is certainly not a version of Google. Wikipedia is instead a collection of articles about subjects that have been well-noted by others.

As such, Wikipedia welcomes volunteers who are interested in helping to build and improve the encyclopedia.

4. Citations are evaluated on an article-by-article basis. 

Now that you’ve learnt that secondary sources are so important for Wikipedia, there’s something else you should know as well. Sources will be evaluated by Wikipedia editors on an article-by-article basis.

Say you found an article written by a less-known but independent-looking site such as Connected to India, and wish to cite it. If the news site has an editorial staff; if they have a policy and procedure for fact-checking their articles; it is likely an indicator of a reliable source.

However, if an organization accepts user- or reader-submitted material, and republishes it with little or no oversight; then that is commonly called “churnalism”, and is unreliable.

Some organizations do both. That’s why Wikipedia editors will need to examine sources individually. That is one of the main purposes of Wikipedia’s Articles For Creation Review process.

An article, for instance, may have a byline for the writer, a publication date, and a writer’s bio snippet at the end. However, it may not provide the type of in-depth reporting needed to establish notability of a company.

As the first step before beginning a draft encyclopedia article is to find multiple sources that will support notability, Wikipedia editors will keep an eye out on your citations.

5. Begin by gathering credible, in-depth sources. 

Usually, as a draft writer, you begin without a clear vision of what coverage you might find. You can start assembling you research in your own user sandbox.

In fact, I’m told that most ideas for encyclopedia articles fall short. Some take months or years to develop completely!

If you develop an interest in researching and building encyclopedia articles about subjects that interest you (but you have no conflict of interest), then Wikipedia will welcome your editing contributions.

For a start, read the articles that already exist on Wikipedia. When you find one that needs improved, fixed, or expanded, look for guidance because you’ll learn by doing.

That is why one of the most difficult tasks is article creation. It can be overwhelming when you are new to Wikipedia. Making small edits to existing articles well help you learn Wikipedia’s policies and procedures.

One day, article creation won’t be overwhelming….it will just be frustrating! Haha.

6. Do not copy and paste from your sources. 

Copy-pasting could be copyright infringement, so you should always paraphrase. Here’s a policy article worth reading. Take your time to read, because one of the best ways to learn what Wikipedia is…is to understand what it is not!

Hence, the first and most important thing to do when you’re writing a new article is to make sure you’ve got an appropriate topic.

7. It takes time for Wikipedia editors to review your submission. 

For some of you, it may have been weeks since you submitted your article or edits for consideration. Since editing is all done by volunteers, in their own time, depending on how interested they are in the topic, reviewing could take minutes to weeks, sometimes upwards of a month. Sit tight, be patient, and grab a warm beverage!

We hope this sharing changes your view of Wikipedia, and we hope you see the value of the platform now. We also know someone in Singapore who has experience in contributing to Wikipedia. If you’ll like to see your company appear on Wikipedia, get in touch with us and we’ll connect you to the pro. Best of luck!



A Singaporean’s Editing Experience on Wikipedia

Out of my love for writing, I started a Wikipedia account and decided to create a Wikipedia page on a certain company in Singapore, since there wasn’t an existing one.

To my dismay, my article was rejected. Some edits I made to other articles were also rejected! I was feeling really lost and discouraged, since the Wikipedia editors – all volunteers, by the way – gave me pretty harsh feedback.

Here are some feedback I received:

Comment: Does the author of this draft have any sort of financial or other connection with the subject of this draft? Please read the conflict of interest policy and the paid editing policy and make any required declarations.

This draft is written from the viewpoint of the company, focusing on what the company says about itself. Corporate notability is based on what independent reliable sources have written about the company.

This draft reads like an advertisement, but Wikipedia is not for advertising.

Here’s another quote:

Your additions have been removed in whole or in part, as they appear to have added copyrighted content without evidence that the source material is in the public domain or has been released by its owner or legal agent under a suitably-free and compatible copyright license. (To request such a release, see Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission.) While we appreciate your contributions to Wikipedia, there are certain things you must keep in mind about using information from sources to avoid copyright and plagiarism issues.

  • You can only copy/translate a small amount of a source, and you must mark what you take as a direct quotation with double quotation marks (“) and cite the source using an inline citation. You can read about this at Wikipedia:Non-free content in the sections on “text”. See also Help:Referencing for beginners, for how to cite sources here.
  • Aside from limited quotation, you must put all information in your own words and structure, in proper paraphrase. Following the source’s words too closely can create copyright problems, so it is not permitted here; see Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing. (There is a college-level introduction to paraphrase, with examples, hosted by the Online Writing Lab of Purdue.) Even when using your own words, you are still, however, asked to cite your sources to verify the information and to demonstrate that the content is not original research.
  • Our primary policy on using copyrighted content is Wikipedia:Copyrights. You may also want to review Wikipedia:Copy-paste.
  • If you own the copyright to the source you want to copy or are a legally designated agent, you may be able to license that text so that we can publish it here. Understand, though, that unlike many other sites, where a person can license their content for use there and retain non-free ownership, that is not possible at Wikipedia. Rather, the release of content must be irrevocable, to the world, into the public domain (PD) or under a suitably-free and compatible copyright license. Such a release must be done in a verifiable manner, so that the authority of the person purporting to release the copyright is evidenced. See Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials.
  • In very rare cases (that is, for sources that are PD or compatibly licensed) it may be possible to include greater portions of a source text. However, please seek help at Wikipedia:Media copyright questions, the help desk or the Teahouse before adding such content to the article. 99.9% of sources may not be added in this way, so it is necessary to seek confirmation first. If you do confirm that a source is public domain or compatibly licensed, you will still need to provide full attribution; see Wikipedia:Plagiarism for the steps you need to follow.
  • Also note that Wikipedia articles may not be copied or translated without attribution. If you want to copy or translate from another Wikipedia project or article, you must follow the copyright attribution steps in Wikipedia:Translation#How to translate. See also Wikipedia:Copying within Wikipedia.

It’s very important that contributors understand and follow these practices, as policy requires that people who persistently do not must be blocked from editing. If you have any questions about this, you are welcome to leave me a message on my talk page. Thank you.

That wasn’t all. They asked if there was any conflict of interest in me contributing that article!

Hi! It appears that you have some close connection to the company, and so have a conflict of interest. Please note that our Terms of Use state that “you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation.” An editor who contributes as part of his or her paid employment is required to disclose that fact. If you are receiving, or expect to receive, monetary or other benefits or considerations from editing Wikipedia as a representative of an organization (as an employee or contractor; as an employee or contractor of a firm hired by that organization for public-relations purposes; as owner, officer or other stakeholder; or by having some other form of close financial relationship with a topic you wish to write about), then you must disclose your employer, client and affiliation. If I am mistaken – you are not being directly or indirectly compensated for your edits – please say so, here on this page. Otherwise, please make the required disclosure. In either case, please do not edit further until you have answered this message. Thank you.

Fine, fine, fine. I spent so much time and effort writing up the article, and here I was being slapped left, right and centre. Not wanting to waste my effort, I joined this Wikipedia support group chat.

I was so thankful to have my burning questions answered in the chat. Read on for some useful tips I’ve learnt!