wikidoc:Contributing FAQ

Jump to: navigation, search

This page of frequently asked questions is a compilation of the most commonly asked questions on Wikipedia and would also apply to Wikidoc.

See also the Help page for help in the nuts and bolts of how to edit pages and more.


Getting started

How can I contribute?

There are lots of ways!

Why would I want to contribute to this?

There are many good reasons to be involved in Wikidoc:

  1. It is a self-governing mechanism that creates positive externalities
  2. It's fun.
  3. It's educational.
  4. It's social.
  5. You are part of an exciting development making use of the open source idea.
  6. You can correct other people on the spot without asking their permission!
  7. It's dynamic.
  8. It's interesting to share your knowledge with other people, particularly knowing that others can instantly edit or react to what you've written.
  9. To contribute is to gain.
  10. Did we mention, it's fun.
  11. Ultimately it's yours.

Do I have to register to edit pages?

It is encouraged that you do register and login everytime you enter Wikidoc. There is an exception to this rule, however. In the event that you have been cited for being a disruptive user, it is imperative that you register and log in.

What is the point of getting a user ID?

There are many reasons:
  • The ability to start new pages.
  • The ability to edit semi-protected pages (i.e., pages which are totally blocked from editing by unregistered editors).
  • The ability to edit pages.
  • The ability to upload images.

Do I have to use my real name?

When registering with Wikidoc, it is encouraged that you use your full name or a variation of it.It is important to use your full name for security reasons.

For example: DavidSmith, DrDavidSmith or DavidSmith1

How do I change my username?

Contact C. Michael Gibson at


On talk pages and in the edit summaries of a page history, you will often see editors using terminology and abbreviations which are unique to Wikidoc and the Wikipedia format. The terms most likely to be unfamiliar to a new user are;
  • rv or revert, usually in an edit summary, indicates that the page has been reverted to a previous version, often because of vandalism.
  • NPOV means working towards a Neutral point of view, whilst its opposite, POV, is used to suggest that an edit was biased.
  • To Wikify means to add internal links and other formatting to an article which was mostly plain text.
  • dab is short for disambiguation, or improving a link so that it goes straight to the relevant article.

For a more comprehensive list of abbreviations see Table of Contents.

What is the difference between a page and an article?

The term "page" encompasses all the material on Wikidoc, including encyclopedia topics, talk pages, documentation, and special pages such as Recent Changes. "Article" is a narrower term referring to a page containing an encyclopedia entry. Thus, all articles are pages, but not all pages are articles.

What is an orphan?

An orphan is an article that no other article links to. These can still be found by searching the Wikidoc, but it is preferable to find another article where a link can be added. You can find a list of orphan articles here.

What is disambiguation?

Disambiguation in Wikidoc and Wikimedia is the process of resolving ambiguity—the conflict that occurs when a term is closely associated with two or more different topics. In many cases, this word or phrase is the "natural" title of more than one article. In other words, disambiguations are paths leading to different topics that share the same term or a similar term.

What is a minor edit? When should I use it?

When editing a page, a logged-in user has the option to flag an edit as "minor." Use of this flag is largely a matter of personal taste. A general rule of thumb is that an edit that corrects spelling or formatting, performs minor rearrangements of text, or tweaks only a few words, should generally be flagged as a "minor edit". A major edit, in contrast, generally performs a change that close watchers of the page are likely to want to review. Of course, if an edit performs a major semantic revision, but is limited to only a few words (for instance changing "freedom fighter" to "terrorist" or vice versa, then the edit should not be flagged as minor.
This feature is important because users can choose to hide minor edits in their view of the Recent Changes page, to keep the volume of edits down to a manageable level.
The reason for not allowing a non-logged in user to mark an edit as minor is that vandalism may be marked as such, and as a result, may remain unnoticed for longer than is desirable. This limitation is yet another reason to create an account and log in.


Where do I find more information beyond this FAQ?

You can start by reading the introduction at What is a wiki?.

Are there any rules or guidelines I should be aware of?

See Policies & Guidelines, which includes:
  • Logging in
  • Abbreviations
  • Vandalism

What is "Recent Changes," and what do the abbreviations used there mean?

Recent Changes lists all the edits that have been made over a given time period. Recent changes provides the time stamp and the option to use the talk space for a given topic.

Are there any standard formats, for things like dates for example?

See the Manual of Style.

What is the ideal/maximum length of an article? When should an article be split into smaller pieces?

As these are medical pages and vary, use your own discretion

Can we debate or talk about the subjects here?

This is an encyclopedia that strives to present subjects from the neutral point of view. Though unlikely, debate intended to convince someone else of your point of view on a certain subject may take place on the Wikidoc talk pages. Discussion intended to improve articles is welcome here, however; it takes place in the Talk: pages attached to every article.

How do I write the perfect article?

The perfect Wikidoc article..

  • ...begins with a definition and clear description of the subject; the lead section introduces and explains the subject and its significance clearly and accurately, without going into excess detail.
  • understandable; clear enough to be understood, yet goes into sufficient detail; thoroughly explores and explains the subject as to be comprehended by laymen and experts alike.
  • nearly self-contained; includes and explains all essential information and terminology required in the article, such that someone could completely understand the subject without having to read many other articles.
  • ...branches out; contains links and sources to other articles and outside materials that may add new meaning or background to the subject or give relevant, connected information, so readers may easily understand where they should go for more background or information.
  • ...acknowledges and explores all aspects of the subject; covers every encyclopedic angle of the subject.
  • completely neutral and unbiased; has a totally neutral point of view; presents competing views on any controversies logically and fairly, pointing out all sides without favoring any particular ideal or viewpoint. The most factual and accepted views are emphasized, and minority views given a somewhat lesser priority, while at the same time giving enough information and references for the reader to find out more about any particular view.
  • an appropriate length;article size is long enough to provide sufficient information, depth, and analysis on its subject, without including unnecessary detail or information that would be better suited for a child article ("subarticle"), related article, or sister projects.
  • ...reflects expert knowledge; fact-based and rooted in sound scholarly and logical principles.
  • precise and explicit; free of vague generalities and half-truths that may stem from an imperfect grasp of the subject.
  • well-documented; all facts are cited with reputable sources, especially those sources most accessible and up-to-date.
  • very clear; written to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding. Begins with a definition, and follows a logical structure; uses clearly-worded sentences, grammar, and syntax.
  • ...includes informative, relevant images, each with an explanatory caption. May include maps, portraits, photographs, or artwork; sufficient images to add to a reader's interest or understanding of the text, but few enough images that they do not distract from the article.
  • engaging; uses varied sentence lengths and patterns; language is descriptive and colorful while still maintaining encyclopedic tone.
  • ...uses proper grammar, spelling, and writing conventions; follows all the accepted rules of modern English.

I've found vandalism, or I've damaged a page by mistake! How can I restore it?

See How to Revert a Page to an earlier version.

Which languages can I use?

On the English Wikidoc, use English, unless you're mentioning a name or abbreviation that has no known English translation. If you want to write using other languages choose your language on the entry page or if it is not on the entry page, contact C.Michael Gibson at to suggest a new language

Should I use American English or British English?

People contribute to the English language Wiki in every possible variety and dialect of English. The English language Wikipedia particularly welcomes contributions from editors whose first language is neither American English nor Commonwealth English. Still, it is generally good form to keep usage consistent within a given article. The official policy is to use British (AKA Commonwealth) spelling when writing about British (or Commonwealth) topics, and American for topics relating to the United States. General topics can use any one of the variants, but should generally strive to be consistent within an article. See Wikidoc's Manual of Style for a more detailed explanation.
Use of one English variation in article titles can cause a Search in another variant to fail. In this case, it is recommended that you create a new article using the alternative spelling which redirects to the main article.

How do I spell check a page?

A spell checker has not been implemented yet. When editing a larger article, it may be more convenient to paste the text into your favorite text editor or word processor first, edit and spell check there, and then paste back into your browser to preview. You can also use an online spell checker such as Spellonline.
There is a , which you can use to check if a listed misspelling is on any page in the database. Unlike a spell checker, an unrecognized word is considered correct. Google also doubles as a spell checker. Type the word into the search input window and Google will return with possible corrections if it is misspelled.

Why are some links red? What are the "?" links?

They both indicate that a page with that name has not yet been started. Which one you see depends on your Special:Preferences. If you have "Highlight links to empty topics" checked, you'll see red links. Otherwise, you get the little blue question marks.
Either way, you can click on that link and start a page with that name. But be careful: there may already be articles on similar topics, or an article on the same topic under a different name. It's pretty important to hunt around for similar topics first.
If you just registered, your username is probably shown as linking to a page that doesn't exist. Don't worry! This just means you haven't filled out your user page yet. Click on the link and tell the world all about yourself!

OK, what about the pale blue links?

Those are external links; i.e. those that link to pages outside Wikipedia. They look like this.

What happens when two users edit a page at the same time?

This is called an "edit conflict". You'll get a conflict screen that displays both versions in separate windows, along with a summary highlighting the differences (typically showing the edits of both users, except those which both have made exactly the same), and instructions on how you should proceed. It's virtually impossible to lose any data.

What happens if my computer or browser crashes mid-edit, or if the server does not respond?

In case of a crash you'll lose your edit. To some extent, you can guard against this by editing in a text editor, for major work (but note that with regard to a system crash this does not help, unless you save frequently to disk).
When you get a time-out when you try to save, you might or might not lose your edit depending on your web browser. Some browsers (e.g. Mozilla Firefox) will recover the text you have tried to save if you use the back-button. In other browsers you will lose your edit. You can protect against this by copying the text (at least to the clipboard of your system). If you did not do this, you can at least recover the latest reviewed version by using the back-button and refreshing the page.

How do I learn about changes to certain topics without having to go there from time to time?

If you are a logged-in user, on every page you will see a link that says "Watch this article". If you click on it, the article will be added to your personal watchlist. Your watchlist will show you the latest changes on your watched articles.

What file formats should I use for pictures/videos?

For images, use JPEG for photographs, and PNG for drawings, logos and the like. GIF can be used instead of PNG, but it is discouraged because of patent reasons. As for video, Ogg/Theora is currently the only recommended format. See Wikidoc:Image use policy for more.

What file format should I use for sound?

Multiple encodings are encouraged. WAV and Ogg Vorbis are allowed, but MP3 is not. See Insert an Image

One of the contributors is being unreasonable. Help!

See Etiquette and Dealing with vandalism for suggestions.

Can I change the default number of contributions displayed in the "My contributions" list?

Currently, no. You can, however, change the setting on the page and bookmark the resulting page.

Why was the article I created deleted?

New articles are deleted for not following Wiki policies and guidelines. If your article was deleted, future contributions from you are still welcome.
The reasons that may lead to the quick deletion of an article are:
  1. A very short page with little or no definition or context (eg "He is a funny man that has created Factory and the Hacienda. And, by the way, his wife is great.").
  2. No meaningful content or history (eg "sdhgdf"). :# A test page (eg "Can I really create a page here?").
  3. Pure vandalism (see dealing with vandalism). Note that if you're not being malicious, then your article probably didn't fall under this category.
  4. Reposted content that was deleted according to Wikidocs deletion policy. This does not apply to undeleted content that was undeleted according to undeletion policy.
  5. A page created and edited solely by a banned user, after they were banned (see bans and blocks). This is slightly controversial!
  6. An article which has already been moved via the transwiki system.
  7. An article about a real person, group of people, band or club that does not assert the importance or significance of its subject.
  8. An article that is a blatent copyright infringement from a commercial content provider (e.g. an encyclopedia or a news service)

Why was the edit I made removed?

There are a variety of reasons. The first thing you should do is look at the history page for the article you edited. This will tell you who changed it, when they changed it, and hopefully a short reason why they changed it. If it says something like see talk, then you should look at the talk page for the article. Also, you should look at your own talk page to see if you have a message there. If you don't find a reason that is satisfactory, politely ask in the article's talk page about your proposed change, and maybe you will get suggestions about changes that you can make so that your change will go in, or you may get reasons why your change should not happen.

Links: external and multilingual

Should I translate pages across the various Wiki's?

Yes, it's a good idea to cross-pollinate.

What about using machine translation?

Machine translation is useful for obtaining the general idea of a text in an unfamiliar language, but it produces poor translations and should not be used on its own. If you want to use machine translation as a translation aid and intend to edit the result, please go ahead if you think it would be helpful. However, please do not paste a machine translation directly into an article.

How can I tell if an article exists in another language Wiki?

We try to build links between different language pages -- that's one way of seeing if an article exists elsewhere. If you don't see the language links at the top of a page, go looking for the corresponding article(s) on foreign Wiki's. If you find them, make a link both ways; if not, you can translate. Bear in mind that article may not be in one-to-one correspondence between Wikipedias.

Is it OK to link to other sites, as long as the material is not copied onto Wikidoc?

External links are certainly allowed. Properly used, they increase the usability of Wikidoc. External links should support the content of the article, not replace it. An article should be more than a container for external links, and the content should not require the reader to leave the site to understand the subject.
Please do not place advertising links in Wikidoc. Commercial sites are obvious, but this prohibition usually includes links to fansites and discussion forums as well unless the site is a notable one in the field. As a general rule of thumb: if you wish to place the link in Wikipedia in order to drive traffic to a site, it probably doesn't belong here.
The current convention is to place external links in a separate "External links" section at the bottom of the article. Sites used as references for the article should be listed under a "References" section, or sometimes placed within the article as a footnote. See How does one edit a page for different ways to create external links.


I have, or can get, special permission to copy an image or article to a Wiki. Is it OK to do that?

The text and images of Wiki are covered by the GNU Free Documentation License. Unless an item is covered by the same or a similar license, or is in the public domain, it cannot be used on Wikidoc. So you have to ask the copyright holder of the material to license it under GFDL.

I have an out-of-copyright image (or text) that is reproduced in an in-copyright book. Can I scan / type it into Wikipedia?

Providing they haven't altered the image then they can't claim a copyright on it. If it was in the public domain before they used it, it's still in the public domain afterward.

Does using a GIF image in Wikipedia violate the GFDL because of its patent?

No. The patent of the LZW compression algorithm used with the GIF format has expired.


Can I really change whatever I want on a Wiki?

Yes, you can. And your changes will be reflected instantly. Just like I did right now :)
(Actually, this isn't completely true. There are some pages on Wiki that are protected, so that only administrators can modify them. This includes pages like the Main Page, which are permanently protected, or normal articles which are temporarily protected during the resolution of an edit war. However, the vast majority of pages on Wikidoc are editable by anyone, at any time.)

How do I get a count of my edits?

There is a tool called count edits that can count your edits automatically.
A manual tool to use is my contributions, found in the personal toolbar on the upper right, since there is no user statistics page.

All information on this page is attributed to Wikipedia