Editing (Slides, Wikipedia Editathon (Exeter, March 2017))

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The nuts-and-bolts of the technology – and why it's really no big deal

Wiki-wiki - it means 'quickly', so keep it that way

'Wiki' comes from the Hawaiian word 'wikiwiki', which means 'quickly'.

Wikis were invented to simplify web editing, even if this was at the cost of flexibility and subtle formatting. With their development since, it's possible to achieve an awful lot of such control, although it can require

Editing (the old way)

Visual Editor - such a good thing?

Wikipedia:Visual Editor

The difficulties of wiki editing

Some areas of wiki editing are always a source of confusion for new editors, mainly the techniques that are both usefully common, and difficult.

  • Images
  • Categorization
  • Tables
  • Page flow and layout
  • References
  • Templates

However none of these make it impossible to write the skeleton of a good article.

Article creation

Creating an article

An established editor may write an article, especially a short stub, by simply creating it directly. Clicking on a WP:REDLINK even gives a prompt to do so.

There are drawbacks to this. It's not usually a recommended approach, although it can be done for short stubs. The difficulties are that any article needs to get to a certain level of completion to look like a workable topic and so avoiding the risk of being prematurely deleted. It's hard to achieve that in a single burst of editing.

One advantage to it (your experience may vary) is the pressure of finishing it! It's a great incentive to make that stub up and live within an hour or two. As a dreadful prevaricator, I sometimes find this useful – although the results are rarely an exemplar.


A good technique, open to all editors, is to write a draft in userspace first. This gives the editor time and space to work on a draft for as long as they like, in a location that is clearly expressed as specific to a single editor.

Create User:Andy Dingley/My new page

It's a good idea to keep a list of them from a page like User:Andy Dingley/My pages too, although they can be found with Special:PrefixIndex/User:Andy_Dingley/ too (which is linked as "Subpages" on the user Contributions page.

Draft namespace


Articles for Creation

Writing offline

Good page structure

MOS:LAYOUT covers this

External links

Despite WP's obsession with sourcing, external links are not favoured.

The goal is to write an encyclopedia article. This should be a self-contained and complete article, in itself. It should not be necessary for readers to read any further external material in order to understand the complete article. Even references should only be needed by editors who are fact-checking the article, not readers.

This is frequently not possible. Copyright is often one reason, so is simple lack of time and effort to produce the perfectly complete article. In particular, an article on a writer might just not have access to on-line copies of their work, whereas their own or their publisher's site might be able to offer this.

So link away, and use external links to improve articles; but remember that the ultimate goal would be to not need them.

Editing tips

The Pipe Trick
Linking to categories
Personal tools