Who's behind Wikipedia?

Computerworld takes you on an in-depth look at the world’s largest and most celebrated open encyclopedia – Wikipedia

Wikimedia policies & guidelines

"The first policy that everybody should know about is 'Ignore All Rules', which says that if a rule stops you from improving the encyclopedia basically you should ignore it, so it's kind of like a check on all the other rules," Laugher said.

Since its inception Wikipedia has developed and continues to add to a body of policies and guidelines that express the behavioural standards which have gained community consensus. Wikimedia Policies are considered a standard that all users should follow, whereas Wikimedia guidelines are more advisory in nature.

"There are quite a few rules relating to conduct, behaviour and civility, and there is one called do not bite the newcomers, which is about saying we are not a closed club, anyone can join us and edit," Laugher explains.

"Related to that is one called be bold, which says people should edit first and talk later -- to directly improve articles instead of discussing or talking about it first," she said.

One of the most important policies for content is neutral point of view, and Tone; which determines the tone an article should be written in and the weight one should give to various incidents or aspects of an article.

Other significant policies relating to conduct include sock puppetry which says that people should not create extra accounts to represent their views more than once by pretending to be different people, and no edit warring, personal attacks, legal threats or wheel warring.

Similar to the burden of proof in a court of law, in the world of Wikipedia verifiability carries more weight than truth.

"The criteria for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability and not truth, because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia it is only a secondary source - it is reporting on what other primary sources have said. The idea is that you can read an article and follow the sources to go back and check or verify it somewhere else. If you can't do that then it is not verifiable and is not encyclopedic content," Laugher explained.

A related policy to verifiability is no original research, which prevents the inclusion of unpublished research, such as a university paper, as no one can verify its accuracy.

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