Basic Wikipedia training

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This is a syllabus for a training session that can be given in a half day or an evening, or extended to a full day. It would normally be given by one trainer/presenter at the front of the room and a number of helpers depending on audience size. For specifics on how to deliver this training, see the resources below. Although it is often given as "Wikipedia training", the skills learnt in this session can be used on all the Wikimedia projects.

Objective: To introduce complete beginners to the basics of Wikipedia editing, and help them make their first contributions

This page is for people looking to deliver this workshop. If you are interested in being trained yourself, see training.

For events where this sort of training has been delivered, see Category:Training events for newcomers

Prerequisites[edit | edit source]

  • No knowledge or prior experience of Wikipedia or other wikis is assumed.
  • Participants have basic computer ability (use of a mouse, filling in web forms, editing word processor documents or similar).
  • Participants should register accounts in advance, as creating more than six new accounts from one IP address can cause problems.
  • Everyone should have printed copies of the Wikipedia Cheatsheet.
  • Everyone should have an internet-connected desktop or laptop computer: people have gone through this training with tablet devices or even a mobile phone, but it is not recommended.
  • The internet connection in use should not block, though a firewall or other tool, connections to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons (always check in advance!)

Learning goals[edit | edit source]

  • The Five Pillars of Wikipedia (not quoting chapter-and-verse, but an awareness of the five points and their importance; the "WP:5P" shortcut)
  • The Edit-Preview-Check-Save cycle; including an edit summary
  • Basic formatting: bold, italics, headings (using the toolbar or cheatsheet at first)
  • Three kinds of links: i) wikilink, ii) wikilink with different display text (understanding why this is often needed) and iii) an external link with display text (all shown on the cheatsheet)
  • Viewing an article history; understanding that each line represents a revision of the article with the most recent at the top
    • Use their own user-page as an example as there will only be a few edits. Then look at a fully developed article and view its history. Explain that the same principle applies, but with more edits and multiple users.
  • Adding references to an article (using the Cite/ Templates tool in the toolbar)
    • Although references are comparatively difficult for a newcomer, the effort is worth it in terms of preparing users to make edits that will not be reverted.
  • Finding the Talk page of an article (understanding that latest topics are at the foot of the page, not the top)
  • Finding one's own User page, own User Talk and recent contributions using the links at the top right
    • There's no requirement to understand namespaces, but participants should understand that some pages are "part of the encyclopedia" and other things, including user pages, are not.
    • Participants should be warned that talk-page messages to other users are public, unlike with many social networks and messaging systems
  • Posting a message on another user's Talk page, including a signature (using the toolbar button or the cheatsheet). Replying to the message that's been posted to them.
    • It's a good idea for each person to post a message to the person on their left, so that by following the links you can find and welcome all the new user accounts.
  • Finding an article that needs improvement, and either making an edit or proposing improvements on the Talk page.
  • At least two ways of finding help (by clicking "Help" then "live help via web chat" or by using the {{helpme}} template on their own Talk page)
  • If your new article is tagged, or your edit reverted, "Don't Panic"! How to deal with this, and overly-aggressive talk page warnings.
Optional (for longer sessions)
  • Creating a Watchlist (using the star icons at the top of articles)
  • Wikiprojects: knowing how to find an article's Wikiprojects, looking at a relevant Wikiproject and seeing what it offers, and knowing where to find a Wikiproject's latest discussion (i.e. its Talk page)
  • Exploring the category system and adding a page to a category. Understanding difference between category and a list
  • Creating a sub-page of one’s own User page (including understanding why some links are red)
  • Enabling gadgets (via My Preferences/ Gadgets): try WikEd (a colour interface for editing)
  • For multilingual learners: make sure they know how to find the other-language versions of an article.
  • For academics & librarians: adding a full citation quickly using a Digital Object Identifier or a PubMedID (NB: 11111111 (eight ones) is a valid PMID)

Trainer resources[edit | edit source]

This syllabus does not cover how you would inspire people to contribute to Wikipedia. That is more dependent on audience and context, and may well come from reflecting on your own positive experiences of contributing. The Outreach wiki has resources and ideas on this theme.

Optional activities[edit | edit source]

Is / Is not[edit | edit source]

This can be done without computers in the initial presentation/ discussion about the Five Pillars. Each person in the room is given a slip of paper with a phrase that describes either what Wikipedia Is or what Wikipedia Is Not. Each in turn reads out their phrase and says which category they think it is in. This is a chance to surface and correct misunderstandings. For the list of phrases and explanations, see the Welcome to Wikipedia slides.

Improve a random article[edit | edit source]

This can be done online as soon as everyone has tried basic formatting. Everybody clicks the "Random article" button on the left hand of any Wikipedia page. They are overwhelming likely to find a short article whose text could be improved or corrected. If not, click the button again. This gives them their first small experience of improving the encyclopedia.

Commonly-needed improvements include missing apostrophes, spelling errors (but watch for US vs. Brit English) and the addition of "USA" to articles starting "X is a foo in Florida (or whichever state)".

Warn them first that clicking on "Random article" might bring up an offensive topic, and if so just to click the button again.

Assessment[edit | edit source]

There is no need for an assessment for this level of editing: if a user has developed these skills, it will be evident from their contribution record.