Improving Wikipedia training

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This is a first draft: not yet the product of consensus

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.

Objective: Novice Wikipedia contributors will gain the understanding and confidence to make bold and substantial contributions such as creating a new article

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


Learning goals

  • Understanding various core principles (at the "nutshell" level)
    • Use one of the problem-based activities below. Make sure learners explain the ideas in their own words.
  • Writing appropriately for an encyclopedia
    • See the activity below. Depending on the time available, this can be done as a group discussion of one example or a long session that progresses to cleanup of real articles.
  • Creating a user sandbox (see slides 9-10 of "Working on Wikipedia")
    • All learners should create a user sandbox in this session. No requirement to move it into main space, but they should be aware of how to.
  • Basics of handling disagreements
    • The Bold, Revert, Discuss cycle
    • No expectation to learn about all the dispute resolution processes, but they should be aware that a number of processes exist and know where to look for more information.
  • Getting feedback through the Did You Know process
  • Knowing how to find more information about style (via the MOS) and policies
    • See the Useful links exercise below.

Trainer resources


Wikipedia policies and guidelines

This is a problem-based activity done online. Hand out slips of paper with the following terms:

Civility Verifiability Consensus Notability
Neutrality Sock puppetry Edit warring Assume Good Faith
No Original Research Copyright violations Offensive material Biographies of living persons

Everyone in the room has just a few minutes to research the term, either individually or in pairs depending on how many there are. Searching for "Wikipedia:[term]" will normally find the relevant page. There will usually be an "in a nutshell" sentence at the top. At this stage, the reader only needs to read and understand the "nutshell" or the introductory paragraph, not the whole page.

At the end of this each person or group feeds back to the room:

  • In a few sentences, what does this term mean and what is the relevant Wikipedia policy or guideline?
  • What would Wikipedia be like if users did not obey this principle?

Appropriate tone

This can be done as a paper exercise, with the text below as a handout. Learners can suggest improvements out loud for the trainer to implement on the presentation screen

Apart from being completely made up, the following paragraph has several flaws from the perspective of Wikipedia. There is original research, puffery, speculation about the future and other things that don't belong in an encyclopedia. With some bold deletions and minor changes, can it be given a neutral, factual tone?

Heinrich Dusselflan (1957- ) is the professor of nasal studies at the University of Baden Wursen, Germany, with a uniquely stellar research profile including more than one thousand papers in academic journals. In 2002 he received the national medal for services to mucus but, astonishingly, has never been nominated for a Nobel Prize. In youth, Dusselflan was a keen student of military history, being diverted by a typographical error into a four-year course of nasal studies at Utrecht before returning to Germany for obvious reasons. Any scholar of Dusselflan's work should start with his three-volume Gesundheit, published in 1991 to summarise the theory he had developed over the previous decade. This research identified three new kinds of itching and its significance will never be equalled. A Google search indicates that Dusselflan shares his full name with only one other person, who by comparison is not particularly important.

In Wikipedia, words and phrases are linked to other articles, creating a web of knowledge. This "wikilinking" is not applied to common dictionary words, otherwise almost all of the article would be links. Which words or phrases would you expect to be wikilinked in your improved paragraph?

Now do it for real:

Creating a list of useful links

For a frequent contributor to Wikipedia, some guidelines, noticeboards or tools turn out to be very useful to return to regularly. This contrasts with pages such as core policies that are very important but don't need to be consulted again and again. This exercise is about creating a personalised set of links that will be useful for the kind of improvements you want to make.

For example:

In this activity, individuals spend building up a list of six to eight links that will be particularly useful to them and edit this list into their User page or their User Talk (without adding a signature). This can includes policies or guidelines that were briefly discussed earlier in this workshop and which the learner would like to revisit. The starting points can include a Wikiproject, the Help index, or a search of Help and project pages. Each person then quickly feeds back to the room one example of a link and why it will be useful to them in particular.


It will be evident from checking a user's contributions record that they have 1) cleaned up an article 2) created a user sandbox, 3) identified some useful links and added them to their user page, user talk or a subpage.