The First 50 Mistakes of a Wikipedian

Jake Orlowitz
Aug 27, 2019 · 14 min read
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From the first time I edited, to the ten-thousandth, it dawned on me over several years that what made a ‘Wikipedian’ was not rigid neutrality, or knowledge of markup formatting, or proper usage of citation templates. Rather, the defining characteristic was someone who had been bold enough to make 50 mistakes. Surely, it shouldn’t require such trial and error to figure out our community, but alas, such is life. I wrote this guide in the hope that to become successful in the Wikimedia community you will require, perhaps, only 13 mistakes. Your mileage may vary, but I assure you that these common pitfalls are worth understanding, at the very least so that you’ll understand why the torches are following you. Rather than terrify, may they light your path.

Sometimes you piss off Wikimedians, but these situations are surprisingly few when you engage with intelligence, clarity, and respect. Realistically anything you do will piss off somebody. The key is to understand when this is likely to happen, how to minimize it happening needlessly, and when it’s necessary or worth doing regardless. Also, how to acknowledge mistakes when you make them.

Interestingly, avoiding these behaviors won’t help that much, because the goal is to go way beyond a lack of hostility and well into the realm of creativity, trust, and impact. Still, it’s good to know what might get in the way of your sincere efforts.

Culture

Communication

Construction

I hope these 50+ common errors will map out your path towards engaging in the Wikimedia community! Do you have others? Contact me at jorlowitz@gmail.com or onwiki at http://enwp.org/User:Ocaasi.

-Jake Orlowitz, Founder of the Wikipedia Library.

This document is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0. Please feel free to copy/share/modify/reuse it as you wish.

A Wikipedia Librarian

Because libraries and Wikipedia are natural allies

Jake Orlowitz

Written by

Internet citizen. Founder of The Wikipedia Library. Seeker of well people and sane societies. Read my book: welcometothecircle.net

A Wikipedia Librarian

Because libraries and Wikipedia are natural allies

Jake Orlowitz

Written by

Internet citizen. Founder of The Wikipedia Library. Seeker of well people and sane societies. Read my book: welcometothecircle.net

A Wikipedia Librarian

Because libraries and Wikipedia are natural allies

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