For newcomers, figuring out how to edit Wikipedia can be challenging. Although help pages abound, many new contributors like to have something to hold on to: printed guidance. That was the motivation for the first Welcome to Wikipedia brochure we created in 2010, and since then it’s made its way into the hands of thousands of people through editing workshops, Wikipedia classroom assignments, and other outreach events. The original welcome brochure was translated into more than 12 languages.
However, Wikipedia has changed a lot since 2010, and that brochure was starting to show its age. Over the last several months, we’ve been working with the Wikimedia community and designer David Peters on a completely rewritten welcome brochure: Editing Wikipedia — A guide to improving content on the online encyclopedia. Featuring volunteers from all over the world, the new brochure covers both the how and the why of editing Wikipedia, with special focus on the things that trip up new editors most often: writing in an appropriate encyclopedic style, using and citing reliable sources, and understanding wiki markup (with an updated markup cheatsheet). Joining the Illustrating Wikipedia guide for contributing content to Wikimedia Commons that we published some months ago, the new brochure is available both online and in print.
We hope this new brochure will see even more local editions than its predecessor. The text is set up for translation, and the design files are also available (for InDesign, with the open source Scribus format coming very soon). Because Wikipedias and Wikipedia communities vary so much from language to language, we wanted to design the brochure to be easy to adapt and localize for different language Wikipedias. Most of the content applies equally well to English Wikipedia — for which this version is written — and other languages. It also includes a section specifically devoted to English Wikipedia; translators are encouraged to localize this section to cover topics tailored to their particular audiences and language versions. The original version’s cartoon character has been replaced with a photo of a real editor from the English Wikipedia who offers advice to newcomers through the brochure; as the brochure is translated, local language communities are encouraged to change the photo to be one of an editor from their community.
For the examples and screenshots, “encyclopedias” is the motif that appears throughout — although that may change for other languages. I’m especially proud of the center spread, which shows an article — “Encyclopedia” — in edit mode with VisualEditor and wiki markup side-by-side. Anyone can learn wiki markup with a bit of practice, but the first time you see a page full of it can be overwhelming. So in this spread, we focus in on some of typical markup in the context of a real article, right across from how that markup shows up when the article is rendered. I’m also excited to see new faces of local Wikipedians in the local editions!
If you work with Wikipedia newcomers and would like printed copies of the new brochure in English mailed to you, please contact Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager LiAnna Davis.
Online Communications, Wikipedia Education Program