What should journalists know about Wikipedia? A Poynter Institute NewsU webinar

Photo by Brett Cote, public domain.

On Thursday, July 12th at 2:00pm Eastern Time, Wikimedia Foundation staffers Melody Kramer and Ed Erhart, who are both on the Communications team, will be leading a Poynter Institute NewsU webinar to help journalists around the world better understand Wikipedia.

We wanted to share the links and resources we’ll mention in the presentation, both to help journalists share the information with their newsrooms-and to help anyone who would like to know more about Wikipedia, and what you can and can’t do on it.

Some basic facts

Using Wikipedia as a source

A common question we often get is “Should I cite Wikipedia directly as a source?” The answer to that is a resounding no. Wikipedia is a resource, and is incredibly useful in conjunction with other resources. But like any other tertiary source, Wikipedia can introduce you to a topic. We’d advise that you follow the citations listed at the bottom of most articles and cite them instead. Still, if you have to cite a Wikipedia article, use a “ permanent link,” available in the left sidebar on the desktop site, so that your readers will be reading the same version of the article as you did.

How can I trust Wikipedia if anyone can edit?

While there is vandalism on Wikipedia, it is often reverted incredibly quickly-most of the time within minutes. There are AI tools in place that help editors determine whether information is biased or not.

The jargon: notability, conflict of interest, paid editing

  • Notability: Wikipedia articles cover notable topics, which are things that have gained enough attention by having a variety of reliable sources.

What should you do if you’d like an update to a page about you or your organization?

  • Create an account, which hides your IP address and allows editors to send you notifications.

What should you do if you’d like a new article about your organization?

Using Wikipedia as a resource

  • Click on the “history” tab on any page to see who has edited Wikipedia and what changes are made. You can use these pages to visualize and examine every edit ever made on Wikipedia. Caveat: privacy is important, and you don’t have to have an account to edit Wikipedia.

Melody Kramer, Senior Audience Development Manager, Communications
Ed Erhart, Senior Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

This article was originally published at wikimediafoundation.org on 11 July 2018.

Purveyor of knowledge about Wikipedia, naval history, and cats.