Editing a public platform can be daunting! The Decolonising Wikipedia Network supports students and staff to develop skills and confidence. Find below guidance on the some of the different steps of editing Wikipedia through a decolonial, anti-racist lens.

If you learn more effectively through watching (rather than reading), then check out this Wikipedia editing video tutorial playlist on YouTube, produced by the Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh.

If you would like to run your own workshop on Decolonising Wikipedia, you can also download here some workshop slides:

Identifying pages to edit

  • Look up in Wikipedia a practitioner or topic you’re interested in or know about.
  • Is there anything in Wikipedia about the practitioner or topic? If so, what kind of information and how much? 
  • Does the Wikipedia entry reflect everything there is to know about the topic or the breadth of the practitioner’s achievements and practice?
  • Do you know anything off the top of your head that is not on the page? If this is the case, chances are there will be a lot more for you to add once you start researching.

Don’t forget – Our aim as a network is to decolonise Wikipedia by expanding the representation of practitioners and topics overlooked within the traditional Eurocentric canon. If you feel that your edits aren’t contributing to this common goal, get in touch with other DWN members via the DWN Teams site

Finding reliable and credible sources

  • For entries to be published in Wikipedia, they need to meet certain notability criteria, and this relies on the reliability and credibility of information being added.
  • UAL Library is a great place to start for finding credible sources of information. Many physical books have been uploaded as e-resources in light of the pandemic, and you can always search ‘Articles Plus’ to find much more reliable content from reputable sources such as journals, specialist magazines and theses. 
  • Check to see if information sources are peer-reviewed as this can increase their credibility.
  • If you come across a source and you are unsure of its credibility, check out the Help + FAQs page, where you can find guidance or get in touch with a member of the Network for help.

Editing an existing Wikipedia page

We recommend that you edit Wikipedia with the visual editor rather than by learning to edit the source code of pages.

Screenshot showing a dropdown menu from the pencil icon on a Wikipedia editor page. The two options are 'Visual editing' and 'Source editing'
Screenshot showing the visual editing and source editing options

If the source editor loads by default, click the pencil icon to switch to the visual editor.

Screenshot showing the 'Preferences' page of a WIkipedia user's account. The link to the 'Preferences' page is circled in pink, as is the subheading 'Editing mode' and the dropdown menu below it, which is set to 'Show me both editor tabs'.
Screenshot showing the editing preferences in Wikipedia

If the pencil icon is not visible, head to ‘Preferences’ in the top right of the screen and scroll down to ‘Editing mode’. Select the option ‘Show me both editor tabs’. This should allow you to switch between the source editor (‘Edit source’ tab) and the visual editor (‘Edit’ tab).

Here’s how the visual editor works:

A screenshot of the Wikipedia visual editor, with important features circled and described as follows:

Cursor: Place your cursor anywhere to begin to type

Chain link: Add a link to another page

Cite: Make sure to add a citation for any claim or fact that you add

Publish changes: When you are happy with your changes, publish them!
Screenshot showing the visual editor functions in the Wikipedia page for Emeka Ogboh

Add citations for every piece of information you add to the article by hitting the ‘Cite’ button at the top of the editor.

A screenshot of the citation tool in the Wikipedia visual editor. It advises:

When you hit 'Cite', add a link to your source here. Wikipedia will generate the citation, which you can edit if needed.
Screenshot showing the ‘add a citation’ pop-up box

Make sure not to infringe on copyright by using any copyrighted material without the proper citations or permissions. More about that from the UK Data Service.

You can add media such as photographs with the ‘Insert’ tab in the toolbar. The search function provided will search through media which is free and safe to use under Wikipedia Commons. If you are uploading your own content, you must follow strict guidelines around content ownership which are detailed in the uploader.

Don’t forget to remain impartial – avoid offering your opinion as fact.

Making your first edit

When you begin editing it can be useful to start with key basic information about a practitioner or topic, as this is often missing. Check that the following information is available for individual practitioners:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Nationality
  • Education
  • Known for
  • Movement
  • Awards
On the left, a screenshot of Lorna Simpson's Wikipedia page's basic info. The subheadings 'Born' and 'Nationality' are circled, and annotated as follows:

'Details such as birth date, place/location of birth, nationality and age are key to any Wikipedia and are surprisingly missing a lot!'

On the right, an overview of the revisions of this part of the page. An entry dated 11 June 2020 shows the birth date simply as "1960", while an update on 14 June 2020 changes this to "13th August 1960 (age 59)".
Screenshot of the basic information on the Wikipedia page for Lorna Simpson
An overview of revisions for another Wikipedia page. 

On the left, captions 'age', 'birth place', 'nationality' and 'known for' are all circled, with the caption 'In this instance, the following basic information was missing'. 

On the right, we see the same sections circled but updated with new information. The caption reads 'Basic details such as nationality are crucial'.
Screenshot showing updates in the basic information box

Once the basic information is up to date, you can move on to other sections of the Wikipedia page or add these yourself.

Creating a new Wikipedia page

There are many ways to create a Wikipedia page; details of all of them can be found here. Below, we explain some of the simplest ways to create and build a Wikipedia page with an emphasis on applying a decolonial lens.

While browsing Wikipedia, you may come across a red link, which indicates a page which has not yet been created. If you see one and click on it, you will have the option to create the page.

A sentence from a Wikipedia article. The sentence begins in black 'A red link', followed by in red 'like this example' followed again in black by 'signifies that the linked-to page does not exist'.
Screenshot of an example red link in Wikipedia, from Wikipedia:Red link

If you want to create a page for a practitioner whose name you haven’t seen in a red link elsewhere on Wikipedia, then start by searching their name in the Wikipedia search bar. If it has not yet been created, you will be given the option to do so. It will look something like this:

Wikipedia screenshot. It reads, in black, 'There were no results matching the query. You may create the page', followed in red by 'Red-linked Text You Searched For'.
Screenshot showing a red link within Wikipedia search results

When you arrive at this point, it can be daunting to be faced with a blank Wikipedia page waiting to be populated with credible information. We recommend collaborating with others if you are starting from scratch. Here’s how to get going:

  • Find basic information from credible sources. Recordings: A Select Bibliography of Contemporary African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian British Art (download) is a great place to start as it lists works/exhibitions for many Black, Asian and minority ethnic artists which you can very easily incorporate onto a Wikipedia page without writing anything new or complicated.
  • Think about why you want to create the page – what does the world need to know about this practitioner or topic? Why do you think it is important for the canon of your subject area? How best can you celebrate a practitioner with a view to empowering future generations of Black, Asian and minority ethnic artists?
  • Create some clear headings
  • Fill in the gaps
  • Reference everything as you go
A screenshot of a blank Wikipedia sandbox
Screenshot of a blank Wikipedia sandbox

New pages are edited in the sandbox which only you can see, until you go live. Clicking on “Publish changes” in the sandbox does not make the page go live, it just saves any changes you have made.

When you are ready to publish your new page, you ‘move’ it from the sandbox onto Wikipedia. The page will be live immediately, however it may not show up in search engines for a few weeks or even months. Linking to your new page from other Wikipedia pages, as well as from any other external websites you have, can help to speed this process up.


Here are some helpful links and resources for further guidance:

Got questions or need help?

If you need help or have questions, there are different ways to get assistance and answers:

  • You can find answers to a range of frequently asked questions on the DWN help page
  • You can ask fellow DWN members through the Members Teams site