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.
If the source editor loads by default, click the pencil icon to switch to the visual editor.
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:
Add citations for every piece of information you add to the article by hitting the ‘Cite’ button at the top of the editor.
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:
- Date of birth
- Known for
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.
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:
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
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:
- Academic Support: Research – Basic guidance from UAL for credible and effective research
- UAL Library – Find online/physical books and use Articles Plus to explore peer-reviewed journals
- UAL Code of Practice on Research Ethics – A useful lens through which to view research
- UAL Connect with Learning Resources – Links to various learning resources for help with researching
- Past event dashboard – Statistics from our previous Wikipedia editing event
- Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia
- University of Edinburgh video tutorial playlist on YouTube
- Is my source credible? – From University of Maryland; encouraging scrutiny in sources
- How Wikipedia identifies reliable sources
- What is decolonising methodology? – From Warwick University; a beneficial framework for understanding how decolonisation can be actioned through research methodology
- Concrete Ways to Decolonize Research – An in-depth look at decolonial research practice
Got questions or need help?
If you need help or have questions, there are different ways to get assistance and answers: