Approximately 753 new articles are created on the English Wikipedia – each day. The wonderful volunteers at New Pages Patrol monitor these pages. There are so few of them and so much work to be done that their page has a DEFCON status to indicate how behind they are in checking the new pages being created. As it says on their page, “New Page Patrol is [Wikipedia’s] first line of defense against unwanted pages or for improvement of poorly written or constructed pages and it must be done accurately.” How can you ensure that the article you create will remain on Wikipedia when these harried, unsung volunteers are looking at it?
Let’s look at the newly-created María Jesús Alvarado Rivera, which is a model for new page creation:
1) Include at least three reliable sources. The most important element of a new entry is references. These reliable sources establish notability(not every topicreceives an article in Wikipedia – only those that have significant coverage in reliable sources independent of the subject). Include references to obviously peer-reviewed or fact-checked sources.
Try to include sources that are obviously peer-reviewed, such as Oxford University Press. Show that a journal is peer-reviewed by indicating, for example, that it is from JSTOR or PubMed.
Many encyclopedia entries can be started with information from sources that will easily establish notability within Wikipedia’s guidelines, such as The New York Times,Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, etc.
If possible, cite at least one reliable source on the internet that the new page patrollers can check it to validate your information.
Include at least three different reliable sources in your new article. Be sure to cite different authors and be sure to cite sources that are not the subject itself. For example, the website of an institution is not a reliable source for that institution because it is not independent.
2) The first sentences must establish the article’s notability as it is likely that the new page patrollers will only read the first few sentences of the article in their initial assessment of the article.
“María Jesús Alvarado Rivera (27 May 1878 – 6 May 1971, San Isidro, Lima) was a Peruvian rebel feminist, educator, journalist, writer and social activist. She was noted by the National Council of Women of Peru in 1969 as the “first modern champion of women’s rights in Peru“.
3) Make your article look and sound like a Wikipedia article. Much can be achieved in the presentation of an article – if it looks and sounds like an encyclopedic article, it has a higher probability of being kept.
Write in an encyclopedic style. Wikipedia has a neutral point of view and strives to have an unemotional, balanced tone. It summarizes previously published work and does not advance individual editor’s opinions.
Create sections (“References” and “External links” are the most common in new articles).
Include a WikiProject tag on the talk page of the article.
Label your article a “stub” or “start” if it is short and incomplete.
The articles of well-established editors received less scrutiny than those of new editors because they are written by trusted members of the community. The best way to make your articles and edits “stick” on Wikipedia is to become a community member. Review others’ articles. Work on articles with other editors. Leave suggestions on talk pages. Volunteer to copyedit.
If your article is tagged or nominated for deletion, don’t despair! The Wikipedia community is all about discussion and improvement to the encyclopedia. If you demonstrate your willingness to learn about how to improve the article and the encyclopedia as a whole, you will ultimately have a positive experience.
About the author
Adrianne Wadewitz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Digital Learning and Research at Occidental College specializing in 18th-century children’s literature and the digital humanities. She received her PhD from Indiana University in 2011 and her most recent publication is a series of blog posts in ProfHacker about being a postdoc at a liberal arts college: “A Day in the Life of a Digital Humanities Postdoc“, “Digital Scholarship in the Liberal Arts Tradition“, and “Making Digital Collaboration Visible“.