Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, an online community of individuals interested in building and using a high-quality encyclopedia in a spirit of mutual respect. Therefore, there are certain things that Wikipedia is not.
. Other than verifiability and the other points presented on this page, there is no practical limit to the number of topics Wikipedia can cover or the total amount of content. However, there is an important distinction between what can be done, and what should be done, which is covered under § Encyclopedic content below. Consequently, this policy is not a free pass for inclusion: articles must abide by the appropriate content policies, particularly those covered in the five pillars.
Keeping articles to a reasonable size is important for Wikipedia's accessibility, especially for dial-up and mobile browser readers, since it directly affects page download time (see Wikipedia:Article size). Splitting long articles and leaving adequate summaries is a natural part of growth for a topic (see Wikipedia:Summary style). Some topics are covered by print encyclopedias only in short, static articles, but Wikipedia can include more information, provide more external links, and update more quickly.
Information should not be included in this encyclopedia solely because it is true or useful. A Wikipedia article should not be a complete exposition of all possible details, but a summary of accepted knowledge regarding its subject. Verifiable and sourced statements should be treated with appropriate weight. Although there are debates about the encyclopedic merits of several classes of entries, consensus is that the following are good examples of what Wikipedia is not. The examples under each section are not intended to be exhaustive.
Wikipedia is not a dictionary, or a usage or jargon guide. Wikipedia articles are not:
Visit Wiktionary, our sister project, if you want to help build a dictionary. They would greatly appreciate your help.
Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own thoughts and analyses or to publish new information. Per our policy on original research, please do not use Wikipedia for any of the following:
Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a battleground, or a vehicle for propaganda, advertising and showcasing. This applies to usernames, articles, draftspace, categories, files, talk page discussions, templates, and user pages. Therefore, content hosted in Wikipedia is not for:
Non-disruptive statements of opinion on internal Wikipedia policies and guidelines may be made on user pages and within the Wikipedia: namespace, as they are relevant to the current and future operation of the project. However, article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views on a subject (see Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines).
Wikipedia is not a social networking service like Facebook or Twitter. You may not host your own website, blog, wiki, résumé, or cloud on Wikipedia. Wikipedia pages, including those in user space, are not:
If you are interested in using the wiki technology for a collaborative effort on something else, even just a single page, many free and commercial sites provide wiki hosting. You can also install wiki software on your server. See the installation guide at MediaWiki.org for information on doing this. See also Wikipedia:Alternative outlets.
Your user page is not yours. It is a part of Wikipedia, and exists to make collaboration among Wikipedians easier, not for self-promotion. See Wikipedia:User pages for current consensus guidelines on user pages.
Wikipedia encompasses many lists of links to articles within Wikipedia that are used for internal organization or to describe a notable subject. In that sense, Wikipedia functions as an index or directory of its own content. However, Wikipedia is not a directory of everything in the universe that exists or has existed. Please see Wikipedia:Alternative outlets for alternatives. Wikipedia articles are not:
Wikipedia is an encyclopedic reference, not an instruction manual, guidebook, or textbook. Wikipedia articles should not read like:
Wikipedia is not a collection of unverifiable speculation or presumptions. Wikipedia does not predict the future. All articles about anticipated events must be verifiable, and the subject matter must be of sufficiently wide interest that it would merit an article if the event had already occurred. It is appropriate to report discussion and arguments about the prospects for success of future proposals and projects or whether some development will occur, if discussion is properly referenced. It is not appropriate for editors to insert their own opinions or analyses. Predictions, speculation, forecasts and theories stated by reliable, expert sources or recognized entities in a field may be included, though editors should be aware of creating undue bias to any specific point-of-view. In forward-looking articles about unreleased products, such as films and games, take special care to avoid advertising and unverified claims (for films, see WP:NFF). In particular:
Editors are encouraged to include current and up-to-date information within its coverage, and to develop stand-alone articles on significant current events. However, not all verifiable events are suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. Ensure that Wikipedia articles are not:
To provide encyclopedic value, data should be put in context with explanations referenced to independent sources. As explained in § Encyclopedic content above, merely being true, or even verifiable, does not automatically make something suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia. Wikipedia articles should not be:
Wikipedia may contain content that some readers consider objectionable or offensive—even exceedingly so. Attempting to ensure that articles and images will be acceptable to all readers, or will adhere to general social or religious norms, is incompatible with the purposes of an encyclopedia.
Content will be removed if it is judged to violate Wikipedia policies (especially those on biographies of living persons and neutral point of view) or the laws of the United States (where Wikipedia is hosted). However, because most edits are displayed immediately, inappropriate material may be visible to readers, for a time, before being detected and removed.
Some articles may include images, text, or links which are relevant to the topic but that some people find objectionable. Discussion of potentially objectionable content should usually focus not on its potential offensiveness but on whether it is an appropriate image, text, or link. Beyond that, "being objectionable" is generally not sufficient grounds for the removal of content. The Wikipedia:Offensive material guideline can help assess appropriate actions to take in the case of content that may be considered offensive.
Some organizations' rules or traditions call for secrecy with regard to certain information about them. Such restrictions do not apply to Wikipedia, because Wikipedia is not a member of those organizations; thus Wikipedia will not remove such information from articles if it is otherwise encyclopedic.
The above policies are about Wikipedia's content. The following relate to Wikipedia's governance and processes.
Wikipedia is free and open, but restricts both freedom and openness where they interfere with creating an encyclopedia. Accordingly, . The fact that Wikipedia is an open, self-governing project does not mean that any part of its purpose is to explore the viability of anarchist communities. Our purpose is to build an encyclopedia, not to test the limits of anarchism.
Wikipedia is or any other political system. Its primary (though not exclusive) means of decision making and conflict resolution is editing and discussion leading to consensus—not voting (voting is used for certain matters such as electing the Arbitration Committee). Straw polls are sometimes used to test for consensus, but polls or surveys can impede, rather than foster, discussion and should be used with caution.
While Wikipedia has many elements of a bureaucracy, it is not governed by statute: it is not a quasi-judicial body, and rules are not the purpose of the community. Although some rules may be enforced, the written rules themselves do not set accepted practice. Rather, they document already existing community consensus regarding what should be accepted and what should be rejected.
While Wikipedia's written policies and guidelines should be taken seriously, they can be misused. Do not follow an overly strict interpretation of the letter of policies without consideration for their principles. If the rules truly prevent you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore them. Disagreements are resolved through consensus-based discussion, not by tightly sticking to rules and procedures. Furthermore, policies and guidelines themselves may be changed to reflect evolving consensus.
A procedural error made in a proposal or request is not grounds for rejecting that proposal or request.
A procedural, coding, or grammatical error in a new contribution is not grounds for reverting it, unless the error cannot easily be fixed.
Research about Wikipedia's content, processes, and the people involved can provide valuable insights and understanding that benefit public knowledge, scholarship, and the Wikipedia community, but Wikipedia is not a public laboratory. Research that analyzes articles, talk pages, or other content on Wikipedia is not typically controversial, since all of Wikipedia is open and freely usable. However, research projects that are disruptive to the community or which negatively affect articles—even temporarily—are not allowed and can result in loss of editing privileges. Before starting a potentially controversial project, researchers should open discussion at the Village Pump to ensure it will not interfere with Wikipedia's mission. Regardless of the type of project, researchers are advised to be as transparent as possible on their user pages, disclosing information such as institutional connections and intentions.
Some editors explicitly request to not be subjects in research and experiments. Please respect the wish of editors to opt-out of research.
Wikipedia is not a place to hold grudges, import personal conflicts, carry on ideological battles, or nurture prejudice, hatred, or fear. Making personal battles out of Wikipedia discussions goes directly against our policies and goals. In addition to avoiding battles in discussions, do not try to advance your position in disagreements by making unilateral changes to policies. Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point.
Every user is expected to interact with others civilly, calmly, and in a spirit of cooperation. Do not insult, harass, or intimidate those with whom you have a disagreement. Rather, approach the matter intelligently and engage in polite discussion. If another user behaves in an uncivil, uncooperative, or insulting manner, or even tries to harass or intimidate you, this does not give you an excuse to respond in kind. Address only the factual points brought forward, ignoring the inappropriate comments, or disregard that user entirely. If necessary, point out gently that you think the comments might be considered uncivil, and make it clear that you want to move on and focus on the content issue. If a conflict continues to bother you, take advantage of Wikipedia's dispute resolution process. There are always users willing to mediate and arbitrate disputes between others.
In large disputes, resist the urge to turn Wikipedia into a battleground between factions. Assume good faith that every editor and group is here to improve Wikipedia—especially if they hold a point of view with which you disagree. Work with whomever you like, but do not organize a faction that disrupts (or aims to disrupt) Wikipedia's fundamental decision-making process, which is based on building a consensus. Editors in large disputes should work in good faith to find broad principles of agreement between different viewpoints.
Do not use Wikipedia to make legal or other threats against Wikipedia, Wikipedians, or the Wikimedia Foundation—other means already exist to communicate legal problems. Threats are not tolerated and may result in a ban.
Wikipedia is a volunteer community and does not require the Wikipedians to give any more time and effort than they wish. Focus on improving the encyclopedia itself, rather than demanding more from other Wikipedians. Editors are free to take a break or leave Wikipedia at any time.
Wikipedia is not any of a very long list of terrible ideas. We cannot anticipate every bad idea that someone might have. Almost everything on this page made it here because somebody managed to come up with some new bad idea that had not been anticipated. (See WP:BEANS—it is, in fact, strongly discouraged to anticipate them.) In general, "that is a terrible idea" is always sufficient grounds to avoid doing something, provided there is a good reason that the idea is terrible.
When you wonder what should or should not be in an article, ask yourself what a reader would expect to find under the same heading in an encyclopedia.
When you wonder whether the rules given above are being violated, consider:
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Common outcomes is not official policy, but can be referred to as a record of what has and has not been considered encyclopedic in the past.