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Fixing a Bad Wikipedia Article

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Not all Wikipedia articles are 100% accurate. What do you do when you find a Wikipedia article that needs fixing? In this article, Sams Teach Yourself Wikipedia in 10 Minutes author Michael Miller shows you how to edit any Wikipedia article using the Wiki Markup Language.

Wikipedia is a user-written and user-edited online encyclopedia. That means that anyone can write and edit Wikipedia articles. Unfortunately, not every user is an expert, and not every Wikipedia article is well written and complete.

What do you do, then, if you come across an article that needs clarification, expansion, or plain old fixing? Fortunately, Wikipedia makes it easy for anyone to edit existing articles—provided that you know the proper codes and syntax.

What Can You Edit?

As noted, any Wikipedia user can edit any Wikipedia article. Nothing is sacred; you can edit an article for any of the following reasons:

  • Fix factual errors. Many Wikipedia articles contain incorrect information: the wrong dates or names, secondhand stories, rumor instead of fact, even deliberately wrong or misleading statements. Wikipedia relies on its user base to find and fix bad information in articles; when you find this type of mistake, deliberate or otherwise, it's your duty as an active Wikipedia user to fix it.
  • Remove any perceived bias. Wikipedia articles are supposed to be factual and without bias, but that isn't always the case. Many articles are written to espouse a particular point of view; others read like glorified press releases. Anything you can do to remove bias from an article and create a more even-handed presentation will be appreciated.
  • Add more information. Probably the most common problem with Wikipedia articles is that they're incomplete. Users add what information they're aware of, but that isn't always the whole story. You can add significant value to an article by filling in the gaps of the information covered.
  • Correct bad punctuation or grammar. Not all Wikipedia contributors are good writers, and many articles just don't read well. Maybe the information is good, but the way it's written isn't. Well, that's something you can fix.
  • Format an incorrectly formatted article. Along the same lines, not every contributor knows how to properly format a Wikipedia article. If you're a master of the Wiki Markup Language, you can help clean up the presentation without bothering the existing text.

Bottom line, whatever you find wrong about a Wikipedia article can be fixed—by you.

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