Wikipedia:Don't overwhelm the newbies

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Joining Wikipedia can be like wading into the water at an oceanfront beach. At first, it seems pleasant, so you go further out, into deeper and deeper waters. Suddenly, a big wave appears, and gets bigger and bigger until it crashes onto you. That wave is WP:List of policies and guidelines. A helpful Wikipedian places the {{Welcomeg}} on your talk page, and you diligently start to read. Five years later, you give up.

Don't overwhelm the newbies![edit]

There are many policies, guidelines, and essays. They're all worth reading, eventually. But there's no need to tell a newbie to read them all, now. If you need to tell a newbie about the need for notability, link to WP:N, or a more specific policy (such as WP:Notability (authors)), but don't link to WP:V, WP:NOT, WP:NPOV, WP:COI, and WP:NOR as well. Whenever possible, link to simpler pages, such as WP:Referencing for beginners. Better yet, just tell the newbie the problem, so he doesn't have to read the entire policy himself.

Biting vs. Overwhelming[edit]

There has long been a guideline known as Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers. The guideline suggests being extra-civil, and explaining a lot. These are extremely important rules. But the guideline does not prohibit bombarding a newbie with an abundance of policies, which the newbie will often assume he must read in their entirety. A newbie may receive a very friendly message with many links, which can drive away the newbie as quickly as insulting him. So don't bite, but don't overwhelm either!

Examples
  • "Your so-called references to the subject's website don't prove anything, as per RS. If you're not here to contribute facts, you don't belong here."

The above (made-up) example is a bit extreme, but the following conversation (minus the names) really occurred, in the Teahouse - where one should be extra-careful.

Can I use school or local publications as references for an article about a high school?

I want my high school students to work on completing the article about our school but have not found a very good example yet of a high school page. I am particularly concerned with students' ability to find published sources with the information they need. For example, if they are writing about the football team, they will inevitably go first to the football coach to find out about the history of team. Can they use old yearbooks, school newspapers, and local newspapers as published references?

Hi! I can help you, just give me one second.
All right, sorry about that. At this page there is a boatload of applicable information that may be of use to you. As for your question on sources, two examples of school district articles I've found are this one and this one. I think you, however are more interested in the article on your high school. Wikipedia needs to be written from a neutral point of view, so potential conflicts of interest are of concern. I'm sorry for the number of links I've posted on this page related to policy...I promise, I only have one more. Our guideline on reliable sources is located here. The Go Phightins! abridged version would essentially be as follows: the best sources are independent of the subject and are reputable (e.g., newspapers, magazines, etc.). I would say that local newspapers are definitely permissible, school newspapers are borderline, so it would be better if you could find something else, but in a pinch, I suppose you could use them, and I would stay away from yearbooks. If you have any further questions at all, do not hesitate to contact me at my talk page or via email (a link is on my talk page). This sounds like a really cool project and I would love to assist you in any way possible. Thanks again,

Enough said.

See also[edit]

Related[edit]

Unrelated, but important[edit]


There are also over a thousand essays in Category:Wikipedia essays. While you do not need to follow every essay, you should still read all of them.

Last but not least, read WP:Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point, as this section is a clear violation.