Wikipedia:Editor's index to Wikipedia/About

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In general[edit]


Although this is called an "editor's index", it's really intended to be an index for anyone involved with Wikipedia in other than the role of a reader. Most of the topics are directly relevant to editing of articles, but some topics are less directly relevant to editing, and a few are only distantly relevant. For example:

  • There is information on how to extract data from Wikipedia. While not immediately relevant to editing on Wikipedia, such extraction might be part of a procedure to analyze data offline, with results that eventually inform edits to articles on Wikipedia (for example, offline data analysis might reveal inconsistencies in naming conventions, which an editor might then correct in the online articles). Editors sometimes want to do this, and are sometimes asked about downloads. The index can help with both.
  • Some editors are interested in Wikipedia as a community, although (arguably) some community aspects (including things such as games) are only peripherally related to actually editing articles. The index covers just about anything an editor might do that involves an edit to a page in any namespace within Wikipedia.
  • Another way to view the editor's index is that it serves the interests of Metapedians, for whom editing articles is in theory the primary raison d'être, but the various means to that end sometimes become quite circuitous. The index is a guide to the vast amount of material Metapedians have written about what they do.


There are basically two approaches for finding something in the index:

  • You can use the index as you would a paper index, looking in the "O" section, for example, for "organizations".
  • You can do a Ctrl+F search in your Web browser, looking for a particular word or phrase.

For common words, such as "link", "edit", and "user", the first approach is better. For less common words, the second is usually better: many times, a particular word (keyword) appears only in the title of a page, or in subtopic within a major topic.

The index may not list every possible synonym for the term you have in mind, so if you don't find what you want on your first attempt, try searching for related terms. The particular words you initially think of to describe a concept may not exactly match the words other editors used to document it. Also, the first relevant link you find in the index may not tell the whole story on your topic of interest. You should repeat your Ctrl+F searches to be sure you find all instances of your search terms in the index. You may wish to look for additional keywords in the titles and bodies of the first pages you find, and search the index for them as well.

The more familiar you become with the index, and with the jargon of Wikipedia, the more successful your searches will be. If you cannot find what you are looking for, ask at the Help desk for the "simpler" questions, or at the Village pump (technical) for the "technical" questions.

Linking to a major topic within this index[edit]

A major topic is one that has multiple entries. A topic that says "see X" or just points to a single wikilink (essentially, a topic that is only a single line in the index) is a minor topic. You shouldn't link to a minor topic, there is no point in doing so.

Every major topic has an anchor - typically six characters. This makes it easy to post a wikilink like this:

  • For information about privacy at Wikipedia, see that section of the Editor's index.

The format of the wikilink in this example is:

[[WP:EITW#Privac|that section]]

where "#Privac" is the anchor within the index.

  • If you know the first six characters of a major topic in the index, a six character link will always work.
  • If the topic is only four or five characters, you can use those four or five characters as a shorter anchor.
  • If you're not 100% sure of the exact name of the major topic, one approach is simply to guess - then, after clicking the "Show preview" button, you can follow the wikilink to the index and check where the anchor you've entered actually points to.

Most major topics in the index, and some of the more important minor topics, visibly display their anchor names with the {{Shortcut}} template. This makes it easy to copy a shortcut such as WP:EIW#Citetools, and then paste it elsewhere on Wikipedia (typically in the Project: (Wikipedia:) or Talk: namespaces). For example, this saves time when answering questions on the Help desk, since the index links to pages that answer most Help desk questions.

Editing this index[edit]

As with any project page, evaluate any potential change you want to make to the index. Because of the structured nature of an index, changes can have wider impact than on more narrative pages. For significant changes, consider posting your proposed change on the index's talk page.

Notes on the format of the index[edit]

Asterisks and spaces[edit]

The convention in the index (note the spaces, they're important) is:

* Topic:
**[[Page name of entry 1]]
** Subtopic
***[[Page name of entry 2]]

The space just before a topic or subtopic name is very useful when editing - it helps find one's place in the index. It's also useful when dumping the contents of the index into a word processor or spreadsheet, and then sorting. Such spaces are invisible to the reader.

Names and redirects[edit]

When the name of a page changes (that is, a page is moved), the index should also be changed. The intent of the index is to show the current name of pages, not just get an editor to a correct page when clicking a wikilink. (The current name is important when searching, for example.)

The easiest way to find which pages have been renamed is the user script User:Dschwen/highlightredirects.js, which highlights (in green) redirects on a page, after the (added) tab on the page is clicked. Running this once per month or so is sufficient. (This also is helpful in identifying pages which have been merged, so that entries can be removed as appropriate.)


As mentioned above, every major topic has a six-character anchor, as a way to jump to a specific place in the index. In edit mode, these anchors look like:

<span id="New ar" ></span>

Originally, the index used three-character anchors. These have been left in place to avoid breaking existing links; it is recommended that you not link to these, though if you do, they will work (remain in place) for the indefinite future.

In some cases, there are anchors that are seven or more characters. Unless there is a very, very good reason, don't add any more of these.

Anchors could have been the same as topic names, such as: <span id="Naming an article" ></span>. But that would have made anchors brittle: if the topic used in this example were to be changed from "Naming an article" to "Naming of articles", all of the links to this anchor would break and would have to be found and fixed, unless an additional anchor was added. More importantly, it would require external (incoming) links to a major topic to spell the anchor exactly right; it's much easier to just get the first six characters or so right.

Piped links[edit]

Piped links are not used for entries in the index, because showing the full wikilink adds value. In some cases, this requires somewhat duplicate text, in order to preserve the alphabetical order of the index. An example is:

Conservation: Wikipedia:Conservation status

Piped links are used for internal navigation (as anchors, as mentioned above), and (rarely) as part of the explanatory text for an entry in the index, but never as part of first wikilink in an entry.


  • Only one shortcut (of the format [[WP:SHRTCT]] to a given policy or guideline is listed.
  • The shortcut follows immediately after the name of the policy or guideline.
  • Shortcuts are listed only if they are frequently used (which, generally, means that the policy, guideline, or essay is frequently cited). The goal is not to clutter up the index with shortcuts that aren't particularly useful; those policies and guidelines with shortcuts then stand out as being (generally) more important.
  • Use the {{Shortcut compact}} template to display shortcuts, rather than the larger {{Shortcut}} template (which interacts poorly with nested list items).

"Guideline", "Policy", and "Manual of Style"[edit]

Generally, these the entries for these three types of pages are identified by

(Manual of Style)

immediately after the shortcut, if there is one, or immediately after the page name if there is not.


  • If the name of the guideline or policy includes "guideline(s)" or "policy/policies" or "Manual of Style" within it, this is not repeated after the name
  • Since all Manual of Style pages are guidelines; "(guideline)" is not added to Manual of Style entries

What isn't in the index[edit]

The following are omitted from the index:

  • Almost all templates. There are less than 20 in the index, out of the thousands that exist. Don't add one without understanding why only these 20 or so are included.
  • Almost all categories. There are about 50 in the index. Again, don't add one without understanding why so few are now in the index.
  • (Most) failed proposals. The barrier to proposing something on Wikipedia is quite low; as a result, many proposals are not of the highest quality. And many that had some merit have been overtaken by events.
    • Note: Where these are useful to know about (to help prevent someone unknowingly resurrect one, or point an editor to a prior attempt that could be useful as a starting point), these are in the index. Some (the lesser important) are invisible comments. Restraint in adding these is highly recommended; though not visible to the reader, they make editing the index more difficult.
  • WikiProjects on a particular topic (again, too many). Those interested in a particular topic can find if there is a WikiProject by checking Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Directory or Category:WikiProjects, or by looking at talk/discussion pages of articles that are in the topic of interest.
    • Note: cross-cutting WikiProjects (for example, a WikiProject about categories, a WikiProject on disambiguation) are in the index. In most cases, such cross-cutting projects are listed even if inactive.
  • (Most) entries solely for the purpose of pointing the user to another place in the index. For example, "Cinema" could be added as "Cinema: see Films", but (a) it's more likely that someone will search on "films" or "movies" (the latter does in fact point to "films"), and (b) if a Ctrl+F search on "cinema" fails, it's extremely likely that "films" or "movies" will be immediately tried.
    • The index is searchable in ways that a paper index is not; it therefore doesn't have to absolutely mimic a paper index to be fully effective.
      • There are a few exceptions, generally because (a) a term that is common isn't used in a page title (rare), and (b) where the term is so common that searching the index for it could be frustrating. (Example: "As of")
  • Many (quite possibly most) essays in Wikipedia namespace. If all essays were in the index, it's quite possible that the majority of entries would be such essays, which would significantly lessen the value of the index. Wikipedia namespace essays that are in the index:
    • Are frequently cited (as evidenced by "What links here").
    • Cover a subject in a way that is both insightful and outside of what appears in policies, guidelines, and technical pages. This, of course, is subjective, but both including all essays and excluding all essays are inferior approaches.
  • Almost all essays in user space. As of August 2007 there were roughly a dozen of these. ("Roughly" because some pages are difficult to categorize as being an essay or not.)
  • Humor pages. These can be confusing to new editors, and to editors for whom English is a second language. I think such pages are useful, but as a way for one editor to remind another(s) about a facet of Wikipedia, or for editors to share a moment of amusement among themselves.

Also, there was no attempt to list every possible topic as a topic. For example, "Summary style" is not a topic, because the user should look at the "Articles" topic, which has other entries similar to Wikipedia:Summary style. A user looking for pages about "summary style" is expected to use the search feature of his/her browser. (Note to Internet Explorer users - Firefox has a far better search feature - it searches as you type. Consider downloading it - it's free - and trying it out. You may never go back to IE.)

Links to websites outside of Wikipedia and its siblings, and other "unofficial" entries[edit]

The purpose of the index isn't to document what is official, it's to help editors be more effective and efficient. The index therefore contains these "unofficial" entries:

  • Tools, even if in userspace or completely outside of Wikipedia
  • Statistics and similar factual information, regardless of location

Editors who have created a new page or are otherwise highly involved with a page are (as noted above) requested not to add such a page to the index. Rather, please suggest, on the main talk/discussion page, that such a page be added (if this in fact seems appropriate), and let other (uninvolved) editors decide. (For the reasoning as to why authors shouldn't add links to their own pages, see Wikipedia:Autobiography and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest.)


  • A large amount of content to start the index came from the page User:SP-KP/Wikipedia Topics, copied on November 22, 2006
  • A number of important concepts in the index, most notably the anchors, were suggested by Teratornis, who also contributed significantly to the first drafts of this page.
  • The majority of work on the index between November 22, 2006, when the index was started, and January 8, 2008, when it was moved from userspace to projectspace, was done by John Broughton.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • mw:Extension:IndexFunction - a MediaWiki extension that lets you build a simple index automatically by adding indexing code to the pages you want to index (i.e., embedded indexing). That is opposite to the method used to build the Editor's index (i.e., manually editing a page of links to other pages).