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Wikipedia:List of policies

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All policies are listed at Category:Wikipedia policies. A list that also includes guidelines is at List of policies and guidelines. For an explanatory supplement of this page, see Wikipedia:Simplified ruleset. This page is broken into the following categories:

  • Conduct, which describes how editors can successfully collaborate and what behavior is acceptable
  • Content, which defines the scope of the encyclopedia and the material that is suitable for it
  • Deletion, which explains the processes by which pages, revisions, and logs may be deleted
  • Enforcement, which accounts for various means by which standards may be enforced
  • Legal, which includes rules influenced by legal considerations, and remedies for their misuse
  • Procedural, which documents various processes by which the English Wikipedia operates
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia conduct policies:
Rudeness or insensitivity, whether intentional or not, can distract from and interfere with our work. Dispute resolution forums are available when civil, reasoned discussion breaks down.
Clean start
Any user who is not subject to editing sanctions may abandon their account and start fresh under a new one, as long as the new account is not used in an improper manner.
Consensus among equals is our only tool for resolving content disputes, and our main tool for resolving all other disputes.
Dispute resolution
The first step to resolving any dispute is to talk to those who disagree with you. If that fails, there are more structured forms of discussion available.
Edit warring
If someone challenges your edits, discuss it with them and seek a compromise, or seek dispute resolution. Do not start fights over competing views and versions. Reverting any part of any single page more than three times in twenty-four hours, or even once if long-term edit-warring is apparent, can result in a block on your account.
Editing policy
Improve pages wherever you can, and don't worry about leaving them imperfect. It is advisable to explain major changes.
Do not stop other editors from enjoying Wikipedia by making threats, nitpicking good-faith edits to different articles, repeated annoying and unwanted contacts, repeated personal attacks or posting personal information.
No personal attacks
Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia. Comment on the content, not on the editor. Personal attacks damage the community and deter editors.
Ownership of content
Although you retain some rights under Wikipedia's copyright provisions, pages that you create and edit belong to the community. Others can and often do mercilessly edit "your" material.
Do not use multiple accounts to create the illusion of greater support for an issue, to mislead others, or to circumvent a block. Do not ask your friends to create accounts to support you or anyone.
Username policy
Choose a neutral username with which you will be happy. You can usually change your name if you need to by asking, but you cannot delete it.
Vandalism is any addition, deletion, or change to content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia. It is inappropriate behavior for an online encyclopedia.

Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia content policies:
Article titles
The ideal title for a Wikipedia article is recognizable to English speakers, easy to find, precise, concise, and consistent with other titles.
Biographies of living persons
Articles about living persons, which require a degree of sensitivity, must adhere strictly to Wikipedia's content policies. Be very firm about high-quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. Contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately.
Image use policy
Generally avoid uploading non-free images; fully describe images' sources and copyright details on their description pages, and try to make images as useful and reusable as possible.
Neutral point of view
Everything that our readers can see, including articles, templates, categories and portals, must be written neutrally and without bias.
No original research
Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new interpretation, analysis, or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas that, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation."
Articles should cite sources whenever possible. While we cannot check the accuracy of cited sources, we can check whether they have been published by a reputable publication and whether independent sources have supported them on review. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
What Wikipedia is not
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Please avoid using Wikipedia for other purposes.
Graphic of pencil and manual pencil sharpener
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia deletion policies:
Attack page
A Wikipedia article, page, category, redirect or image that exists primarily to disparage its subject is an "attack page". These pages are subject to being deleted by any administrator at any time.
Criteria for speedy deletion
Articles, images, categories etc. may be "speedily deleted" if they clearly fall within certain categories, which generally boil down to pages lacking content, or disruptive pages. Anything potentially controversial should go through the deletion process instead.
Deletion policy
Deleting articles requires an administrator and generally follows a consensus-forming process. Most potentially controversial deletions require a three-step process and a waiting period of a week.
Content can be hidden from both users and administrators under certain strict criteria.
Proposed deletion
As a shortcut around the Articles for Deletion ("AfD") process, for uncontroversial deletions an article can be proposed for deletion, but only once. If no one contests the proposed deletion within seven days, an administrator may delete the article.
Proposed deletion of biographies of living people
Articles that are unsourced biographies of living persons can be proposed for deletion through a special process. If no one contests the proposed deletion within seven days, an administrator may delete the article. In order to contest the proposed deletion, at least one reliable source supporting at least one statement in the article must be added.
Revision deletion
A function available to administrators to eliminate grossly improper posts and log entries.
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies:
Administrators, like all editors, are not perfect beings. However, in general, they are expected to act as role models within the community, and a good general standard of civility, fairness, and general conduct both to editors and in content matters, is expected. When acting as administrators, they are also expected to be fair, exercise good judgment, and give explanations and be communicative as necessary.
Banning policy
Extremely disruptive editors may be banned from Wikipedia. Please respect these bans, do not bait banned users, and do not help them out. Bans may be appealed to the community, the Arbitration Committee, or the Wikimedia Foundation, depending on the nature of the ban.
Blocking policy
Disruptive editors can be blocked from editing for short, long, or indefinite periods of time.
Page protection policy
Pages can be protected against vandals or during fierce content disputes. Protected pages can, but in general should not, be edited by administrators. In addition, pages undergoing frequent vandalism can be semi-protected to block edits by very new or unregistered editors.
Graphic of balanced scale of justice
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia legal policies:

These are policies with legal implications. Outside of policies, such as those below and the office actions policy, Wikipedia does not censor itself of content that may be objectionable or offensive, or adopt other perennial legal proposals over content, so long as the content obeys the law of the United States. Legal issues are raised by filing a formal complaint with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Child protection
Editors who advocate or attempt to pursue or facilitate inappropriate adult–child relationships, or who identify themselves as paedophiles, are to be blocked indefinitely.
Copyright violations
Relates to material copied from sources that are either not public domain, or are not compatibly licensed without the permission of the copyright holder. Wikipedia has no tolerance for copyright violations in our encyclopedia, and we actively strive to find and remove any violations.
Relates to the copyrighted Wikipedia text being licensed to the public under one or several liberal licenses.
It is Wikipedia policy to delete libelous revisions from the page history. If you believe you have been defamed, please contact us. It is the responsibility of all editors to ensure that material posted on Wikipedia is not defamatory.
No legal threats
Use dispute resolution rather than making legal threats, for everyone's sake, as we respond quickly to complaints of defamation or copyright infringement. If you make legal threats, or take legal action over a Wikipedia dispute, you will be blocked from editing, so that the matter is not exacerbated through other channels. If you do take legal action, please refrain from editing until it is resolved.
Non-free content criteria
The Exemption Doctrine Policy for the English Wikipedia. The cases in which you can declare usage of a non-free image, audio clip, or video clip as "fair use" are quite narrow. You must specify the exact use, and only use the image or clip in that one context. Only use non-free content as a last resort.
Paid-contribution disclosure
Editors must disclose their employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which they receive, or expect to receive, compensation.
Reusing Wikipedia content
Relates to the basis of using Wikipedia content in your own publications. Most of Wikipedia's material may be freely used under the CC BY-SA and GFDL licences. Which means you must credit the authors, re-license the material under CC BY-SA or GFDL, and allow free access to it.
Terms of use
The terms of use are established by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Pages currently in Category:Wikipedia procedural policies:
Arbitration Committee/CheckUser and Oversight
Elections, appointments and removals
Rules for how the Arbitration Committee decides Requests for arbitration.
Bot policy
Programs that update pages automatically in a useful and harmless way may be welcome, as long as their owners seek approval first and are careful to keep them from running amok or being a drain on resources.
CheckUser is a tool allowed to be used by a small number of editors who are permitted to examine user IP information and other server log data under certain circumstances, for the purposes of protecting Wikipedia against actual and potential disruption and abuse.
Edit filter helper
Edit filter helper is a user group that allows non-administrators to view the details, code, and logs of private edit filters, but not to edit them.
Event coordinator
The event coordinator user group allows users to create new accounts without limits, and to temporarily add the confirmed user right to new accounts.
File mover
The file mover user right allows users to rename files subject to policy.
Global rights policy
English Wikipedia restrictions on users who have global rights on all Foundation sites
Interface administrators
Interface administrators are users who can edit all scripts and style pages in the MediaWiki namespace.
IP block exemption
Editors in good standing whose editing is disrupted by unrelated blocks or firewalls may request IP block exemption, which allows editing on an otherwise-blocked IP address.
New pages patrol/Reviewers
New page reviewers work with the New Pages Feed and the Page Curation Tool to process, approve, or tag newly created pages.
Open proxies
Open proxies may be blocked from editing for any period at any time to deal with editing abuse.
Page mover
The page mover permission allows editors to move pages, and subpages, without leaving redirects.
Policies and guidelines
Understanding and changing policies and guidelines
Template editor
The template editor permission allows editors to make changes to templates and modules that are protected with template-protection.
Volunteer response team
If you disagree with an edit that was made referencing a volunteer response ticket number as a reason, or in the edit summary, please follow the steps listed at "Wikipedia:Volunteer response team#Dispute resolution".
Wikimedia policy
A list of Wikimedia policy links of interest to Wikipedians, along with links to the texts of the CC BY-SA and GFDL licenses


Ignore all rules
"If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."
Password strength requirements
While all users are asked to maintain a strong password, some users with advanced permissions are required to do so and the strength of their passwords may be audited by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Recent changes

See also

Related essays
  • Simplified rule-set – some basic aspect of Wikipedia norms and practices.
    • Eight rules for editing  – if you start out by following these simple rules, the rest should come naturally.
    • Ten rules for editing  – Wikipedia can be daunting, but here we provide tips to make editing smoother.
    • Trifecta – ultra fast overview of foundational principles related to policies and guidelines.
  • How to create policy – recommendations regarding the creation and updating of policy and guideline pages
  • The rules are principles – policies and guidelines exist as rough approximations of their underlying principles.