Wikipedia:Be bold in updating pages

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Be bold!
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The Wikipedia community exhorts users to be bold in updating articles. Wikis develop faster when people fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure the language is precise, and so on. Expect everyone to be bold. It's okay. It's what everyone expects. How many times have you read something and thought, "Why aren't these pages copy-edited?" Wikipedia not only allows but wants you to add, revise and edit the article yourself. It does require some amount of politeness, but it works. You'll see.

If someone writes an inferior article, a merely humorous article, an article stub, or outright patent nonsense, don't worry about his/her feelings. Correct it, add to it, and, if it's a total waste of time, replace it with brilliant prose. That's the nature of a Wiki.

And of course, others here will boldly and mercilessly edit what you write. Don't take it personally. They, like all of us, just want to make Wikipedia as good as it can possibly be.


...but don't be reckless!

New users in particular are often entranced by the openness of Wikipedia and dive right in. That's a good thing. But please note: be bold in updating pages does not mean that you should make large changes or deletions to long articles on complex, controversial subjects with long histories, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Abortion. In addition, making large-scale changes to Featured articles, which are recognized as Wikipedia's best articles for their completeness, accuracy, and neutrality, is often a bad idea.

In many such cases, the text as you find it has come into being after long and arduous negotiations between Wikipedians of diverse backgrounds and points of view. An incautious edit to such an article can be likened to stirring up a hornet's nest, and other users who are involved in the page may react angrily. Of course, the editing of glaring grammatical errors is welcome.

If you encounter an article on a controversial subject that you would like to edit, it's a good idea first to read the article in its entirety, read the comments on the talk page, and view the page history to get a sense of how the article came into being and what its current status is.

If you are unsure how others will view your contributions, and you want to change or delete anything substantial in the text, it's a good idea to either:

  1. Copy it to the Talk page and list your objections there (if the material in question is a sentence or so in length)
  2. List your objections on the Talk page, but leave the main article as is (if the material is substantially longer than a sentence)

Then, wait a bit for responses. If no one objects, proceed, but always move large deletions to the Talk page and list your objections to the text so that other people will understand your changes and will be able to follow the history of the page. Also be sure to leave a descriptive edit summary detailing your change and reasoning.

Don't let that scare you off!

With the vast majority of articles, feel free to dive right in and make broad changes as you see fit. However with sensitive subjects a caution is better advised, and you'll usually recognize those by the existence of polarized points of view. And even if you don't, being bold is generally a defensible position. You're unlikely to be the first person to have made a change to a controversial article, and you won't be the last.

That said, contributions that add new facts and information to an article are likely to be welcome, but in all other cases be prepared to provide a reasonable rationale at talk pages, especially when deleting pieces of text.

Actions and edits with widespread effects

Some caution is also advised if your changes affect many other pages, such as editing a template or moving a highly linked-to page. While not required, it is recommended that before making this type of major change you familiarize yourself with the relevant policy or guideline (such as Wikipedia:Naming conventions if contemplating a page move). Also, it is considered very polite to be willing to fix any problems created (such as broken redirects or formatting problems) in the affected articles.

See also

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