by Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates
September 2008, 536 pp.
Myxomatosis. The Order of Canada. Noble gas. Catherine de’ Medici. The History of Superman? Whether you’re doing serious research on the Web or just settling an argument, it’s easy to get caught up in Wikipedia’s two million articles. And that’s not such a bad thing. But how’d all the information get there in the first place? And how can you tell if it’s reliable?
Or say you want to become a part of Wikipedia and make your own contributions. Where do you begin?
In How Wikipedia Works, you’ll learn the skills required to use and contribute to the world’s largest reference work—like what constitutes good writing and research and how to work with images and templates.
With insight, anecdotes, and tips from three Wikipedia veterans, you’ll learn how to:
Wikipedia is made up of people just like you: students, professors, and everyday experts and fans. With about 10,000 articles added to Wikipedia each week, there are plenty of opportunities to join this global community. How Wikipedia Works explains how you can make the Web’s go-to source for information even better.
About the Author
Phoebe Ayers (user:phoebe) is a science and engineering reference librarian at UC Davis. She has been editing Wikipedia since 2003 and is an organizer of the Wikimania conferences.
Table of Contents
Part I: Content
Part II: Editing
Part III: Community
Part IV: Other Projects
Appendix A: Reusing Wikimedia Content
View the detailed Table of Contents (PDF)
View the Index (PDF)(top)
Jumping Monkeys, a weekly show devoted to parenting and the digital age, interviewed How Wikipedia Works author Phoebe Ayers about how kids and teens can use Wikipedia wisely. Listen to Episode 68 here!
"This book was created by Wikipedians, and as a result, I have never read a better summary of how Wikipedia works. Anyone who wants to understand this miracle of the Internet should buy this book!"
"To write every day is good advice, but to publish every day is even better. This book shows how your casual scholarship and the Wikipedia community work together so that you can be read tomorrow."
"Frank, helpful, honest, endlessly informative—this book embodies the best of Wikipedia's values."
"This wonderful book resolves Wikipedia's paradox: Anyone can edit it, but to make your edits stick, you need to know what you are doing. Editing Wikipedia means navigating a minefield of implicit norms, tacit knowledge, secret lore, suggested policies, and enforceable regulations."
"As Wikipedia has grown, its processes, policies, systems, and tools have become inscrutable to many existing and would-be editors. How Wikipedia Works provides an accessible window onto these processes and thoughtful tour through the maze of Wikipedia policy pages. It's the thoughtful, comprehensive, and freely licensed manual that I've been waiting years for. Wikipedia would be much improved if every Wikipedia editor, new and old, were given a copy."
"How Wikipedia Works provides plenty of clear step-by-step lessons. [It is] probably the best and most complete book on Wikipedia to date."
"Okay, so you've been editing Wikipedia for a while now, but with all that content and all those participants, do you understand how the information behemoth really works? How Wikipedia Works could be the ultimate road map to a higher Wikipedia consciousness for the dead tree set that feels more comfortable when their online enterprises are backed by words written on paper."
"Whether you are interested in supporting Wikipedia in improving standards or just fancy adding your own articles about your favourite long-lost cartoon hero, How Wikipedia Works is a great one-stop source for information on the world’s go-to source for information."
How Wikipedia Works is "very interesting, and although it is not a light read or a quick read, it is an in-depth look at Wikipedia that is sure to get you on your way to using it and maybe even contributing to it."
"The authors do not disappoint. It is all there in an easy-to-read, well-written, and detailed analysis. As a constant and active user of Wikipedia, I was thoroughly impressed and informed."
"I highly recommend How Wikipedia Works to anyone with any interest in Wikipedia. It is a must have for anyone that would like to give editing Wikipedia a try."
"I think new users, and those interested in learning more about Wikipedia, will find this book to be a great guide to understanding Wikipedia, and the community behind it."
"I think this is a fabulous contribution to the canon of online literature and recommend it to anyone interested in the subject area."
"Whether you are simply interested in the process or you're a power editor, this book has a little something for everyone. From the very basics to the most complex it's an interesting read and a great resource."
"Put simply, if you want to know what all of those people who contribute to Wikipedia are so busy doing, here's your answer."
"For me, the selling feature would be the History section. It highlights what How Wikipedia Works and No Starch Press seem to be striving for, to take some of the mystery out of "The Internet." Of course I can make my way through the world just fine without knowing what GNU stands for, but I do feel just a little better having a handle on what some of these terms mean."
"How Wikipedia Works is a fine reference guide to writing articles for Wikipedia. If you've ever had the urge to add your two bits to Wikipedia, get this book. Your contribution will be written according to Wikipedia's guidelines, and so will be taken more seriously."
"[The authors] provide a well-laid-out, detailed user manual for editing Wikipedia."
"Written by people who routinely edit Wikipedia articles, this book provides a thorough grounding on every aspect of the site, including how to tell if the information you are reading is reliable."
How Wikipedia Works is a "well-laid-out, detailed user manual for editing Wikipedia...Recommended."