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Wikipedia:Welcome, newcomers

Hello and welcome to Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia that's being written collaboratively on this web site. Anyone, including you, can edit any article right now by clicking on the edit this page link that appears in every article in Wikipedia.

The project was started in January, 2001. There are already 0 articles in English that are being worked on, with many more articles being written in other languages. As more and more people edit articles, they improve in quality all the time.

All of the site's content is covered by the GNU Free Documentation License, to ensure that it will remain freely distributable forever. See Wikipedia:Copyrights for more information.

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Contributing to Wikipedia

As you are reading this, various people are editing and creating articles. While many PhDs, graduate students and other experts on all kinds of subjects regularly work here, you don't need any special credentials to participate. Some people's immediate reaction is to expect Wikipedia to be a low-quality product, however, reality has shown that many articles have become pretty good. Possibly because of the fact that Wikipedia is open to everyone, they are constantly being reviewed and improved while building on previous work.

You can edit any article directly, or if you want to post your thoughts, questions or comments about an article, you can use the article's talk page (click on the 'Discuss the page' link in the sidebar or at the bottom of the article). You don't even need to be logged in to edit articles, although logging in gives you access to more of the site's features and makes it easier to communicate with other users.

To work together effectively in building the encyclopedia, the Wikipedia community has some established policies and guidelines. There is a strong policy of writing articles from a neutral point of view which means that articles, even on controversial topics, should be unbiased and not be used as platforms for particular opinions. The project is also focused on building an encyclopedia, so there are many things that wikipedia is not. In particular, Wikipedia is not a debate forum, so any discussion about topics should be mainly directed at improving articles.

The Wikipedia community encourages contributors to be bold in editing pages; don't worry too much about making mistakes, as all contributions are monitored by other contributors using the Recent changes page. There are many friendly and experienced Wikipedia contributors who will be glad to help you learn the ropes, and if you have any questions, you can drop by the Village pump to ask it.

Have fun!

Here are a few links to more introductory information:

General information, guides and help

For participants of similar sites

Tips and guidance for starting

The Wikipedia community

  • Wikipedians - different listing of regular contributors, you may insert yourself if you wish.
  • Wikiquette - the Wikipedia etiquette.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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