Wikipedia talk:Contribute what you know or are willing to learn more about

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Contribute what you know or are willing to learn about[edit]

Supporters of this rule include:

  • JHK,
  • Danny,
  • AxelBoldt,
  • KJ Supports it with reservations. Even a stub is better than a non-existant page in a lot of cases. If you can say trevalla is a kind of Australian fish' that tells someone more about the subject than they probably knew before. ~KJ
  • Eclecticology
  • Wapcaplet supports, mostly. Perfect stubs are better than nothing.
  • GrahamN thinks it is a good guiding principle, but it shouldn't be a called a "rule".
  • The Anome
  • Toby Bartels
  • Martin (as a suggestion - we think this is most efficient... but if you want to be inefficient, then that's fine!)
  • irismeister 18:55, 2004 Feb 19 (UTC)

Opponents include:

  • 24 (if you think it should be there, that's useful to others, so write that seemingly useless stub--that's a bit more information than they had before.)

Always make articles as complete as possible[edit]

For reference, the original version was:

One of Wikipedia's rules to consider: Whenever you write a page, always make it as complete and comprehensive as possible. Don't create an article until it is in form ready for publication. If you feel that your article is seriously incomplete and you are urged to publish it please insert boilerplate text from Wikipedia:Stub into the article.

Supporters of this rule include:

  • Kpjas
  • irismeister 18:55, 2004 Feb 19 (UTC) (2 cents - although it increases deletionism, it might encourage serious authors, and possibly reduce the newbies' pyramid's top, deflating author-per-editor ratios :-)
  • [your name here]

Opponents of this rule include:

Note: on 29 June 2004 I reverted edits by (Megadeath) on 14 June 2004 to last version by as of 25. March 2004. The Megadeath edits were vandalism, which replaced the "Always make articles as complete as possible" section. The 14 Jun 2004 edit by removed the Megadeath vandalism, but didn't restore the "complete as possible" section. Subsequent edits were just another case of vandalism and a reversion to correct it. So I think my revert of 29 June 2004 just finished the task of repairing the Megadeath vandalism of 14 June 2004, and was neutral as far as changing the content of the page. I see there's a debate about the wisdom of the "complete as possible" guideline, and I don't intend this edit to be part of that debate. Jim DeLaHunt

Further Discussion[edit]

A possible related rule might be "You don't have to be perfect before you write about something" ... or similar wording. If someone feels this merits a separate rule than by all means set it up.

We all have disconnected bits of random data rattling in our heads. At the same time we may be afraid that that knowledge is not perfect enough to write about. Perfectionism is a particular problem in the education of gifted children. If you don't know all the details about a topic don't let that stop you from writing. Be free to include question marks to show doubts, thus if you write "John James(?) Jones" you are telling me that you are uncertain about the middle name. Somebody else out there in Wikiland will know the answer, and fix it. Eclecticology

"Don't create an article until it is in form ready for publication"

I really do not like this phrase. It will IMO put people off.

In fact I don't think I like this rule at all. What's wrong with someone making an incomplete article? Theresa knott 15:19 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I agree with Theresa. If we want to attract more people to edit, I think we have to accept that more experienced contributors may have to expand, format and wikify to help newcomers find their feet. However, I think it is reasonable for experienced contributors to try not to impose on their colleagues more than is necessary
jimfbleak 15:27 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Every small contribution should be welcome. However, if you contribute just a sentence or so, consider not creating a new article, but incorporate it in the most related existing article. - Patrick 15:22 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I hate this rule. There is nothing wrong with a stub. LittleDan 15:25 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I object to that quoted sentence too. I think more anxious people will misinterpret that to mean that an article has to be polished before it is posted. Editing is, and should remain, a collaborative effort. There is a minimum standard -- in my experience two decent sentences written in comprensible but not necessarily perfect English seems to be enough to avoid complaints. -- Tim Starling 15:28 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

[1] shows many new "articles" which are each just a copy of one line of list of phobias. This does not seem very useful (and indeed does not satisfy the criterion of two sentences). - Patrick 08:32 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

There needs to be an option. I've had a couple of articles that I built in pieces, and added each part as they were done. (See Daniel Morgan and its article history.) The technique allows me to resolve links, adjust related articles, etc. It also lets others comment or adjust my work as it is being developed.

If we really want this as a rule, I would be happier with a suggested approach of creating a stub that references a /Temp subpage that is built up, then moved over the stub when finished. Lou I 15:39 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

This is left to Wikipedians to decide when they think their articles are fit to be published. No limits set. This is an observation from perusing the ancient pages list. Articles happen to be reviewed almost instantaneously (as they appear on RC) or they can stay unreviewed with embarrassing errors for months (years?). Cooperation and collective authorship that are behind the "Always leave something undone" rule were great in the old days when there were 50-100 edits daily not 3000+. People are reviewing new articles and new edit only "part-time". This rule is meant for the good of Wikipedia and to maintain good overall quality of Wikipedia texts. Kpjas 15:40 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Surely the more edits there are, the more people there are, therfore the more people reviewing the rc ? Theresa knott 15:45 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

These are our hopes and feelings. Facts seem to contradict this. How come one can find so many poor or outright false articles that lie undetected for a year and a half. I even remember coming across an article with the whole text "hello I am John" and it was quite old.
I think we need some research (statistics) to find out if the current editorial process will hold out in the nearest future.
Kpjas 16:11 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with this rule. It defeats the whole nature of collaborative editing and the wiki concept in general. To me, it seems that practically all of the benefits of Wikipedia derive from its collaborative, piece-meal nature. Someone writes a stub; someone else adds a couple nuggets of information; someone corrects a bit of spelling; someone more knowledgeable about the subject comes in and in a couple broad strokes hammers out a good outline article; it gets fleshed out by 20 other people. It is more like Jazz, and less like Classical. This rule seems very counterproductive, and likely to scare many new (or even some old) contributors away. -- Wapcaplet 16:00 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Suppose I'll support this rule, since there's no point in a discussion page, where everyone agrees, and everyone seems to hate the rule... Just as long as I don't actually have to give any reasons for this ridiculous wonderful rule, as it's impossible to come up with any half sane reason for this crazy rule so divine it transcends Earthly logic! كسيپ Cyp 16:20 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

No. User:Anthere

A rule with even less support than Always leave something undone! Wow! I disagree as well, for essentially the same reasons.
Kpjas - note that users of Wikipedia do not use the ancient pages list, and rarely the random page list, so their exposure to junk is considerably less than you fear. For example, PC Magazine said "Surprisingly, our time spent on Wikipedia turned up no junk entries and no defacements". That's the sort of comment that, to me, totally validates the Wikipedia process. Yes, there is vandalism, but soft security makes it harmless. Martin 21:57 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)
I don't deny that Wikipedia is wondeful and so far it has been a success as long as editorial process leading to production of reasonable quality encyclopedic content goes. But... "Our goal ... is to create a free encyclopedia--indeed, the largest encyclopedia in history, in both breadth and depth. We also want Wikipedia to become a reliable resource." And there was no analysis (AFAIK) of article quality and trends in it. Surely there are no barriers to improvement of the , let's called them, underdeveloped articles but I notice that most stubs remain stubs.
The opposition to this rule to consider is quite understandable, people care about Wikipedia's growth. But please make it clear to newcomers and old hands alike:
create stubs responsibly
hunt and kill stubs more actively.
Kpjas 08:03 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)
If you want to analyse Wikipedia quality, do so - start by updating wikipedia:statistics, for example. If you produce good evidence you might convince us of the merits of this guideline. Until then, we are likely to remain skeptical.
Creating stubs responsibly is already covered at The perfect stub article and Contribute what you know or are willing to learn about. "hunting and killing" stubs is already covered at find or fix a stub.
Ironically, one part of creating stubs responsibly is not creating new articles on subjects that are already covered elsewhere. Martin 09:08 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)
done. Martin 09:13 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Here's a thought that nobody seems to have considered. Most responsible newbies, when experimenting, will either do so in the sandbox, or in their own page, or will immediately delete their "vandalism". Anyone who creates a page with the text "hello I am John" and fails to blank it, is probably not the sort of person to take any notice of a rule like this anyway.Theresa knott 08:19 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I added "more": "Contribute what you know or are willing to learn more about". You can not contribute anything you do not know yet. - Patrick 10:04 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I disagree with this. Part of the point of "or are willing to learn [more] about" is that you need know nothing when you decide to contribute. But you are willing to learn about it, and so you do learn about it -- before, of course, actually writing anything. With the "more" in, the whole clause becomes meaningless.

That said, I think that the entire clause is confusing, and so we should really go further than you did and just say Contribute what you know. After all, if you learn about something before you contribute, then you know it when you contribute, don't you? If we want to point out that you might not know anything know, but instead learn about it and then contribute, well, the text explains that. But the title should be short and to the point.

-- Toby Bartels 21:26 19 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I like Wikipedia:Contribute what you know. Martin 23:51 19 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I like the phrase " ...or are willing to learn more about". I have started several new articles because I wanted to learn more about a subject. It was an incentive to me to do some research. I appreciate Toby's point that by the time I contributed I actually did know something about them, but this seems to miss the point somehow. GrahamN 12:39 20 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Very well ... but do we agree that adding "more" does miss the point -- it misses the point of the phrase "or are willing to learn about". -- Toby Bartels 16:10 1 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I do not mind renaming to the short title. One learns by just reading Wikipedia, by preparing a contribution, and by reactions (additions, corrections) on one's contribution. - Patrick 13:09 20 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Idea to lower down stubs[edit]

I don't know if this has been proposed before, since I'm new here, but how about a Sandbox namespace for articles? Something like:

There is no text on this article.
Help Wikipedia by creating a new article or by contributing in the construction of it. blah blah blah.

Where the 2nd link points to /wiki/Sandbox:Title_of_article.


  • avoids stubs
  • avoids innacurate and incomplete information
  • in case of media coverage, the media will notice that Wikipedia doesn't list incomplete articles
  • stronger relationships between Wikipedians, since they all discussed the article before publishing it


  • infamous stub controversial issues will arise
  • less articles created, since there is no reason to fix the stub because it is not listed in Wikipedia yet
  • media will think that Wikipedia is vague since it lacks hundreds of entries (which are really on "under construction" process)
  • who determines where it is valid to move the article from Sandbox to Wikipedia
  • more work load or memory usage as articles will have to be moved from Sandbox to Wikipedia/Title_of_article, or Sandboxes will have to be deleted

That's what I'm currently doing with Hawk helicopter for the simple reason that there is no need to create a stub for it (see UH-60 Black Hawk) and that I asked a fellow Wikipedian to help me publish it.

What do you all think?

--Maio 14:06, Jan 14, 2004 (UTC)

Attention : revert needed[edit]

I added the attention sign to the article. Current text has nothing to do with the topic. Some competent user please revert to original, I dont know how.