FamilySearch Wiki:FAQ/Contributing

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Getting started

Do I have to register to edit pages?

No. Anyone can edit without any kind of registration (except disruptive users who have been banned.) 

Do I have to use my real name?

Real names are not required; some users use real names, some don't.


What is the difference between a page and an article?

The term "page" encompasses all the material on the Wiki, including topics, talk pages, documentation, and special pages such as Recent Changes. "Article" is a narrower term referring to a page containing an factual entry. Thus, all articles are pages, but not all pages are articles. 

What is an orphan?

An orphan is an article that no other article links to. These can still be found by searching the Wikipedia, but it is preferable to find another article where a link can be added. You can find a list of orphans at :Category:Orphaned articles.

What is a stub?

A stub on the Wiki is a very short article, usually of one paragraph or less. Many excellent articles started out as short stubs. Likewise, our hope is that existing stubs will be expanded into proper articles. 

What is a minor edit? When should I use it?

When editing a page, a logged-in user has the option to flag an edit as "minor." Use of this flag is largely a matter of personal taste. A general rule of thumb is that an edit that corrects spelling or formatting, performs minor rearrangements of text, or tweaks only a few words, should generally be flagged as a "minor edit". A major edit, in contrast, generally performs a change that close watchers of the page are likely to want to review. Of course, if an edit performs a major semantic revision, but is limited to only a few words (for instance changing "freedom fighter" to "terrorist" or vice versa, then the edit should not be flagged as minor.

This feature is important because users can choose to hide minor edits in their view of the Recent Changes page, to keep the volume of edits down to a manageable level.
Only logged-in users are allowed to mark an edit as minor. The reason is that anonymous vandalism edits, if allowed to be marked as minor, could remain hidden, and therefore unnoticed, for longer than desired. This limitation adds another reason to create an account and log in.


What is "Recent Changes", and what do the abbreviations used there mean?

Recent Changes lists all the edits that have been made over a given time period. 

Are there any standard formats, for things like dates for example?

See the Manual of Style.

I've found vandalism, or I've damaged a page by mistake! How can I restore it?

See Help:Reverting.

Why are some links red? 

They both indicate that a page with that name has not yet been started. You can click on that link and start a page with that name. But be careful: there may already be articles on similar topics, or an article on the same topic under a different name. It's pretty important to hunt around for similar topics first. If you just registered, your username is probably shown as linking to a page that doesn't exist. Don't worry! This just means you haven't filled out your user page yet. Click on the link and tell the world all about yourself! 

What happens when two users edit a page at the same time?

This is called an edit conflict, and only happens when two users try to edit the same part of a page. You'll get a conflict screen that displays both versions in separate windows, along with a summary highlighting the differences (typically showing the edits of both users, except those which both have made exactly the same), and instructions on how you should proceed. It's virtually impossible to lose any data.

How do I learn about changes to certain topics without having to go there from time to time?

If you are a logged-in user, on every page you will see either a link that says "Watch this article", or a small five-pointed star next to "View history". If you click on it, the article will be added to your personal watchlist. Your watchlist will show you the latest changes on your watched articles.

Why was the article I created deleted?

New articles are deleted for not following Wiki policies and guidelines. If your article was deleted, future contributions from you are still welcome.
The reasons that may lead to the quick deletion of an article are:
  1. A very short page with little or no definition or context (eg "He is a funny man that has created Factory and the Hacienda. And, by the way, his wife is great.").
  2. No meaningful content or history (eg "sdhgdf"). 
  3. A test page (eg "Can I really create a page here?").
  4. Pure vandalism (see dealing with vandalism). Note that if you're not being malicious, then your article probably didn't fall under this category.
  5. Reposted content that was deleted according to the Wiki's deletion policy unless undeleted according to undeletion policy.
  6. A page created and edited solely by a banned user, after they were banned.
  7. An article that is a blatant copyright infringement and contains no non-infringing revisions in its history.

Why was the edit I made removed?

There are a variety of reasons. The first thing you should do is look at the history page for the article you edited. This will tell you who changed it, when they changed it, and hopefully a short reason why they changed it. If it says something like see talk, then you should look at the talk page for the article. Also, you should look at your own talk page to see if you have a message there. If you don't find a reason that is satisfactory, politely ask in the article's talk page about your proposed change, and maybe you will get suggestions about changes that you can make so that your change will go in, or you may get reasons why your change should not happen.

How do I get a count of my edits?

Your edit count, including deleted edits, is displayed when you enter your preferences.