Wikipedia Editing Tips

Why

11 of 13 “notable economists” and both pictures on Wikipedia’s “Economist” page are men. Donna Strickland, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics last year, didn’t have a Wikipedia page. 18% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women. 87% of Wikipedia editors are men. Lots more details in this Nature article.1

If you’re new to Wikipedia editing2

Where to start? Some options

Broadly, you can focus on three different areas:

Unless you’re a seasoned Wikipedia editor, it’s much easier to add info to existing pages than to make new ones (and note that you can’t make a new page at all if you’ve just started).

Editing an existing page: tips

A lot of economists have quite detailed biographies but little information about the contributions made in their work. This is a place where we can have a big value add – by listing their major works and explaining the key contributions of each. Note that these should be factual – stick to “this is the paper, this is the question it asked, and this is what it found” – rather than making more sweeping statements about its importance or contribution. If you want to make a statement about the importance or contribution, you need to back it up with a source.

Not sure who to add detail to? Almost all economists’ research sections lack detail, so pick your favorite economists and start there. Or, this page lists all stub articles for economists, which are very short articles that need more detail.

Creating a new page

Creating a new page is a much more involved process than editing an existing page. Wikipedia has guidelines for writing your first article: check them out first. One particular challenge is making sure the person you are writing about meets the notability test – see these guidelines.

Not sure who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page? WikiProject Women in Red maintains a list which could get you started. There are also some suggestions on these Tweet threads (here, here).

Get your page the attention it deserves

It’s not just about improving or creating a page, but making sure that others see it too! The best way to do this is to link in and out of your page. Start by going to “what links here” (left menu) and see if there are pages that already link to your page. Add more! This will ensure more people find and read it. Some easy places to start are pages for their advisors, advisees and co-authors. Also just search for their name in Wikipedia: you’ll probably find places which reference their work already and can link it in.

Staying engaged

Want to keep editing? Check out WikiProject Economics and WikiProject Women in Red.


  1. This event is inspired by 500 Women Scientists’ Edit-A-Thon.
  2. Thanks to Frank Pinter for lots of helpful Wikipedia information.